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July: A Month of Anniversaries

A picture of the civil rights act being signed into law.

July is definitely a month of anniversaries! July 4th kicks it off by honoring the signing of the Declaration of Independence. And there are some other anniversaries, less well known and celebrated, that are very important to older adults and people with disabilities.

July 14: Anniversary of the Older Americans Act

On July 14, 1965, the Older Americans Act (OAA) signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Act authorizes a wide array of service programs through a nationwide network of Area Agencies on Aging (like Aging and Disability Services) and is a major source of federal funding.

The OAA (last amended and reauthorized on March 25, 2020) helps millions of our most vulnerable elders rely on the OAA for their health, economic security, and independence every year. Services include home-delivered and congregate meals; information and referral, counseling, and respite care for family caregivers; preventive health services; personal and home care services; transportation; legal assistance; elder abuse prevention; and other programs that help people grow old in their own homes. That’s where the majority of us want to live as we age.

The OAA is currently being discussed in Congress for reauthorization. With so many more older adults in our population today and forecast in the next decade, more funding is needed.

July 26: Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

A flyer advertising a talk about life after disability with triathlete Glenn Hartrick.

Triathlete Glenn Hartrick will share his insights and experiences on disability pride, promoting inclusivity, and celebrating diversity in an online event hosted by Compass Family Services on Tuesday, July 23. Click on the image above for more information.

On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. The ADA is an important civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services, and has led to greater societal understanding of disability, though there is still more to do to ensure all people with disabilities have equal access to everything enjoyed by people without disabilities.

Ever since July 1990, July has been known as Disability Pride Month. It is an opportunity to honor the history, achievements, experiences, and struggles of the disability community.

In Seattle, one 2024 Disability Pride Month event features triathlete Glenn Hartrick, whose life was changed forever following a cycling accident in June 2014. Consider attending “Beyond Limits: Embracing New Challenges and Life After Disability,” an online event hosted by Compass Family Services, on Tuesday, July 23, to hear his insights and experiences on disability pride, inclusivity, and diversity.

July 30: Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law legislation that established the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which protect the health and wellbeing of millions of families throughout our country and improve the economic security of our nation.

  • Medicare is a health insurance program for people aged 65 or older as well as some who are younger who have a disability, permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. To sign up, go to and select “Apply for Medicare Only.”
  • Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides low- or no-cost health insurance benefits for low-income people of all ages. In Washington state, Medicaid is called Apple Health. The majority of people served by Aging and Disability Services (ADS) Care Coordination Programs participate in this program, which reimburses ADS for services.

The Older Americans Act programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and (related) Social Security are entitlements funded by federal trust funds and administered at the federal, state, and local level. There’s a saying, “Nothing About Us Without Us,” that originated with the UN International Day of Disabled Persons in 2004. Inclusion of and support for older adults and people with disabilities should be key considerations in all upcoming elections.

I encourage everyone to keep a close watch for news reports and articles about proposed changes to these important programs. Use your voice! Contact your Congressional policymakers if you have questions or concerns. Collectively, we can encourage them to preserve programs that help older adults and people with disabilities enjoy the high quality of life that we all deserve.

Alex O'ReillyContributor Alex O’Reilly chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. She welcomes input from readers via e-mail (

Photo at top: President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, another piece of Great Society legislation, on July 2, 1964. Note that the great Martin Luther King, Jr. is standing behind the president and Washington State’s long-time U.S. Senator Warren G. Magnuson stands second from the right in this photo. Public domain photo.

A group picture of the Aging and Disability Services Advisory council taken in May 2023.

Mark Your Calendars

Following are upcoming events that may be of interest: