As my term as AARP's president comes to a close, I've been thinking of all the folks I've had the opportunity to meet — those of you who are using your "longevity bonus" years to change the way we view aging in America.
It has been an honor to see up close how much you contribute to communities all over the country. Yet society has work to do if we are to put the promise of fulfilling, longer lives in everyone's reach.
- Our political leaders must keep Social Security and Medicare strong for future generations.
- The health care system must give the needs and values of individuals and caregivers a higher priority.
- Our communities should do more to help all residents stay engaged — with transportation, housing options and design that promote active living.
- The private and public sectors must supply more choices and support for programs that help people age in place and remain independent for as long as possible.
- As individuals, we should take more responsibility for our own wellness by staying fit and active.
- Our country needs an inclusive, civil debate to determine how to meet the caregiving and financial challenges faced by many families. Americans 50 or older can play a vital role in holding candidates accountable and promoting that debate. Please vote. Your participation enriches the process immeasurably.
These goals lie at the heart of AARP's mission to enhance the quality of life for all as we age. And I'm pleased to tell you that AARP's new president, Eric J. Schneidewind, is a champion of these same values.
Eric's support for lives of dignity and purpose has been a common thread in his long track record of public service. He has served as chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission, state president of AARP Michigan and in other leadership roles in government and the nonprofit sector. I'm confident he will help AARP move forward.
Finally, I want to say a heartfelt "Thank you for all you do." Serving you has been a privilege.