U.S. Aging Policy Interest Groups: Institutional Profiles

U.S. Aging Policy Interest Groups: Institutional Profiles

U.S. Aging Policy Interest Groups: Institutional Profiles

U.S. Aging Policy Interest Groups: Institutional Profiles

Synopsis

In-depth analyses of the strategies, programs, and publications of 83 national nonprofit and nonpartisan groups give an overview of citizen work on behalf of the more than 30 million American aged.

Excerpt

Serving and advocating the needs of the elderly has become "an aging enterprise," according to Carroll Estes (1979). It has certainly become big business, involving millions of people and thousands of agencies. The eighty-three organizations profiled in this book represent a portion of the private national organizations that deal with some aspects of old-age policy in the United States. The U.S. population of people aged 65 and older, close to 30 million in 1991, represents 12 percent of the total population. Although many would argue that there is no national policy on aging, certainly a wide variety of major programs exists to benefit the elderly, from Social Security, Medicare, housing, research, and employment to a host of other specialized programs and agencies. Over 200 congressional committees and subcommittees bear responsibility for some aspect of federal old-age programs and/or services, representing 29 percent of the national budget--more than the defense budget. Most of these programs, with the exception of Social Security, originated in the 1960s and 1970s, as did more than half of the organizations profiled in this book. In fact, serious concern for the needs of the elderly in the United States has emerged only recently.

In the past few decades, we have heard such phrases as the "graying of America," "senior movement," and "senior activism," which refer to the development of a plethora of organizations serving and advocating the needs of the elderly. There are hundreds of government programs and agencies serving a variety of needs of the most dependent elderly citizens. All of this gives rise to a number of questions: Why did this happen so recently? What about the role of interest groups? What is their nature, and what are their prospects for influencing national policy in the future?

Why did this concern for the elderly hit the national scene so late and with such sudden impact? Although the nation has cared for its older citizens almost . . .

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