Senior Citizens Day: Say ‘thank you’ to members of a changing demographic

Elderly couple standing beneath an orange umbrella

Senior citizens have become the largest—and fastest-growing—segment of the U.S. population. Photo by Sarah Thomas, courtesy of Flickr

THURSDAY, AUGUST 21: Thank an elderly person in your life—or, one you just met—today, on National Senior Citizens Day. As the nation’s elderly population swells, the contributions of seniors cannot be denied: healthier lifestyles are leading to more active later years, and volunteering at unprecedented levels. What’s more, this national holiday celebrates the achievements and accomplishments of the approximately 40 million older Americans alive today. (Learn what some Boomers really think about the “senior” label in this article, from Delaware Online.)

The year was 1988; President Ronald Reagan created National Senior Citizens Day with a proclamation, declaring that, “Throughout our history, older people have achieved much for our families, our communities, and our country. That remains true today, and gives us ample reason this year to reserve a special day in honor of the senior citizens who mean so much to our land. (Read more here.) In a discussion on the topic, he stated, “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute.”

What can I do? On National Senior Citizens Day, visit a senior living center, an elderly relative or an older neighbor. Take an older person who can no longer drive to a movie, shopping, or to see a friend. Volunteer your time at a nursing home, and encourage others to do the same! Sunrise Senior Living suggests hosting a luncheon or outdoor activity for the seniors in your community.

Being a senior in the United States definitely has its perks, too—this article lists all of the discounts and freebies available from age 50, 55, 60 and more. Medicare, Social Security and AARP benefits are among the most widely known, but more discounts can be found on websites like SeniorDiscounts.com. Government programs available for seniors can be found at Benefits.gov.

The United Nations International Day for Older Persons is observed annually on October 1.

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