As the NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature delegate for Hyde County, I stand in support of Ageism Awareness Day on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Ageism refers to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) toward others or oneself based upon age. It is pervasive in every domain of American society. Ageism harms everyone, but it particularly harms our economy. AARP estimated $850 billion in lost gains to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a result of involuntary retirement, underemployment, and unemployment among older workers. In a 2005 article in the Journal of Social Issues Todd Nelson said, “Ageism is prejudice against our future self.”

Adults age 60+ comprise 23% of NC’s population, yet our state’s appropriations for funding for services that enable us to age with choice, at home, are less than 1% of the state budget each year.  None of us want to think we could be guilty of ageism. 

This year, the NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature (NCSTHL) recommended to the NC General Assembly the appropriation of $18.75 million in additional recurring funds to address critical issues facing older adults. The five recommendations of the NCSTHL were aimed to ensure that “seasoned citizens” have access to resources that enhance their lives and health outcomes across programs such as Adult Protective Services, senior centers, the state block grant supporting services such as home-delivered meals, and long-term care improvements.  The NC General Assembly did not respond to the NCSTHL’s recommendations to support the needs of the growing older adult population.

It is quite concerning that issues for North Carolina’s aging population seem to have such a low priority.  On Ageism Awareness Day, Oct. 7, let’s take a moment to consider how we treat older adults and how we want to be treated as we age. Let’s support the NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature and its efforts to ensure that North Carolina is not only a great place to grow up, but a great place to grow old.

For more information, visit www.ncseniortarheellegislature.org or contact our local Albemarle Area Agency on Aging at 252-426-5753.

 — Jan Moore, Hyde County Commissioner for Swan Quarter

About the NCSTHL:  The North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature was created as a nonpartisan, unicameral body by the North Carolina General Assembly with the passage of Senate Bill 479 in July of 1993. Its purpose is to identify the most pressing issues facing older adults across the state and propose legislation that will improve their quality of life to the NC General Assembly. The NCSTHL is composed of delegates and alternates representing each of North Carolina’s 100 counties, supported by the Area Agency on Aging serving the state’s 16 service areas.

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