So Much to Celebrate, Honor and Learn!

May 2013 is Older Americans Month!

Originally called "Senior Citizens Month," this annual celebration was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. At that time, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays; however, about a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Two years later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law.

Every president since Kennedy has proclaimed May as a time to honor the older members of our communities. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter changed the celebration to "Older Americans Month" and the recognition became a tradition.

In this issue of AgeWise King County, you'll find an outstanding calendar of events for Older Americans Month. We encourage you to participate in an event, meet new people, and continue to make a difference throughout the year.

In addition to Older Americans Month, Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed May 15, 2013 as Kinship Caregiver Day, honoring grandparents and relatives raising younger family members across Washington state. In King County, 18,000 grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and others are raising younger family members.

Kinship care is an alternative to foster care. Whether temporary or permanent, a large number of people take care of a child in order to alleviate family stress and do what they think is best for the child. If you are one of those family members, or you know someone who is raising a relative's child, please visit the Kinship Care webpage on the King County Caregiver Support Network website, funded by Aging and Disability Services. We have a wealth of local agencies that can help.

Finally, I invite you to participate in the Aging and Disability Services Advisory Council’s special forum on health care reform on Friday, May 10, 2013.

Washington State is planning to test a new system that integrates mental health, medical, substance abuse, and long-term care services for residents who receive Medicare and Medicaid. King County is considering how it will participate in this financial alignment demonstration project.

Come to Health Care Reform: How Will It Affect You? on May 10 at the SeaTac Community Center. Learn how health care reform under the Affordable Care Act will affect seniors, adults with disabilities, and low-income individuals in King County.

University of Washington School of Public Health lecturer Aaron Katz will discuss how big picture changes in health care will affect seniors. A former health planner, policy and planning consultant, lobbyist, and political adviser, Katz has researched health care costs, changes in the safety net system (access to care), and U.S. health care markets for many years, and understands its strengths and weaknesses.

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who chairs the King County Board of Health as well as the Council’s Budget & Fiscal Management Committee, will present how King County is preparing for changes in health care policy. McDermott's district includes West Seattle, North Highline, Vashon/Maury Islands, SoDo, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, and portions of the International District, Burien, SeaTac, and Tukwila.

Resource tables and staff will share information about health insurance and other programs.

Lunch is provided; however, reservations are required. Call the SeaTac Senior Program (206-973-4690) no later than Wednesday, May 8.

There's much to celebrate, honor, and learn … this month and every month.

—Tony Provine, Chair
Seattle King County Advisory Council on Aging and Disability Services