Identifying those who have lived to remember
Standard birth certificates were first developed in 1900 by the Bureau of the Census. In 1902, Congress established the Bureau as a permanent agency of the federal government, after which it began developing a system to collect vital statistics and data. By 1919, all states began collecting birth records, however a standard birth certificate was not adopted until the 1930s. Historically, there were racial disparities in registration between white and non-white births, which eventually decreased over time. Higher rates of missing data have also been associated with high-risk populations.
In 1900, only 5% of American women delivered children in hospitals, and as the system of standardized birth certificates was implemented throughout the country in the early 20th century, it missed a large percentage of people born at home. By 1955, hospital births had increased to 95% of the total number of births in the country, but even so, babies commonly left hospitals without full names on their birth certificate. In Boston, for example, roughly 1 in 25 birth certificates lacked a first name in the 1950s.
As of the 2010 census, there were 40.3 million people aged 65 or older. Over 38% of people in this age group have one or more disabilities, with the most common being difficulties walking, climbing stairs, and doing errands alone.
Without assistance, it may become a challenge for senior citizens to travel or use public transportation, which can “serve some or all trips for seniors who can no longer drive themselves or who are reducing their driving or have no working automobile.” In some rural communities, there is no public transportation, while others typically provide it infrequently.
Many states waive the application fees associated with applying for government identification and/or required documentation for senior citizens.