There are 54 million Americans ages 65 and older. Senior citizens make up 16.8% of the population, the fastest growing segment of society. Historically, older folks across the world have been valued for their vast knowledge, life experiences and contributions to civilization.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan and Congress agreed and signed Proclamation 5847 declaring Aug. 21, 1988, the first National Senior Citizens Day. The special day would serve as a reminder to recognize older folks for their wisdom and achievements.
On that day President Regan proclaimed, “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.”
That’s exactly the work we do at Seniors Across America. We advocate for seniors in Florida and across the nation. As a former state representative and state senator, for years I helped shape legislation protecting our seniors and I still work with legislators to make sure they pass laws with seniors in mind and laws that support their needs.
Florida has the second-highest percentage of senior citizens (21%) in the United States and that number is supposed to reach 25% in the next few years. Florida has four of the top 10 cities with the highest senior population — Clearwater, Hialeah, Cape Coral and Miami.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has routinely recognized the contributions our seniors bring to the state, earmarking $51 million for Alzheimer’s and dementia funding and making sure seniors were first to get COVID vaccines. The governor is also working to improve the homeowners’ insurance crisis that is having a huge impact on seniors with fixed incomes.
Seniors help keep the economy going. In fact, they hold $1.6 trillion of the nation’s spending power. They account for 60% of all healthcare spending and buy 74% of all prescription drugs. Seniors spend $7 billion online each year too.
They pay taxes used to fund both federal government and local government programs. They donate their time and money to charity. In fact, seniors are the most charitable age group. Also, they make pretty good babysitters and offer friendship and emotional support to young and old.
So, on National Senior Citizens Day, Aug. 21, celebrate a senior or two. Spend the day with one, especially if they live alone. And thank them for all they have done for you and for America.
Spend your days with Hayes
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John Grant, a former state representative and state senator, an estate planning attorney and a member of the National Senior Citizen Hall of Fame, heads a venture called Seniors Across America to speak up for our elderly population.