AARP Arkansas: Empowering people to choose how they live as they age [North Metro Business Journal]

While AARP is often known for discounts and its “active” use of the U.S. Postal Service, AARP is, first and foremost, a social mission organization empowering people to choose how they live as they age.   

Through Arkansas volunteers, AARP helps ensure that those 50+ live vibrant lives and have information and tools for health security, financial resilience, and other matters.  

What AARP does in Arkansas might surprise you. Here are a few offerings: 

  • Free movie screenings and advance premieres. 
  • Workshops about managing debt and saving for the future. 
  • Inviting residents to tell us what they'd like to see more of in the area. 
  • Helping caregivers to connect with people like them, learn about new resources and relax. 
  • Giving you tips on how to use new technology. 

You can find AARP information and resources from wherever you are with our new Virtual Outreach program that offers a variety of webinars, special events and other activities you can engage in from home. Learn more at

We are on-the-ground in Arkansas with an office in Little Rock and activities across the state, including Conway, thanks to hundreds of AARP volunteers contributing their time and energy. 

You will find AARP working to protect and update Medicare and Social Security, lower the cost of prescription drugs, and ensure access to affordable healthcare. AARP is deeply committed to its 60-year history of being a non-partisan organization. We advocate for the interests of all those over 50. Unlike other organizations, AARP does not buy our influence. We do not give money to political candidates. We do not have a Political Action Committee (or PAC). 

AARP is helping local communities become “livable” for people of all ages. For example, AARP helped fund the bike corral in downtown Conway. In October, we are sponsoring the Arkansas PBS election debates and will be back in Conway for a November Veterans Arkansas PBS show we are supporting. 

AARP helps local communities become “livable” for people of all ages and helped fund the bike corral in downtown Conway.

AARP helps local communities become “livable” for people of all ages and helped fund the bike corral in downtown Conway.

To fully understand AARP as it exists today, it helps consider how one person’s power with leadership, passion, and vision can impact many lives. Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, founder of AARP and its first volunteer, had that kind of impact. She had the power to make life better for millions of people by creating AARP 60 years ago.   

After retiring from 41 years as an educator, and spurred by a growing concern about access to medical care, Dr. Andrus focused on establishing an affordable group health insurance policy for retired teachers – the first such group policy of its kind in America. Soon Dr. Andrus turned her energies to issues facing all Americans entering their retirement years, including health care, medical insurance, and creating a framework in which people could channel their skills and experience to serve their communities.  

In 1958, Dr. Andrus, already a nationally known advocate, founded AARP. Throughout the establishment and growth of both the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) and AARP, Dr. Andrus recruited and was supported by the energy, efforts, and commitment of many volunteers, playing roles ranging from advocacy to service, from communication to education and beyond. Through her tireless dedication and far-reaching vision, plus the hard work and service of volunteers, AARP stands as the nation’s leading organization and voice for people age 50 and older. 

Mindful of the issues our founder Dr. Andrus tried to address, we still face significant challenges. 

Only a small fraction of the Boomers who are nearing retirement are financially prepared to retire. 

Programs like Medicare and Social Security are all too often at risk on Capitol Hill. But they are critical to older Americans. In Arkansas, 53% of those receiving Social Security rely on it for 50% or more of their income. Almost a third of Social Security recipients in Arkansas depend on it for 90% or more of their income. 

We are also striving to make it easier for older people to live with independence and remain in their homes and communities for as long as they can, surrounded by family and friends. We are doing this by: 

  • Supporting the millions of family caregivers who provide unpaid care to their loved ones with resources and tools. 
  • Advocating for and providing better quality, affordable and accessible services to help people live independently and the family caregivers who support them. 
  • Working to ensure people can live in their homes and communities for as long as possible by advocating for more resources and services to assist those who need care. 
  • Helping families navigate the confusing care systems to provide support for their loved ones. 

There is much to be done on these and other issues. Fortunately, we have a dedicated group of volunteers working to make life better for all Arkansans. AARP deeply depends on – and values – our volunteer corps’ expertise and energy. Hundreds of members, including Conway residents, are hard at work to help bring positive social change across Arkansas. Teams of volunteers are working together to keep people informed about caregiving resources and staying safe from scams, reaching out to the community to help make sidewalks and crosswalks safe for people of any age, helping Veterans, preparing free tax returns, and saving lives through the AARP Safe Driver program.

Thanks to members and volunteers, AARP helps make where you live, work, and play an even better place. Visit and follow us on Facebook: AARPArkansas. 


This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of the North Metro Business Journal.