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50 Years and Counting

A decorative image with confetti on top and text that reads "Aging and Disability Services Area Agency on Aging for Seattle and King County Celebrating 50 Years."

If you’re older than 50, think back to 1973. What was happening in your life? That year, the U.S. ended its involvement in the Vietnam War. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its original ruling on Roe v. Wade. Hip hop music was born. At times, it seems so long ago; other times, it seems like yesterday!

Several momentous events took place in Congress in 1973, including passage of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires disability access to programs and activities that are funded by federal agencies as well as to Federal employment. The law also established the U.S. Access Board, which focuses on advancing full access and inclusion for all. (It’s important to note that the Americans with Disabilities Act—a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability—wasn’t passed until 1990.)

Also in 1973, Area Agencies on Aging were added to the Older Americans Act that was enacted in 1965. Area Agencies on Aging (or “triple A’s,” as we say aloud) are the on-the-ground organizations charged with helping older adults live with as much independence as possible, and with dignity and respect, in their homes and communities.

Two years earlier, then Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman created a Division on Aging in the City of Seattle’s Office of Human Resources. In early 1973, the City of Seattle, King County, and United Way formed a Council on Aging, responsible for planning and coordinating the distribution of resources for older adults in King County.

So, in the latter half of 1973, the State Unit on Aging named the City of Seattle’s Division on Aging as the Area Agency on Aging for all of King County. Today, we know “the triple A” as Aging and Disability Services.

So, happy birthday to Aging and Disability Services! And many more!

Older Americans Month

If you look back 10 more years to 1963, you’ll find that President John F. Kennedy, in collaboration with members of the National Council of Senior Citizens, designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to Older Americans Month. Every U.S. president since then has proclaimed May as Older Americans Month.

Text of the proclamation of Older Americans Month by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and all members of the Seattle City Council recently signed a proclamation for Older Americans Month in Seattle (shown at right). It’s well worth reading!

This Older Americans Month, we’re presenting “Perspectives on Aging,” a series of interviews with diverse ideas about what it means to grow older. I want to thank contributors Priscilla Carmiol Rodriguez and Sarah McKiddy, both PhD in Nursing Science students at the University of Washington’s de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging, for their contributions this month. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I look forward to additional interviews throughout the year.

Text of the Older Americans Month proclamation for King CountyI am also so pleased to highlight Margaret Boddie in Karen Winston’s article, “A Passion for Serving African American Elders.” Margaret is a treasure—she holds a wealth of knowledge, resources, passion, and compassion and has supported thousands of people of African descent over the years.

This year’s Older Americans Month theme is “Aging Unbound.” The theme was selected by the federal Administration on Community Living to focus on exploring “an array of aging experiences without being boxed in by expectations and stereotypes.” I think that resonates with a lot of older people.

Recruiting new Advisory Council members

Each Area Agency is required to have an advisory council that serves as the agency’s eyes and ears in the community, advocates on behalf of AAAs and the people we serve, advises on use of discretionary funds, and much more. I chair the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services and am always interested in receiving applications from potential new members. In particular, we need additional representation from outside Seattle, particularly from rural King County.

If you or someone you know would be interested in serving, I encourage you to reach out to Advisory Council liaison Sariga Santhosh ( You will find online information about Advisory Council membership here.

Joe HaileyContributor Joe Hailey chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail (


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Mark Your Calendars

Following are upcoming events in which ADS Advisory Council members will participate:

Posted in Advocacy