Beginnings Of AARP
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people age 50 years and older with more than 35 million members. According to its literature, AARP is dedicated to “enhancing quality of life for all as we age,” and the organization also provides a range of benefits and services. Despite its name, anyone older than 50 may join, retired or not. Its mission is to inform members and the public of issues important to Americans older than age 50; advocate on legislative, consumer, and legal issues; promote community service; and offer specialized products and services to members.
AARP was founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired high school principal, and was modeled after the organization also found by Andrus in 1947, the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA). Part of the impetus to create the NRTA was to assist older Americans in their efforts to obtain health insurance, usually unavailable at that time. Once Andrus realized how significant this need was, the AARP was formed and opened to all older people, not just teachers.
AARP focuses a significant part of its resources on education and in doing so publishes the bimonthly AARP Magazine, which covers a broad range of topics related to aging such as health, finance, and leisure. Members of AARP also receive the AARP Bulletin, published 11 times a year, which includes information regarding relevant federal and state legislation. In addition, Segunda Juventud, a quarterly Spanish-English newspaper, is published as well. In addition to offering these publications, AARP uses its Public Policy Institute to conduct and publish research on aging issues.
AARP offers several types of programs to meet the needs of its members and to address some of the at-large policy issues that aging Americans face.
The AARP Independent Living/Long-Term Care/End-of-Life Issues program addresses issues of prevention and examines options in services and financing. The physical activity initiative is targeted at increasing the number of people who make physical activity a regular part of their lives. Finally, the predatory lending campaign is aimed at reducing the incidence of fraud against older homeowners.
With older Americans finding it increasingly challenging to drive safely as they age, the AARP driver safety program is an 8-hour classroom refresher course designed for drivers age 50 and older. It covers rules of the road, defensive driving tips, and normal physical changes that accompany aging and ways to compensate for them.
The AARP grief and loss programs offers resources and information to AARP members and their families who have experienced the loss of a loved one. The program develops and offers bereavement outreach services, support groups, and educational programs for bereaved individuals.
AARP Tax-Aide, administered through the AARP Foundation, is a free tax counseling and preparation service for all taxpayers with middle and low incomes, with special attention to those age 60 and older. Trained and certified volunteers serve almost 2 million taxpayers.
Finally, AARP Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)) is a work-training program for low-income people age 55 and older.
- AARP The Magazine, http://www.aarpmagazine.org
- American Association of Retired Persons, http://www.aarp.org/