Democratic Party Platform of 1980


Older Americans

In other sections of this platform (for example, health and the extensive section on Social Security), we have listed programs and commitments for improving the status of older Americans. As a Party, we are aware of the demographic and biomedical developments that call for a high priority approach to the issues of retirement, work, and income maintenance for the growing number of older citizens.

The Democratic Party stands for the achievement and maintenance of the quality of life for Americans in their later years. We speak for our future selves, as well as for the elderly of today.

There has been substantial progress, but much remains to be done. Too many senior citizens (especially among minority groups) live close to or below the poverty line, in isolated conditions, and without access to needed services.

The Democratic Party pledges to continue to improve the policies and programs which ensure a high quality of life for older Americans. This includes the following measures.

All Americans, regardless of age, must be afforded an opportunity to participate in the mainstream of society, and in activities at local and national levels, as useful citizens. The 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the milestone amendments to that Act in 1978, are concrete examples of this principle. So are programs such as senior centers, nutrition services, and home attendants, as well as those programs under ACTION, the Administration on Aging, and the Community Services Administration.

Such programs have helped to diminish the conditions of dependency, isolation, and unnecessary institutionalization. We propose to continue and expand these programs to reach underserved areas and all segments of the elderly.

The Democratic Party is proud of the passage of legislation to protect and improve private pensions through the Employees Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), as well as current proposals to extend such protection to larger numbers of workers. No worker, after long years of employment, should lose his or her pension rights because of mobility, poor management, or economic reasons,

Other priorities include working with the private sector to assure maintenance and expansion of employer-employee pension systems and continuing support of the federal-state partnership in SSI (Supplemental Security Income) for the least fortunate.

A comprehensive program of long-term care services is a goal of the Democratic Party. The fastest growing segment of our population is the "very old" and the "frail elderly." The Democratic Party will continue to be concerned with the provision of services for these groups, increasingly composed of women without access to family care. This will include home attendant care, day centers, and quality institutional care for those elderly with functional disabilities who cannot rely on non-institutional alternatives.

For many older citizens, continuing participation in the mainstream means continuing employment, or a return to the labor force as a result of widowhood or the "empty nest." In addition to increasing employment opportunities by raising the allowable mandatory retirement age, we must continue existing, and create new, programs for the retention and re-entry of adult and older Americans in our labor force, including the private and community service sectors.

The Democratic Party will encourage the development of services by the public and private sectors to provide meals-on-wheels for those who need them; senior day centers; friendly visiting services; and similar supportive, educational-recreational, and outreach services.

We pledge to make the elderly secure in the necessities of life. The Democratic Party pledges that it will seek to increase the number of meals served under Title III of the Older Americans Act until it covers at least a quarter of all older people at or near the poverty level while at least maintaining current services for those who are not in poverty. The Democratic Party will seek expanded funding provided for the Section 202 housing program for the elderly.


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Chicago: "Older Americans," Democratic Party Platform of 1980 in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), P.12 Original Sources, accessed September 25, 2022,

MLA: . "Older Americans." Democratic Party Platform of 1980, in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), P.12, Original Sources. 25 Sep. 2022.

Harvard: , 'Older Americans' in Democratic Party Platform of 1980. cited in , Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), P.12. Original Sources, retrieved 25 September 2022, from