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Central Texas’ Aging Population and Caregivers Need More Services

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 17 October 2019
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 3167

On a typical day, members enjoy coffee, conversation and breakfast until about 10 a.m. After that, they can participate in activities scheduled throughout the day, which focus on both mental and physical stimulation. 

The centers are open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

In a 2018 survey by AGE of 400 Central Texas residents, one in 10 consider themselves a caregiver to an older adult and three in 10 say they will be one in the future, while almost one in five are not sure.

Women are more likely than men to say they are or will be a caregiver to an older adult (46 percent vs. 35 percent).

The survey respondents listed four major concerns in caring for an older adult: personal stress and/or depression, making good care choices for the older adult, their personal health and uncertainty of finances.

In 2021, AGE plans to open a Thrive Center in south Austin licensed for 75 people, which will serve south Travis, Hays and Bastrop counties. 

AGE Executive Director Suzanne Anderson is asking for help in finding a new location for the Round Rock Thrive Center, because they currently have 51 members (not all attend daily) and a waiting list of more than 30.

She said, “In order to serve the growing number of folks who need our Thrive Center services, we will need to move in 2020. We will need at least 4,500 square feet of space, as well as access to outdoor space. We would love help with reduced or free rent.”

Anderson added that they plan to build a larger, permanent facility in Wilco with easy accessibility for those dropping off their loved ones and that would include training rooms and office spaces.

The daily average revenue per person attending a center is $45, but it costs an average of $85 for every 10 hours of service.

The centers accept Medicaid, VA benefits, long-term care insurance or private pay of $65 per day, but that can be adjusted based on income.

At the Round Rock location, 39 percent pay through Medicaid, 14 percent with Veterans’ benefits and 47 percent out-of-pocket.

This facility has seven trained staff members, including a licensed vocational nurse. State law requires a ratio of one employee for every eight members.

Grants and foundations, individual donors, sponsorships and a few special events provide funding for the centers, but it’s insufficient so volunteers are needed.

Volunteers available on a weekly basis are in highest demand.

If you’re looking for community involvement, consider these centers. The Round Rock facility has five regular volunteers and several groups who provide entertainment throughout the year. 

AGE also provides medical equipment and incontinence items to older adults in need and accepts in-kind donations.

To view their wish lists, log onto http://tinyurl.com/y6duv4op   and on Amazon  http://tinyurl.com/y3eyvoza.

For more information on the Thrive Centers log onto  www.AGEofCentralTX.org or call 512-451-4611.

We lack a national policy and funding for adequate programs and services as our senior population continues to expand along with their need for caregivers. This nation needs to take a serious look at this problem and develop a fully funded national policy.

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