Aging

Capitol
KUT News

A bill filed Friday in the Texas Senate would lead to revoking the license of any nursing home with three or more violations. 

State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, filed this bill to raise the standards at nursing homes, which have gotten national criticism recently. Last year, national advocacy group Families for Better Care ranked Texas as the worst state for nursing home quality.

Schwertner's bill is informally called the three strikes bill because it would require the Department of Aging and Disability Services to revoke a nursing home’s license if the facility has three or more serious health and safety violations.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

A team of researchers, led by a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, has been studying characteristics of memory among World War II veterans.

The team is finding that these seniors have an unusual ability to remember their life stories, which may be a result of serving in that particular war.

Image courtesy flickr.com/hapal

The population of seniors in the greater Austin area is growing dramatically, and with that growth comes an increase in a number of services for the elderly. One example of that increased need takes place around Christmas time.

This year, more than 500 seniors in the greater Austin area, from South Austin up to Georgetown, will feel a little less alone during the December holidays because the for the first time, the national Be a Santa to a Senior program will distribute gifts here.

Credit flickr.com/jvandoor

Time marches on and, whether we like it or not, we age.
With age comes a decline in both physical abilities and mental acuity. Memory and cognition peak in our early twenties, then we begin a slow, steady decline of those functions as we approach our senior years. 

This week on "Two Guys on Your Head," Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke join host Rebecca McInroy to discuss how physical and mental stimuli can help combat the signs and symptoms of old age, stave off memory loss and help you be at your best well into your golden years.

Image courtesy flickr.com/hapal

Texas is the worst state in the nation when it comes to nursing home quality, according to a new report from a national advocacy group – Families for Better Care.

The group has ranked Texas last for the second year in a row, so Texas lawmakers have been discussing what to do to change this when they return to Austin in January.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

South Asian Indians make up the largest portion of Asian Americans in Austin, and within that group, seniors need meals and social interaction as much as anyone else. Many are isolated at home, however, and say free meal delivery programs don’t follow dietary restrictions.

As a result, a growing group of seniors of South Asian descent want a community kitchen to help meet their needs.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT /

Baby boomers have dominated the work force for decades, but now they’re fighting to stay in it as they live longer and can’t afford to live off of their savings in retirement.

Older job seekers have a hard time finding jobs – even in Austin.  Experts, however, say the growing aging population is one reason for hope.

Take Bill Hodges – he waited until the age of 57 to move to Austin, with no job prospects and dreams of a new life.

AARP

A national score card out today ranks states on the long-term services they provide for the elderly – and while Texas sits in the middle of the pack overall, it's at the very bottom in some important measures.

The report looks at indicators like affordability, quality of care and support for family caregivers. Overall, Texas ranks 30th on care for older adults. Minnesota tops the list while Alabama and Kentucky are at the bottom. Read more on the overall report.

But on some specific indicators, however, Texas is at the very bottom. In both quality of care and quality of life, Texas ranks 49th, according to the 2014 Long-Term Services and Supports Scorecard. High staff  turnover, the use of antipsychotic medications and a high rate of pressure sores pull the state's score down.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Seniors in the Rio Grande Valley’s Hidalgo County have dozens of day care centers to choose from – places that help keep seniors from spending the day home alone.

Centers like Mi Casa Adult Day Care in Mission, Texas – not far from McAllen – dot many street corners here in this part of the Rio Grande Valley. They offer rides to see the doctor, to pay bills or to pick up a social security check.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Some of the poorest seniors in Texas live in Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley.

Many only speak Spanish and don’t have access to the basics, like food or medical care. But a Texas A&M professor and his team of community health workers – or "promotoras de salud” – are trying to find ways to help seniors along the border improve those conditions. 

They're working in places like the colonia border town of Progreso, near the Mexican border. Progreso is  one of the poorest places in the one of the poorest counties in the United States. The unemployment rate is more than 10 percent.

The number of seniors living in Central Texas is soaring – and so is the cost of living.

That’s making “The Golden Girls” far more than a funny '80s TV show. The show's shared-living arrangement could become a template for senior housing in cities like Austin.

Helene Frager says she dreamt she would live like Blanche, Sophia, Dorothy and Rose by now. "I always had this fear of growing old and alone. When I used to watch the program, 'The Golden Girls,' I said, ‘Hey, they’re not too bad! They have companionship, they have each other, they can talk about things," she says. 

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

As older Americans make up a greater percentage of the population, more of them are finding themselves in need of home care workers.

That workforce is aging as well, and Texas is no exception. 

Take Henrietta City. She's in her early 60s and she helps Betty Finn in her early 80s every week. On a recent afternoon that meant trying to hang a clock on a wall of Finn’s apartment, but the work takes a lot of different forms. 

Phoebe Flanigan

With a vibrant live music scene, a bustling tech sector and a top-flight university, Austin seems like an oasis for young people.

However, the seemingly youthful Texas capital isn't wasted on the young. 

The Austin-Round Rock area has the fastest growing population of people between ages 55 and 64, and the third-fastest growing for those 65 and over, according to U.S. Census data. 

An organization called Power for Parkinson's is offering those affected by the disease a chance to step forward into an active, healthy life. 

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Almost 3 million people in Texas are between the ages of 65 and 85, according to the office of the state demographer. That number is expected to more than double by the year 2040.

Texas – like the rest of the country – lacks enough geriatric mental health professionals to match the population. So experts are looking at alternatives to help seniors overcome depression -- that includes one approach using technology.

flickr.com/mr-pi

LGBT Pride Month begins June 1. While many situations are unique to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience, you many think aging is not. But there are increased risks for LGBT seniors. 

flickr.com/8113246@N02

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is partnering with Baylor College of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study Alzheimer’s and similar neurodegenerative diseases.

Together, the researchers are forming the Neurodegeneration Consortium (NDC). The researchers plan to take what they say is a new approach to studying Alzheimer’s. Most previous research has been based primarily on one theory, which posits that Alzheimer’s and the related degeneration are caused by the build-up of a specific chemical in the brain.

But NDC investigators believe recent medical research and advances indicate that many factors may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. They plan to study and identify these factors and hope the knowledge they gain can be used to create better diagnostics and treatments for Alzheimer’s and similar conditions.

Photo courtesy sheilaz413 via Flickr

May is Older Americans Month — and every year.  more people fit into that category. The Administration on Aging says more than a quarter of Americans will be 60 or older by 2030.

The YMCA of Austin hosted a luncheon today for seniors to encourage them to stay physically and socially active. Research shows older adults are facing more problems with obesity than in decades past and seniors tend to spend less time socializing as they age.

Denise Thomas is the owner of Home Instead — an in-home care agency. She’s working with the YMCA to honor several area seniors who are bettering their lives and the lives of others by staying active and volunteering for groups like Meals on Wheels.