AARP Arkansas

With its state headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County), AARP Arkansas is affiliated with the national organization formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons. In 1999, the 501(c)(4) organization officially changed its name simply to the initials AARP, recognizing that many of its members continue to work full or part time. Arkansas AARP was formed in 2001.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan interest group focusing on issues affecting people over age fifty. Membership includes a monthly general interest magazine and an informational bulletin that have two of the largest circulations in the United States. According to AARP, it is one of the strongest, most influential lobbying groups in America on both the state and federal levels, with its efforts relating to matters that pertain to senior citizens.

The American Association of Retired Persons was formed on the national level in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired educator. In the twenty-first century, AARP is active in all fifty states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. While AARP is aimed at people aged fifty and beyond, interested people do not have to be over fifty years old to join.

The national organization claims to have almost 40 million members. In Arkansas, which has a statewide population of around three million, about 275,000 people belong to AARP Arkansas.

The Arkansas chapter is led by a director who reports to AARP’s national office in Washington DC. In addition, the chapter has a volunteer state president who serves as an ambassador for the organization to help communicate AARP’s vision. The volunteer state president also provides leadership for volunteers around Arkansas and helps to build partnerships across the state centering on issues that affect Arkansans aged fifty and over.

AARP Arkansas offers the kinds of benefits that are available through the national office, such as discounts on hotels, restaurants, and rental cars. The Arkansas branch also performs advocacy work on behalf of the state’s fifty-plus population along with community outreach and educational programs. An online newsletter from AARP Arkansas informs members about achievements, programs, and opportunities around the state.

In addition, AARP Arkansas provides a popular annual program in which seniors can receive tax preparation assistance. There is no requirement to be a member of AARP in order to take advantage of the tax preparation service, which is offered free of charge by IRS-certified volunteers.

Along with regular presentations around the state on such topics as Medicare and Social Security, some of the informational programs offered by AARP Arkansas have included career networking for senior citizens, caregiving resources, financial planning, and informational sessions on avoiding scams, particularly those that target older people.

Some programs from AARP Arkansas are presented in conjunction with other organizations, such as one called “Creating Livable Communities for Older Arkansans” in 2023. This free program, held at Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County), was co-sponsored by AARP Arkansas, Hendrix College, and the UAMS Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative. The event provided information about accessible transportation, diverse options for housing, planning for walkable streets, and how to foster a variety of activities and services for seniors.

A major area of interest for the Arkansas branch of AARP focuses on the state’s older veterans. According to AARP Arkansas, there are about 48,000 Arkansas veterans who are members. AARP Arkansas has a team that addresses the needs of veterans in the state, partnering with other groups to provide assistance to those who need it.

AARP Arkansas also participates in the national organization’s annual Andrus Award by soliciting nominations that spotlight outstanding volunteers from around the state who dedicate themselves to enriching their communities. In addition, the Arkansas chapter can nominate Arkansans for special honors such as AARP’s Purpose Prize, which awards $50,000 to deserving charitable organizations.

For additional information:
AARP Arkansas. (accessed May 8, 2024).

“AARP Arkansas: Empowering People to Choose How They Live as They Age.” Conway Chamber of Commerce. (accessed May 8, 2024).

“AARP Arkansas Launches Campaign to Protect Medicare—Proposed ‘Voucher’ Plan Threatens Benefits of Arkansans.” Arkansas Money & Politics. (accessed May 8, 2024).

“Creating Livable Communities for Older Arkansans’ Symposium Set for April 17 at Hendrix College.” Hendrix College. (accessed May 8, 2024).

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society


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