Janice Ayres: Seniors needs to be heard

Did you know that according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau there are 53,364 persons aged 100 years of age or older residing in the United States? That’s an increase of 66 percent from 1980.

The Bureau also states that there are 41.4 million persons 65 years of age or older living in the U.S. of which 86 percent list Social Security as their major source of income and over 15.1 percent of these seniors are way below the poverty level.

They state that older women (23.4 million) outnumber older men (17.9 million) and 46 percent of older women age 75 and older live alone with no help. And yet some law makers in Congress continually strive to make Social Security cover less and much harder to obtain by raising the eligibility age.

On Aug. 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s program for Social Security passed making it the first time anything substantial financially had been done for this country’s seniors. However, Roosevelt saw how the Great Depression had totally devastated our older folks and he assured the nation that it would never happen again. He had wanted a retirement plan that they could look forward to and count on as a safety net and he had them contribute earnings to it. Little did he foresee it becoming the political football it has become today.

And isn’t it ironic that it’s the very elected Congress we have now who are deciding on our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid fate of less income, while they are pulling down lucrative salaries; have a generous retirement plan, plus the most comprehensive health coverage obtainable while downgrading our benefits. And since we put up with it by electing some of them over and over, it will continue! Keep the good guys and oust the bad ones and do your homework well to know the difference.

The senior population is now such that it is a huge voting block, but hasn’t really pulled it together to realize that it could be a strong voice for demanding better treatment.

The problem is that people of my generation were raised to be non-confrontational and to be grateful for whatever was dealt them. But times are changing, so look out Congress, because the new thinking senior is drawing a bead on you and some of you may find yourselves out of a job.

Seniors have paid into this system all their working lives and they are just as entitled to a comfortable retirement life as anyone in Congress, perhaps, even better.

But we need to do more than just grouse about it amongst ourselves; we need to let those in Congress that are trying to deny us our benefits know that we are not going to tolerate it, and let those in Congress that are trying to help us know that we appreciate them and support their efforts.

Janice Ayres is a Carson City resident. Ayres, is executive director of Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. The opinions expressed are her own.


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