What's in a name --
Older Americans Month and other changes
Submitted by Laurie Orlov on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 13:55
Learning, working, contribution and legacy
May is Older Americans (not Senior Citizens) Month. The Administration on Aging notes that this 'acknowledgement of the contribution of older Americans' was launched in 1963. Prior to 1980, it was known as Senior Citizen Month, but was renamed and became a 'tradition' during the Carter Administration. Looking through the list of themes, some seem to be efforts to acknowledge the forgotten: "America, a Community for All Ages" and "Honor the Past, Imagine the Future: Towards a Society for All Ages". But today the term "senior citizen" has been erased by the AoA and the theme "Age Strong, Live Long," reflecte lengthening life span and unprecedented multiple generations of 'older Americans'. Assuming that 'senior' is 65+, there will be 71.5 million by 2030 -- life span and baby boomer encroachment are driving other changes as well...
...'Senior Centers' may be renamed or closed by budget cuts. From Activity Center to Boomer Cafes to Recreation and Senior Centers to XYZ Center (drop the Senior), the senior center moniker may be gone in just a few years, one location at a time. Already faced with an expanding longevity age spread, from the heel-kicking 60-somethings to 90-somethings, activity planning and events will become ever more challenging over time. At budget risk in their current form, I can imagine new combined centers that recognize a side effect of longevity: Those who can no longer come in the door might appreciate the availability of telephone programs, or welcome television variants like this one in Iowa City or the Microsoft-enabled 'virtual' senior center, or centers that partner with SeniorNet or community colleges that offer online learning programs.