Theme for 2015 relates to Older Americans Act

Social workers are urged to advocate for reauthorization

older female hands with younger female hand on caneEach May, NASW recognizes Older Americans Month, which President John F. Kennedy established to highlight the contributions older generations make to society. This year’s theme, Get into the Act, also recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act.

President John F. Kennedy established May as Older Americans Month — initially called Senior Citizens Month — to recognize and honor the contributions that older generations made to society.

Kennedy met with members of the National Council of Senior Citizens in April of 1963, and it was a time when an interest in aging Americans and the issues they faced was growing, according to the Administration for Community Living.

This year’s Older Americans Month theme is “Get into the Act,” which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act and the successes of the act in helping older adults enjoy healthy, independent and productive lives.

The OAA provides a nationwide network of aging services such as home-delivered and congregate meals, family caregiver support, preventive health services, and elder abuse prevention.

“Get into the Act” also highlights how older adults are taking charge of their health, engaging in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others. Past themes for Older Americans Month have included “Older Americans and the Family,” (1978); “Aging: An Experience of a Lifetime,” (1994); and “Making Choices for a Healthier Future,” (2007).

“NASW recognizes Older Americans Month each May and encourages social workers to do the same,” said NASW Senior Practice Associate Chris Herman. “This month also provides a good opportunity for social workers to advocate for reauthorization of the OAA, which is an integral part of the social safety net.”

The reauthorization of the OAA is a priority for NASW in 2015. NASW has developed an OAA issue brief, and the association is working with coalitions — such as the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations — to advocate for reauthorization.

The OAA was last authorized in 2006 and expired in 2011. A bipartisan bill called the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015 (S.B. 192) was introduced in the Senate in January.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions approved the bill, but the full Senate and House have not yet voted on the legislation.

NASW’s Older Americans Act Issue Brief (PDF)