September is National Falls Prevention Month

According to the National Council on Aging, 1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ falls every year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for American older adults.  And the financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach more than $101 billion by 2030.

These are frightening statistics, but the good news is that falls are not a normal or inevitable part of aging– there are simple steps you can take today to reduce your risk or that of someone you love.

September has been designated “National Falls Prevention Month,” to bring attention to helping older adults and their family caregivers to prevent falls with simple fall prevention measures, from reviewing your medications to hazard-proofing your home.

Physical changes and health conditions, and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions, can make falls more likely as you age. Falls are costly — in dollars and in quality of life — but there are simple things that you can do to prevent them:

  • Exercise to improve balance and strength
  • Have your health care provider review your medications
  • Have your vision checked
  • Make your home safer

AGE of Central Texas provides free year-round falls prevention classes through its CaregiverU program. The evidence-based class series “A Matter of Balance,” along with the new virtual 2-class program “Empowering YOU to Prevent Falls,” both emphasizes practical strategies to manage falls and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.

To find a free falls prevention class near you, visit http://www.CaregiverUcentx.org.

See Also:
Fall prevention: Simple tips to prevent falls” from the Mayo Clinic
Get the Facts on Falls Prevention” from the National Council on Aging

Accessing Texas Area Libraries

For many caregivers and older adults, their local library can be a great source of knowledge, entertainment, and escape.  But sometimes, the local library is simply too limited in its selection or services.

Family caregiver David Coco has shared a list of area libraries that can be accessed by anyone, including ones that don’t require residency (but do requires an in-person visit) along with statewide libraries that don’t require residency nor an in-person visit.   The list also focuses on libraries who offered Kindle compatible e-books – via the app called Libby) – which is the most popular format in use now.  

David also discovered that many, but not all, of the libraries are part of a regional digital consortium that offers a much larger selection than a single library could offer.  He has found that you have a pretty good chance of finding most books if you are a member of three or more large libraries or digital consortia.

LibraryDigital ConsortiumNotes
Harris County
https://www.hcpl.net/
nonecan apply online for digital only card, full service card must apply in person
Montgomery County
https://www.countylibrary.org/
Houston Area Digital Consortiumcan apply online for digital only card, full service card must apply in person
Houston
https://houstonlibrary.org/
nonecan apply online for digital and full service card, will mail card, if requested
North Richland Hills
https://library.nrhtx.com/
North Texas Libraries to Go Digital Consortiumcan apply online for digital only card, full service card must apply in person
Riter C. Husley (Terrell)
http://www.hulseypubliclibrary.org/
North East Texas Digital Consortiumcan apply online for digital only card, full service card must apply in person
Rosenberg
https://rosenberg-library.org/
Houston Area Digital Consortiumcan apply online for digital only card, full service card must apply in person
Wimberley
https://wimberleylibrary.org/
Central Texas Digital Consortiumfree to Texas res. apply online for digital only card, full service card must apply in person
Wells Branch
https://www.wblibrary.org/
Central Texas Digital Consortiummust apply in person, 30 days waiting period for permanent card
Round Rock
www.roundrocktexas.gov/city-departments/
nonemust apply in person, 30 days waiting period for permanent card

AGE of Central Texas Breaks Ground on New South Center

Regional nonprofit organization AGE of Central Texas broke ground on a facility in South Austin on Tuesday, June 7th.  Slated to be completed in the summer of 2023, the new center will provide programming and support for older adults and family caregivers, including a state-of-the-art, non-residential adult day health center for older adults living with memory loss or dementia.

“AGE is so excited to bring this project to life,” said AGE’s Chief Development Officer Jayden Beatty. “Donors from all walks of life in our community have come together to bring this needed resource to South Austin. Thanks to them, thousands of older adults and family caregivers will get the help they need.”

The mission of AGE of Central Texas is to help older adults and family caregivers navigate the realities and opportunities of aging and caregiving. Founded in 1986, AGE has become a thought leader in the aging space, offering the most affordable care for older adults and those who care for them.

The new 20,000 square foot center, funded through philanthropic contributions, will house all six of AGE’s comprehensive community programs, including a new Thrive Social & Wellness Center, AGE’s state licensed adult day health center. The new Thrive Center has been designed to provide specialized and personalized care for older adults living with memory loss or cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, and will be licensed to serve up to 75 individuals daily.

The St. David’s Foundation is the lead investor of the Thrive Campaign project and has been joined by major contributors that include H-E-B, the Anderson Charitable Foundation, and the Moody Foundation.

“Not only do adult day health centers provide an enriching experience including social connection and mental engagement for the older adult community, but they also provide families the opportunity to take a moment to recover and recharge – as well as the ability to work during the day,” said St. David’s Foundation President and CEO, Dr. Ed Burger.

AGE launched their comprehensive major gifts campaign, Thrive: A Campaign to Add Life to Every Year, in 2017 to fund a multi-stage expansion plan designed to grow AGE’s programs to better serve the Central Texas aging community. Central Texas is home to the second fastest growing 65+ population and the fastest 55-64 year old population in the country.

“No one is talking about how we are going to accommodate this population that is growing so rapidly and whose needs are growing along with them,” Thrive Campaign Chair Lina Supnet-Zapata said. “Older adults should mean as much to us as the incoming youth do to this city. We can’t leave them behind”

The first stage in the Thrive Campaign is to expand into South Austin, an area local city leaders identified as a “services desert” where older adults and family caregivers lack access to needed care. As a whole, AGE seeks to use the Thrive Campaign to spark conversation to change the way Central Texans think and talk about aging and shine a light on the growing need within the local aging population.

“We want to serve older adults and family caregivers so thoroughly – and in such a personal way – that their focus can broaden from survival to renewal,” AGE’s Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Anderson said. “Our new facility is expected to double the number of people AGE is able to serve each year and will offer immediate relief for older adults and family caregivers throughout South Austin and the surrounding areas.”

The ground breaking on June 7th also launches public giving campaign to complete the funding for the new South Center.  For more information on making a donation, visit http://www.AgeThriveCampaign.org or contact AGE’s Chief Development Officer, Jayden Beatty, at JBeatty@AGEofCentralTX.org.

Impact of the Pandemic on Caregiver Families

By Caleb Masuaku, AGE of Central Texas

     Almost 3 years ago, the conoravirus pandemic disrupted the livelihood of every single American.  Millions of people lost their jobs, principally women. According to The Wall Street Journal, labor force participation rate for men is down 1% and down 2.5% for women since February 2020.  Men between 24 to 54 years old have the highest rate of labor force participation and women over 55 years old have the lowest rate of labor force participation, coincidently almost 50% of caregivers are over 49 years old and 61% are women.

     As schools, daycares, and older adult centers closed, many people were forced to quit their full-time jobs to become principal caregivers to their children, older parents, and loved ones. Since the spring of 2020, more than 3.5 million mothers with school-aged children have lost their jobs, took leaves, or left the workforce entirely, according to the census bureau.

     People continue to have a hard time balancing work and household responsibilities, and because of the way our society is structured, mothers are getting the biggest hit. Up to 53 million people in the U.S. provide care to another person, and women amount to 61% of that population. Between 2015 to 2021, the number of American providing care jumped from 18% to 21%, the number of family caregivers experiencing difficulty jumped from 19% to 26%, and self-reporting of poor health of family caregivers increased from 17% to 21% (Caregiving in the US 2020 | The National Alliance for Caregiving).  This shows how detrimental the pandemic has been for family caregivers and why people feel forced to quit their full-time positions to take care of family members.

     Research conducted by AARP shows that remote work has been helpful for family caregivers.  Of 800 people surveyed, 89% stated that remote work helped them manage their caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic. Moreover, 52% continue to work from home as businesses reopened, and 48% of them would like to permanently work from home.

     Due to the stress causation and uncertainty the pandemic has caused, family caregivers expressed that flexibility is the key to their return to a traditional work environment. 43% stated that they would look for another position if employers removed accommodation implemented during the pandemic – such as telework, flexible hours, additional vacation, or sick leave.

      In another survey of 1,508 of U.S mothers who identify as primarily caregivers, researchers found that only 31% planned to return to the workforce full-time during the next 12 months, and 69% planned to remain at home as a full-time caregiver (Lack of Flex Arrangements Keep Moms from Returning to Work (shrm.org)).

     For caregivers that previously held outside jobs, the toll of caregiving responsibilities has hampered their return to the workforce due of the uncertainty of flexible work opportunities that can allow them to balance work and caregiving obligations at home for their children and parents.

     As surprising as it is, many employers are not aware of the caregiving journey of some of their employees. A recent survey reported that only 52% of working caregiving disclose the information to their employers.

      Despite this reality, many big companies have implemented a systems to help their caregiver employees to balance work and caregiving responsibilities. Facebook provides 4 months parental leave at 100% pay for new parents.  The company has also partnered with Wellthy, a health-tech care concierge firm that connects employees and families with a care coordinator to help them manage and coordinate care for a chronically ill, aging, or disabled loved one through its online platform.

     Care coordinators can also help with a number of tasks – including contesting insurance bills, making appointments, or finding a long-term care community. Not all companies are able to provide such a service to their employees, but there are some other opportunities that companies can implement to retain their caregiving employees, including:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • Remote work or telework
  • Reducing hours from full-time to part-time
  • Job sharing and/orreduced workload
  • Specialized caregiver services

     AGE of Central Texas offers programs to support working caregivers, including the AGE Thrive Social & Wellness Centers.  Located in in Austin and Round Rock, the Centers are the longest-operating, licensed adult day care programs in Central Texas, providing exceptional daytime care for older adults with physical needs or memory loss.

     In our secure facilities, your loved one will receive expert care from compassionate staff that are equipped to handle your loved one’s challenging health and memory loss-related needs. Your loved one can enjoy an active, social day while receiving the care and support he or she needs in a vibrant community setting.

     Our philosophy is to put the person first before their diagnosis.  We believe the unique passions and personalities of the individuals that spend with us every day are what makes our award-winning centers so exceptional.  For more information, visit http://www.AGEofCentralTX.org.

May Is National “Older Americans Month”

Every May, the Administration on Aging—part of the Administration for Community Living—leads the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. For 2022, the theme will be “Age My Way,” to encourage and celebrate the countless contributions that older adults make to our communities.

Older adults’ time, experience, and talents benefit family, peers, and neighbors every day. This year’s theme highlights the ways everyone can make an impact in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen communities.

Communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger. By engaging and supporting all community members, Central Texas residents can recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives.

AGE of Central Texas offers numerous opportunities for older adults to “Age My Way” — from our vibrant Thrive Social & Wellness Centers to the new Memory Connections Online program. For more information and list of all the AGE of Central Texas programs and opportunities, visit www.AGEofCentralTX.org.

It’s Time to THRIVE!

Lauren Duerksen
Program Director, AGE Thrive Social & Wellness Center

     Universally, the COVID pandemic changed a lot in our worlds. Most of us were isolated from family and friends; we avoided hugs and handshakes and social gatherings; some of us started (and continue) to work from home, juggling the work that pays the bills with the work of caring for others, all while our dogs were barking at delivery trucks, our cats were making their appearance during virtual meetings, and/or we were teaching our children at home.

     Before the pandemic, social isolation was already problematic for older adults.  The CDC links loneliness and social isolation to serious health conditions such as premature death, depression, and anxiety, among other health risks. As we emerge from the pandemic days of being stuck at home, we look for the opportunities that reconnect us to each other and to the communities we so deeply missed the last couple of years. Adult day health centers are an excellent place for older adults to receive supervision or services while socializing with peers and easing the loneliness, boredom, or isolation they may be experiencing.  Additionally, caregivers of older adults need time to take care of themselves so they can continue to fulfill the needs of another person.

     Whether you work from home and need time to focus, you need a break so you can get your errands done, or you just want a day or two to yourself, AGE of Central Texas Thrive Social & Wellness Centers provide daytime care for older adults with physical needs or memory loss. Our Thrive Center members engage in an active, social day while receiving the care and support they need in a vibrant community setting.

     Our Thrive Centers in Austin and Round Rock are the longest-operating licensed, non-residential day activity and health service centers in Central Texas. Our program provides daytime care and social wellness support for older adults with physical or cognitive needs. This includes:

  • Expert Care: we are staffed with a full-time nurse to assist with medication management and health monitoring.
  • All-Inclusive: we provide nutritious meals, transportation options (depending on location and availability), and engaging activities such as music, brain boosters, and exercise.
  • As a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting people all along the spectrum of growing older, we never want finances to be a barrier to excellent care. Our low private rate of $70/day is an affordable option, though we do provide a sliding scale application for those who qualify. We also accept Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, and long-term care insurance.
  • Our rigorous infectious control policies and procedures have mitigated the spread of COVID in our centers while we continue to provide these crucial services.

     Both locations are open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  We encourage participants to attend the Thrive Centers at least twice a week and stick to their regular routine to develop consistency and reap the most benefit for the participant. Your loved one will enjoy nutritious meals, lots of fun, and still get to go home at the end of day, ready to come back for more!

     When care partners come to the initial assessment, we discuss goals for their participant’s time in the Thrive Center, such as socializing outside of the home, enjoying enriching activities that are planned by a skilled Activity Director, or simply spending a fun day in a safe place. Often times, after their first visit, caregivers report to us
that their Thrive Center member was happier, more engaged, or had their best day they’ve had in years when they go home at the end of the day.     

     While COVID changed a lot about our worlds, we know now more than ever it’s important to stay involved and connected in communities where we belong. Our Thrive Social & Wellness Centers are a place of accepting community who meet everyone where they are. We welcome you to give it a try and find a place to belong!

Interested in learning more?
Call or email us today!

Central Austin Location:
3710 Cedar Street, Austin, TX 78705
(512) 458-6305
Email: CentralAustinThrive@AGEofCentralTX.org

Williamson County Location:
475 Round Rock West Drive #120, Round Rock, TX 78681
(512) 255-4865
Email: WilcoThrive@AGEofCentralTX.org

What Happens When Your Care Recipient Has a Serious Illness?

By Faith Unger, M.Ed.
CaregiverU Program Director

What happens to the caregiver role when the care recipient has a serious illness? Well, for starters there are a myriad of decisions to make, starting with the decision to take the person to an emergency room at the medical center, and that’s quickly followed up by making the decision on which medical center. Should proximity be the deciding factor or should it be familiarity? Familiarity usually also means where there is an established patient record.  These decisions need to be made quickly under great stress. Then once the person is at a medical facility, there are many testing options and care options.  All will be up to you, the caregiver.

When the care receiver is admitted to the hospital, the caregiver becomes communicator and advocate in chief. The caregiver is the person who knows the care receiver best—the strengths, the weaknesses, and what works best.  I recently experienced this situation, and one of my weaknesses was that I did not know much about the medical community and the processes and procedures therein.  I learned much from my experience and now want to help you learn those things so that perhaps you will have a smaller learning curve when you have the same situation. Continue reading

How Caregivers Can Continue to Learn

By Faith Unger, M.Ed., Program Director of CaregiverU

September is traditionally thought of as the back to school month. Just saying that phrase, “back to school,” evokes a ton of special memories—new clothes, new school supplies, and new things to learn.

What if caregivers could begin a new school year?  Learn something new totally unrelated to caregiving? What a concept! What a soul feeder! The thought intrigues many a caregiver, but that thought is usually followed by another—no time for that luxury.

But wait a minute! There are numerous ways to meet that quest for new learning. Let’s explore a few that could be done during a few hours of regular respite care, during a longer time of carefully planned respite care, or during those special moments in the schedule when the care recipient is otherwise occupied as in sleep time.

Museums. Many museums have free days, so that cuts the cost—and if there is no cost, one feels freer to have a short stay!  And National Museum Day is Sunday, September 23, 2018, when you can enjoy free access to exhibits and activities at Austin-area museums (more info at http://www.austinmuseums.org/museumday/) Continue reading

May Is National Older American’s Month

OAM_logo_2018

Every May, the Administration on Aging—part of the Administration for Community Living—leads the nation’s observance of Older American’s Month. For 2018,
the theme will be “Engage at Every Age,” which emphasizes that you are never too old to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental and emotional well-being and celebrates the many ways older adults make a difference in our communities.

Participating in activities that promote mental and physical wellness, offering your wisdom and experience to the next generation, or seeking the mentorship of someone with more life experience than you are just a few examples of being engaged. Volunteering at your favorite non-profit organization also provides meaningful engagement that simultaneously positively impacts the community.

Understanding the Four Categories of Long-Term Care Facilities for Older Adults

By Michael Gill, President of Texas Senior Living Locators

There are four categories of long-term care available to senior adult individuals who no longer are able to live independently in a house or apartment:
– Skilled Nursing Facilities,
– Assisted Living,
– Memory Care, and
– Independent Living.
The appropriate category of long-term care to choose depends primarily on two factors:  finances and care needs.

In Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF), the majority of residents are receiving care paid for by either Medicare or Medicaid. About 20% of an average SNF’s residents are there for a short-term stay—usually three to six weeks—for rehabilitation therapy from physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Medicare residents qualify for this benefit if they have had a hospitalization of at least three nights.  Of long-term SNF residents, more than half are there using Medicaid benefits.

To qualify for Medicaid, a resident must be indigent—have less than $2,100 of monthly income and less than $2,000 of total assets—and must qualify medically. A large majority of Medicaid residents have dementia and cannot safely care for themselves. Continue reading