Elder rights

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Elder rights are the rights of the aged, who in the United States are not recognized as a constitutionally protected class.[1]

Common rights issues faced by elders include age-related job discrimination (such as forced age of retirement), lack of access to medical treatments because of age or age-related obstacles, societal perceptions of ability/disability due to age,[1] and vulnerability to abuse, including financial, physical, psychological, social, and sexual[2] because of diminished capacity and lack of access to/ability to use technology.[3]

Elder rights movement[edit]

The concept of a unique set of needs and rights of the elderly started in 1930s during the Great Depression with the main focus being on the need for a national pension program to provide financial security to the no longer working elderly.[4] Numerous rival plans (the Townsend Plan, the McClain Movement, the Ham and Eggs Movement) were made to address the issue. Eventually, as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, the Social Security Act was passed to meet the need.

As the population aged and the aged grew wealthier throughout the second half of the twentieth century, their political influence increased.[4] Organizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons and government bodies such as the Administration on Aging were created to meet their needs.[5] Issues far beyond simple financial security became the focus – Maggie Kuhn, angered over her mandatory retirement at 65, launched the Gray Panthers.[6] The National Elder Law Foundation was created out of concern that elderly might have unique legal needs.[7] The 2006 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act included a project called Choices for Independence to develop consumer-directed community-based (as opposed to congregate segregated choices such as traditional nursing homes) long-term care options.[8]

Milestones in elder rights development[edit]

Year Event
1920 Civil Service Retirement Act (US)[9] Retirement system for government employees
1935 Social Security Act (US)[9] Old Age Assistance/Old Age Survivors Insurance
1958 American Association of Retired Persons founded[10]
1965 Older Americans Act (US)[9] Established the Administration on Aging
1970 Gray Panthers founded
1970 Age Concern England launched
1974 Age UK created
1994 National Elder Law Foundation founded (US)[7] Certifies attorneys for elder law practice
1999 International Year of Older Persons[9]
2002 MIPAA - Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging[11] The global policy document regarding aging
2003 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (US)[9]
2003 Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party formed
2010 Affordable Care Act (US)[9]
2011 UN Open Ended Working Group on Aging (OEWG)[12] The UN forum discussing elder rights

Notable elder rights activists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kohn, Nina (2010). "The Lawyer's Role in Fostering an Elder Rights Movement" (PDF). William Mitchell Law Review. 37: 51. Retrieved 13 May 2015.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Your Rights – Elder Abuse". Senior Rights Victoria. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Protecting Elders' Rights". Caring for Your Parents. PBS. 2008.
  4. ^ a b Walls, David. "Elders Rights Movement". Sonoma State University. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  5. ^ Pratt, Henry (1976). The Gray Lobby: Politics of Old Age. University of Chicago Press.
  6. ^ Laursen, Eric. "Gray Panthers". Global Action on Aging. Archived from the original on 12 June 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b "About NELF". National Elder Law Foundation. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Elder Rights Background Documents". Global Action on Aging. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Historical Evolution of Programs for Older Americans". US Dept of Health & Human Services. Archived from the original on 6 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  10. ^ "AARP History". American Association of Retired Persons. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing | United Nations For Ageing". www.un.org. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  12. ^ "United Nations Open-ended Working Group on strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons". social.un.org. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  13. ^ "Ethel Andrus". National Women's History Museum. Archived from the original on 23 January 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  14. ^ Barker, Jonathan. "David Hobman:Energetic reformer who changed society's perception of older people". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 May 2015.