By the President of the United States of America
The older American embodies not only a lifetime of experience and accomplishment, but also invaluable and often unrecognized resources of talent, energy and wisdom. Our country's awareness of the contributions and potential of our older people has steadily grown in recent years, as an increasing number of Americans have shown that their later years can indeed be rewarding ones for themselves and their communities.
Yet for too many of our people, the later years are often wasted and miserable because of health problems. This year's theme for the May observance of Older Americans Month is "Better Health Through Better Care."
Health is defined by the World Health Organization as a "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease and infirmity." Good adequate health requires more than just the treatment of sickness and injury, though providing treatment is vital. Good health care must also include proper nutrition, preventive and health maintenance services, as well as provision for long-term care.
In older persons the interrelationship between physical and mental health is especially important. Mental health services for the elderly have been sadly lacking in this country. Active and satisfying lives are both dependent upon and necessary to maintaining the health of older Americans.
The accessibility of all types of health services is critically important to the elderly, and holding down the costs of both crisis-oriented and preventive services is essential if the real needs are to be met.
As we make greater use of the abilities of older Americans, and find ways to better meet their special needs, particularly in relation to health services, all of our people will benefit.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate the month of May 1979 as Older Americans Month. I ask public officials at all levels, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, and people of all ages, to promote better health care and social services for older people, and to undertake appropriate projects both on a public and on a personal level to ensure the best possible health for older people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of
April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and third.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 3:40 p.m., April 18, 1979]