Not everyone may agree that this month – which is Older Americans Month – is “the perfect time to celebrate what getting older looks like today.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells us the theme of 2017 Older American’s Month is “Age Out Loud” to “give aging a new voice—one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say.”
Here goes …
A lot of the older Americans I know are fraught with anxiety, most recently focused on President Donald Trump’s proposed revised healthcare plan. An estimated 25 million older Americans currently live on the edge. They fear our billionaire president and the Corporate lackeys in Congress will dump them into a penurious old age and premature death by limiting their access to quality health care.
Meanwhile, Congressional inaction continues to allow American employers to drive older Americans out of good jobs in their 40s and 50s through epidemic and unaddressed age discrimination in employment.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) was weak when it was adopted 50 years ago when compared to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, gender and national origin. Since then it has been eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has made it almost impossible to win a federal age discrimination lawsuit.
Unemployed older Americans are forced to spend down their savings and work in low-paid gigs or part-time jobs until they are 62 and qualify for Social Security, which will mean they receive significantly lower benefits for the rest of their lives compared to richer folk who can wait longer to retire.
Women fare the worst in our rigged system. The National Council on Aging says women make $4,500 less annually in Social Security than men due to lower lifetime earnings, time taken off for caregiving, occupational segregation into lower wage work, and other issues. Older women of color fare worst of all. (SSA, 2015).
The NCOA estimates that the more than 25 million Americans aged 60+ who are economically insecure struggle with rising housing and health care bills, inadequate nutrition, lack of access to transportation, diminished savings, and job loss. For older adults who are above the poverty level, the NCOA states, one major adverse life event can change today’s realities into tomorrow’s troubles.