Setting Public Policies

AARP’s Public Policy Development Process

The development of AARP’s public policy positions is central to the organization’s mission. AARP’s public policy development process is designed to keep the organization at the vanguard of issues that shape the lives of Americans as they live and age, now and in the future.

The process for developing policy is overseen by AARP’s Board of Directors to ensure commitment to the organization’s mission and purpose. The Board includes members from a variety of professional and geographic backgrounds to obtain a range of viewpoints and perspectives, and to reflect the diversity of AARP’s membership.

The process of developing policy recommendations is facilitated by the Office of Policy Development and Integration, under the direction of the Chief Public Policy Officer. This includes extensive input and analysis of the views of AARP members and other people age 50 and older throughout the nation, as well as studying policy options to develop innovative and thoughtful solutions that address the needs of this population.  AARP staff and volunteers, as well as internal and external policy experts from across the country, contribute to the formulation of AARP’s policy.

Listening to Americans 50 and older

The policy development process capitalizes on AARP’s innovations as a “listening” organization in touch with our diverse membership through many different channels.

Over the last several years, AARP has significantly increased our focus on listening to the voices of people 50 and older, our members, and our volunteers across the country. AARP has offices in all 50 states, D.C. and the territories which are highly active in communities nation-wide. AARP has also enhanced its research capacity and regularly surveys our members and people 50 and older on key issues. In addition, AARP has expanded its presence and engagement on social media platforms as well as our real-time response capabilities allowing the organization to receive ongoing input and feedback from members.

AARP volunteers from around the country also are a critical component of our policy development process. They provide feedback during the process and share their knowledge and experience on policy topics.

Staying in close touch with the interests and concerns of people 50 and older allows us to quickly gather the views of a diverse cross-section of volunteers, members, and the public to inform our policy analysis and recommendations.

Inclusive and Respectful Terminology

Determining what language to utilize to describe people is complex. People can have deeply held complicated views of what they would like to be called. The dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion is broad and growing. Definitions of identity and the terminology utilized to refer to different groups are continuously evolving and changing.

As a social mission organization with a long history of opposing discrimination in all forms and advocating for respect for all individuals and groups, our goal is to be as respectful as possible, understanding that racial and ethnic identity is personal and to acknowledge that some people may self-identify with different terms from what we use. We intend in all cases to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

At the same time, we understand that there is no universal agreement on the most appropriate race or ethnicity label for the diverse populations in the United States. The best practice is to consider the specific context and a person’s personal preference and respect their wishes in the terminology used. In writing documents for broad use such as the Policy Book it is not possible to differentiate the terminology utilized to meet all individual preferences. 

There are times in the Policy Book where we need a broad and collective term to indicate many different groups, for example in calling for strong protection against discrimination. When necessary, we also utilize language to identify specific groups (except in cases where a resource, reference, case, or quotation may use alternate terminology). For more information about the terms used, please contact us as at

The AARP Public Policy Book and Policy Fundamentals

Every two years, AARP publishes its Policy Book to inform people where we stand. In addition we also publish a shorter companion piece, AARP Policy Fundamentals, which provides a high-level overview of AARP’s policy approach to Better Health, Financial Security, Livable Communities, Consumer Rights and Protections, COVID-19, and cross-cutting issues of eliminating disparities and promoting government integrity.