The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Seven-Point Program for Senior Citizens
October 19, 1960

Senator John F. Kennedy today outlined a seven-point program for the Nation's senior citizens.

In a telegram sent to Congressman Aime J. Forand, for use at a 2 p.m. Los Angeles senior citizens rally, the Democratic presidential candidate said that -

over one-half of our senior citizens are so financially insecure and underprivileged, so burdened with illness, so poorly fed, clothed, and housed that their years have brought problems rather than privileges.
Kennedy said the -
Democratic Party recognizes this challenge and is dedicated to the creation of a climate in which the later years can be productive, dignified, and satisfying.
Kennedy offered this seven-point program:

(1) We must make available a program of medical insurance based on the proven social security system. This program will emphasize dignity and self-reliance, rather than charity and humiliation.

(2) Steps should be taken to insure and protect an income to our senior citizens which will permit them to maintain a decent independent standard of living. This means adequate social security benefits and some consideration in computing those benefits to meet cost of living increases.

(3) We must improve employment opportunities for older workers and reduce discrimination in employment of age. This can be done by an expanded program of training and retraining for older workers; by the use of skilled personnel for older workers counseling; and job development by increased programs of information and education directed at employers and labor organizations dealing with the abilities of workers over 45; and by leadership in the personnel policies of the Federal Government.

(4) We can give older citizens a new sense of usefulness by encouraging them to engage in such needed activities as homemaker services, practical nursing, and Senior center leadership. The Nation needs their help. They can make valuable contributions.

(5) The acute housing needs of our older citizens must be met by a program of financial incentives to low-rental housing for older persons, and to local housing authorities. Direct Federal loans for this purpose have already proven themselves, despite Republican opposition.

(6) The States and local communities must be encouraged in their research programs for senior citizens. Experimental programs of periodical health appraisals have demonstrated their value in early detection and cure of disease. Organized home programs, nutritional guidance and coordinated community health services have performed well in achieving self-reliance and sustaining vigor. The partnership between the local community and Federal Government in this area can be effective.

(7) We must increase the provision for rehabilitation and training of the physically and mentally handicapped. Here again, a Federal State cooperation can be effective. But the Federal Government must be an active and willing partner. The programs of the past are inadequate and insufficient.

This year social Security is 25 years old and perhaps never since its enactment have the challenges and needs and the opportunities in this field been so crucial and as far reaching as they are today. The program I have suggested will bring the social Security system up to date. It will permit our older citizens to live their lives in dignity and in health. I commend it to you.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Seven-Point Program for Senior Citizens", October 19, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
© 1999-2011 - Gerhard Peters - The American Presidency Project