Washington, D.C.-Mrs. Rosalynn Carter (lejt) greets members of the Jackson Swingers, a band composed of senior citizens from Omaha. The band played in the East Room of the White House during an open house held in connection with the First Lady's Round-table Discussion on Aging on May 9. The appearance of the Jackson Swingers was arranged by Rep. John Cavanaugh (DNebraska).
Congressman Claude Pepper, Chairman of the House Select Committee on aging and Mr. Bert Seidman, AFL-CIO.
Senator Frank Church, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Aging.
On May 10. 1977, your editor was privileged to cover the first Round Table On Aging which was held by First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
Mrs. Carter's interest in the care of the elderly was heightened during Presidential campaign, and she visited many senior citizens' complexes, Golden Age Clubs, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers for the aged throughout the country. Her concern is not only that elderly people receive the best possible care but that they be given every opportunity to make a contribution to society within the limits of their abilities.
"Many of our older citizens still have a great deal to offer their families and their communities," Mrs. Carter has said. "But too often they are not given the chance to do so. I think we all have to focus on this problem and start to turn it around. Our senior citizens are a natural resource and simply must not be ignored or forgotten."
The Round Table itself was but one event in a busy day for the First Lady that started with a visit to D.C. Village, a 500-bed facility for the aged operated by the city of Washington, D.C.
At ten o'clock the First Lady met with the following leaders in the field of aging: Robert J. Ahrens of the Urban Elderly Coalition; Cyril F. Brickfield of the National Retired Teachers Association; Theodore C. Carich of the American Health Care Association; Senator Frank Church, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Aging; Nelson H. Cruikshank of the National Council of Senior Citizens; Msgr. Charles F. Fahey of the American Association of Homes for the Aging; Donald C. Foster of the Retired Officers Association; Charles M. Gaitz, M.D., of the Gerontological Society; Dr. Louise B. Gerrard of the National Association of State Units of Aging; Leon Harper of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging; Neil Hartigan, former Lt. Governor of Illinois; Peter W. Hughes of the American Association of Retired Persons; Hobart Jackson of the National Caucus on the Black Aged, National Center on the Black Aged; Mary Kay Jernigan, Director of the Office of Aging in Georgia; Margaret E. Kuhn of the Gray Panthers; Carmella G. Lacayo of the National Conference on the Spanish-Speaking Elderly; Mother M. Bernadette de Lourdes of the National Council on the Aging; Mrs. Juana Lyons of the National Indian Council on Aging; David H. Marlin of Legal Research and Services for the Elderly; Paul Nathan-son of the National Senior Citizens Law Center; Miss Judith Park of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees; Congressman Claude Pepper, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Aging; and Bert Seidman of the AFL-CIO.
A few members of the AARP Kitchen Bank pose after entertaining at the White House. Left to right, they are Eleanor Scholl, leader, Mary Borversax, Edna May Forsythe, Pauline Hess, and Dorothy Griffin.
Margaret E. Kuhn, convener. Gray Panthers.
Older Americans wait at White House Gate to visit Mrs. Carter.
Miss Mary Kay J er rugan, Mr. Leon Harper and M onsignor Charles Fahey relax while cameramen prepare for media coi'erage.
Mrs. Carter welcomes older Americans to the White House.
Two thousand older Americans are greeted by Mrs. Carter in the East Room of the White House.
Her charge to the group was to help her decide the best ways that she could help to improve the lives of older Americans. The various distinguished speakers presented papers underlining the key issues in their specific areas of interest such as income, mandatory retirement, social security, housing, nursing homes, national priorities, education in gerontology, alternatives to institutionalization governmental regulation, minority aged, humanization, health care and nutrition. Most of the ideas presented were those which have been presented at national meetings and in the current literature. The most frequent recommendation for Mrs. Carter was that she should be an advocate of national prominance to stimulate greater national awareness of the problems of older people.
During an interview, this author suggested to Mrs. Carter that the nursing profession should be included in her future discussions. It was brought to her attention that nurses are the largest group of health care professionals and are uniquely qualified to meet the health care needs of the elderly. Mrs. Carter indicated that this meeting was only a beginning session and other important groups would be included in future meetings.
White House Front Entrance.
While members of the "Ageless Wonders" relax during a break from their entertaining at the White House, Helen Johnston of Takoma Park poses for a picture in front of painting of Washington.
Editor Edna Stilwell talks with Sarah Carter and Eva Brooks in the East Room of the White House.
Later, Mrs. Carter hosted a tour of the White House for about 2000 older adults from the following groups: National Council of Senior Citizens-chapter members; Urban Elderly Coalition-community groups from the Baltimore-Washington area; National Conference on Spanish-Speaking Elderly; National Association of Retired Federal Employees-chapter members in the D.C. area; American Association of Retired Persons-chapter members in the D.C. area; National Retired Teachers Association- chapter members in the D.Ç. area; National Council on Aging-senior community programs; Carroll Park Senior Citizens, New York; D.C. Village.
During the tours, three groups of older adults: the "AARP Kitchen Band" from Hanover, Pennsylvania; the "Ageless Wonders" from Lynchburg, Virginia; and the "Jackson Swingers" of Omaha, Nebraska entertained.
It was emphasized throughout that this event was the beginning of her efforts on behalf of the elderly. In greeting her tour guests in the East Room, she said, "I'm glad you're here, I love you and I wish I could shake everyones hand." The mutual admiration and respect between Mrs. Carter and her aged guests was much more than perfunctory. One older lady was heard to say, "It's worth being 80 to visit the White House and have the First Lady say ? love you'."
If the follow-up actions that may be spawned from this "beginning" live up to the auspicious events of May 10th, we should be able to look to the White House for considerable assistance in improving the life of older adults.