What is the AARP?

happy senior couple
AARP encourages a healthy, active lifestyle.

For decades, AARP has been providing useful information to seniors about a range of issues, along with senior-oriented discounts and products. Today, the organization is one of the most widely-known senior citizen groups in the world. The benefits and information offered through the organization can save seniors lots of money, not to mention lots of time trying to figure out things that AARP has already researched and can provide the facts on instantaneously. Check out the benefits to see if membership might be a good idea for you.

AARP History and Mission

Founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus as the American Association of Retired Persons, the organization formally changed its name to the four letter acronym in 1999 to minimize the misconception that individuals must be retired in order to be members. The organization is made up of more than 35 million members, age 50 or older. Some members are retired, but many work either part-time or full-time.

In total, there are more than 2,500 local AARP chapters, with multiple chapters found in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The national headquarters of AARP is located in Washington, D.C.

The organization's mission is simple: to demonstrate that "age is just a number and life is what you make it." The organization strives to help individuals age with dignity, purpose, and to maintain independent living conditions as far into one's elderly years as possible. To do this, AARP provides tools that seniors need in order to stay informed on how popular topics such as taxes, health care, housing, travel, etc. affect them, and what issues seniors need to be aware of as they age.

Membership Benefits

Becoming a member has many benefits, not least of which are frequent discounts and access to publications that provide updated information about important issues for seniors. Other membership benefits include free seminars, exclusive events, and the simple joy of being part of an active community with like-minded individuals.


Discounts are one of the most well-known and sought-after benefits of AARP membership. Many discounts are seasonal or for limited-time promotions, but frequent options include:

Travel discounts are always popular.
  • Home, auto, life, and health insurance
  • AARP Travel discounts for hotels, cruises, tours, airfare, and resorts
  • Credit card services provided through Chase Bank and Visa
  • Legal consultation and services
  • Online merchant discounts
  • Local discounts for restaurants, attractions, and specialty stores
  • Education loans for continuing courses or career changes

Exact discounts vary by region; interested individuals should contact their local chapter for detailed information and current offers.

Information from AARP

Another important component to the services AARP provides is information. Through a variety of formats, including free online seminars, the AARP magazine (published six times a year), and the monthly newsletter, seniors can access information on a multitude of topics, such as:

  • Identity theft
  • Reverse mortgages
  • Driver safety
  • Stress Reduction
  • Exercise
  • Charity donations
  • Estate planning
  • Taxes
  • Travel
  • Healthy living
  • Exercise

The publications are written with seniors' issues in mind; for example, a driver safety article will focus exclusively on issues that affect the safety of seniors on the road, such as how to compensate for slower reaction time and less acute vision. This focus gives seniors the information they need without the hassle or time that would be required to wade through tips and statistics about the topics that don't apply to older individuals. AARP's focus is clearly on senior citizens, making their information pertinent and focused.

AARP News Resources

The organization offers several resources for seniors to stay updated on news and information. In addition to local memos from individual chapters, there are three main news resources:

  • AARP Magazine: Launched in 2002, AARP Magazine offers insight into hot topics and newsworthy issues that every senior can relate to. Additional features include profiles of elderly celebrities and other active seniors, as well as helpful tips and tricks on various topics.
  • Newsletter: Published 11 times per year, the regular newsletter offers more up-to-date information than the magazine, with a high density of strictly-informational features offering practical advice as well as updates about AARP news.
  • Website: The official AARP website offers a tremendous array of features and articles in an easy-to-navigate format. Text size can be adjusted for different needs, and a variety of games and fun items are also available for web-savvy seniors.

Contact Information

To learn more about the organization and sign up for membership, seniors can call 1-800-OUR-AARP (1-800-687-2277) on weekdays from 7 a.m. to midnight (Eastern time), fill out the application online, or write to:

601 E Street NW
Washington, DC 20049

Enjoy the Benefits of AARP Membership

Becoming a member is quick and simple, and you can reap the benefits of this helpful organization for the rest of your senior years.

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What is the AARP?