Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired high school principal, founded AARP in 1958. AARP evolved from the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA), which Dr. Andrus had established in 1947 to promote her philosophy of productive aging, and in response to the need of retired teachers for health insurance.
At that time, private health insurance was virtually unavailable to older Americans; in fact, it was not until 1965 that the government enacted Medicare, which provides health benefits to persons over age 65. Dr. Andrus approached dozens of insurance companies until she found one willing to take the risk of insuring older persons. She then developed other benefits and programs, including a discount mail order pharmacy service.
Over the years NRTA heard from thousands of others who wanted to know how they could obtain insurance and other NRTA benefits without being retired teachers. After ten years, Dr. Andrus realized the time had come to create a new organization open to all Americans. Today, NRTA is a division within AARP.
In 1963, Dr. Andrus established an international presence for AARP by founding the Association of Retired Persons International (ARPI), with offices in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C. While ARPI disbanded in 1969, AARP has continued to develop networks and form coalitions within the worldwide aging community, promoting the well-being of older persons internationally through advocacy, education and service.
Since its inception in 1958, AARP has grown and changed dramatically in response to societal changes, while remaining true to its founding principles:
A society in which everyone ages with dignity and purpose, and in which AARP helps people fulfill their goals and dreams.
AARP is dedicated to enhancing quality of life for all as we age. We lead positive social change and deliver value to members through advocacy, service, and information.
“To serve, not to be served.”
The AARP motto was articulated by our founder, Ethel Percy Andrus (1884-1967), and we proudly carry it forward.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for Americans 50+ and the world’s largest-circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for the 50+ audience; AARP VIVA, a bilingual lifestyle multimedia platform addressing the interests and needs of Hispanic Americans; and national television and radio programming including My Generation and Inside E Street. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.