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Information Memoranda

JULY 30, 1998


SUBJECT : International Year of Older Persons 1999




The purpose of this memorandum is to draw attention to the International Year of Older Persons 1999, and to encourage its observance by state and area agencies on aging and tribal organizations. This year-long observance offers us all a unique opportunity for bringing attention to the contributions and needs of older persons and for engaging a wide range of community organizations in preparing America for longevity.


The United Nations (UN) General Assembly designated 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons ("IYOP"). The IYOP will officially be launched on October 1, 1998 as October 1 is designated by the UN, and observed world-wide, as International Day of Older Persons. While observed as an international year, the UN expects member states, non-governmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations to honor the IYOP as they choose within their own countries.

The theme for the Year, "Towards a Society for All Ages", was chosen to promote the philosophy that societies should be inclusive in nature; should embrace all population groups; and share their resources equally. In designating 1999 as the IYOP, the UN cited one of the greatest achievements of this century as the increase of the average life span by 20 years. It will take all ages working together to assure the health and well being of society as a whole.

Federal Initiatives for IYOP

In March 1997, at a presentation at an Ad Hoc Working Group of the UN Commission for Social Development, AoA accepted the role of focal point within the federal government for initiatives related to the IYOP. AoA’s major effort for the IYOP will concentrate on preparing the federal government for the aging of society. A number of initiatives are underway at the federal level. They include:

  1. Last Fall, AoA created a Federal Committee to Prepare for the IYOP. Over thirty federal agencies, commissions, and departments currently serve on the committee. They pledged to use the IYOP to work towards concrete federal program and policy outcomes. We have been gratified by the very enthusiastic response from all the agencies working on the committee.

  2. In my opening remarks at the December 12, 1997 meeting of the committee, we articulated the vision that the IYOP should play a significant role in spurring Americans toward longevity preparedness, as longevity is sure to affect every aspect of American life in the next century. The committee was charged to use the opportunity provided by the IYOP to highlight and showcase what our federal government is doing for older people and to design a winning architecture for an aging society.

  3. Our goal is to assure that federal efforts focus substantively on preparing for the future. At the end of 1999, we want to have moved the aging agenda forward and prepared our country for longevity. A long-term strategy is to have a standing committee which would work together into the 21st century to generate and sustain essential federal efforts.

Planned committee initiatives currently include:

A.   A federal-wide conference to be held June 1 and 2 in Washington, focusing on the role of the federal government           in aging programs. Conference goals include:

1. An exchange of information on key aging issues and identification of aging policy and     program opportunities among federal agencies;

2. A commitment across agencies to foster on-going interagency collaboration on aging-related issues and greater public awareness of federal efforts on behalf of the aging; and

3. Establishment of a continuing committee.

B. A publication that includes recommendations from the conference and a user-friendly "Best Practices Guide" to existing federal programs for older people.

C. A number of media events, including a kick off for the opening of the IYOP in October 1998.

D. Publication of a pamphlet describing the IYOP, including resources and program ideas. The pamphlet, currently under development, will be distributed to the aging network and to all federal agencies for distribution among their own constituencies.

E. The establishment of an international page as part of the AoA website (Attachment I). This page includes, among other items, information and resources about the IYOP.

F. A Presidential Proclamation. The AoA hopes to have a Presidential Proclamation signed for the opening of the IYOP in October 1998. Governors and Mayors will be encouraged to sign similar proclamations for their states and cities and a copy of the Presidential Proclamation will be sent to all states. A media event will be planned around the Presidential Proclamation to include the Federal Committee, described below, and international representation.

We are coordinating our efforts very closely with the U.S. Committee to Celebrate the International Year of Older Persons (Attachment I). The Committee is an umbrella organization comprised of a growing number of professionals from the local, state, national and international gerontology communities and organizations.

The Committee hopes to stimulate organizations throughout the nation to develop projects and build networks to publicize and celebrate the IYOP. The mission of the Committee encourages planning of intergenerational projects, seminars, discussion groups, and ethnic and cultural heritage programs in educational systems, religious organizations, and corporations in both the public and the private sector. The Committee will help groups across the country with programmatic ideas. We will make sure that they know about the federal initiative and will share information with them that may help states and communities address the theme of the IYOP "towards a society for all ages.

Ideas for Observing the IYOP

The AoA encourages state and area agencies on aging and tribal organizations to begin planning for the IYOP in their own communities. Ideas for observing the IYOP are limitless and each community will observe in its own way (Attachment I). Some principles to keep in mind are:

A. Initiatives should be purposeful. Think of where you would like to go in planning for the aging population in your communities in the next century and how the IYOP could assist you in getting there;

B. Incorporate the goals and theme for the IYOP into existing efforts;

C. Use the opportunity to plan for the future - not just for the IYOP. Think in terms of action plans;

D. Use the IYOP to prepare the Baby Boomers for retirement;

E. Think of how you can include "non-traditional players." Look for cooperation of the formal and informal sectors, including the business sector, schools and colleges, and the media;

F. Be inclusive in developing your plans. Think intergenerationally. Aging is a process affecting daily living, requiring responses by individuals, families, and neighborhoods; and

G. Think how the objectives in Title I of the Older Americans Act can be furthered through the IYOP (Attachment II ).

It is not too early to begin planning for the IYOP. As you develop initiatives for the year, we would be most interested in hearing from you, so that we might share information about your endeavors with others. Questions or inquiries should be addressed to Marla Bush at Tel: (202) 619-3996; Fax: (202) 619-7586; E-mail:

Jeanette C. Takamura
Assistant Secretary for Aging

Marla Bush International Coordinator
Administration on Aging
US Department of Health and Human Services
330 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20201
(Tel) 202-619-3996
(Fax) 202-619-7586

The Administration on Aging (AoA) is the federal focal point and advocacy agency for older persons. Contact AoA for general information about the IYOP and to report your activities for the IYOP. These will be publicized on the AoAwebsite and in Aging Update.

Suzanne Oliver US Committee to Celebrate the International Year of Older Persons.
(Tel) 212-481-5142
(Fax) 212-481-5069

The US Committee for the Celebration of the UN International Year of Older Persons was formed by gerontology professionals and major aging organizations to encourage and coordinate national interest in observing the year. Contact the Committee to become a member, to obtain further information, or to receive a copy of the Committee’s newsletter.

Elizabeth Mullen, Director International Activities
American Association of Retired Persons
601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049 USA
Tel: (202) 434-2402
Fax:(202) 434-6494

AARP publishes Coalition ‘99, a newsletter containing information about activities planned worldwide to observe the IYOP. Contact AARP to be placed on mailing list/submit your plans for the IYOP to the Coalition ‘99 newsletter.

J. David Roberts Illinois Department on Aging
421 East Capitol #100
Springfield, IL 62701-17890
Tel: (217) 785-2870
Fax: (217) 785-4477

The Illinois Department on Aging is actively preparing for the IYOP and will share its plans and ideas developed for 1998 and 1999 activities, programs, education information, and events planned for its observance. It has created a resource kit for the use of State Units on Aging.


AoA International Year of Older Persons at
UN International Year of Older Persons at
Directions for obtaining the UN logo design at

ยง 3001 of the Older Americans Act. Congressional declaration of objectives.

The Congress hereby finds and declares that, in keeping with the traditional American concept of the inherent dignity of the individual in our democratic society, the older people of our Nation are entitled to, and it is the joint and several duty and responsibility of the governments of the United States, of the several States and their political subdivisions, and of Indian tribes to assist our older people to secure equal opportunity to the full and free enjoyment of the following objectives:

(1) An adequate income in retirement in accordance with the American standard of living.

(2) The best possible physical and mental health which science can make available and without regard to economic status.

(3) Obtaining and maintaining suitable housing, independently selected, designed and locatedwith reference to special needs and available at costs which older citizens can afford.

(4) Full restoration services for those who require institutional care, and a comprehensive array of community-based, long-term care services adequate to appropriately sustain older people in their communities and in their homes, including support to family members and other persons providing voluntary care to older individuals needing long-term care services.

(5) Opportunity for employment with no discriminatory personnel practices because of age.

(6) Retirement in health, honor, dignity - after years of contribution to the economy.

(7) Participating in and contributing to meaningful activity within the widest range of civic, cultural, education and training and recreational opportunities.

(8) Efficient community services, including access to low-cost transportation, which provide a choice in supported living arrangements and social assistance in a coordinated manner and which are readily available when needed, with emphasis on maintaining a continuum of care for vulnerable older individuals.

(9) Immediate benefit from proven research knowledge which can sustain and improve healthand happiness.

(10)Freedom, independence, and the free exercise of individual initiative in planning andmanaging their own lives, full participation in the planning and operation of community-based services and programs provided for their benefit, and protection againstabuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Ideas for Observing the IYOP:

A. Establish state and local committees to develop initiatives for observing the IYOP;

        B. Use the federal model of a committee in your own community;

        C. Intergenerational Activities:

1. Highlight activities which show grandparents and foster grandmothers raising grandchildren;

2. Link young "Pen Pals" with older persons in the community;

3. Sponsor story writing contests for school-age children to write about older persons;

4. Encourage older persons to visit classrooms or assembly programs in schools to share what being "older" is really like to dispel some stereotypes and myths;

       D. Public Relations and Media Events:

1. Have your governor/mayor proclaim 1999 as the IYOP in your state or city as a "kick off" event;

2. Use the UN logo on your written materials;

3. Disseminate information on the IYOP to local organizations, both traditional and no-traditional;

4. Place monthly feature stories in local newspapers concerning older people;

5. Hold a giant birthday party for different age groups (60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 100s);

6. Put on an opening event for the IYOP on October 1 (the UN International day of Older Persons) - perhaps a "Community "Stroll" with groups originating in many parts of the city and converging in the downtown area along prescribed route ending in the city square or a candlelight dedication ceremony;

      E. Performing Arts:

1. Put on concerts/plays dedicated to older persons theme. Have specially priced tickets for seniors. Feature older performers;

2. Hold art contests featuring older artists;

3. Arrange for special displays to commemorate the IYOP (perhaps intergenerational) at the local museum;

     F. Sister City Activities:

1. Establish links with sister cities in other countries; share videos of senior’s lives;

2. Exchange trips between seniors in different communities (perhaps involve Evergreen or Elder hostel);

3. Invite older persons groups from nearby communities in Canada and Mexico for an exchange day with local programs such as Senior Centers;

     G. Sports Events:

1. Host local senior games;

2. Organize intergenerational games - or games with seniors helping children; and

3. Encourage a "Tribute to Seniors" night at local sports events.

Additional list of activities are provided by the United Nations and are found at . Call Marla Bush at AoA for a hard copy of "Local Agenda on Ageing in the 1990s - Question of Ageing." in English, French or Spanish.