AGE of Central Texas Partners with City of Austin to Provide Transportation Options for Older Adults Living in HACA Properties

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To provide additional support for senior adults living in City of Austin housing, AGE of Central Texas has partnered with the City and fellow community non-profit partner Family Eldercare to provide transportation opportunities for low income senior adults living at seven of the Housing Authority of City of Austin (HACA) residential properties.

As a member of the City’s social services “Living Well! Collaborative,” AGE of Central Texas will offer free, ongoing weekly routes to area shopping centers and group activities to the residents, utilizing the non-profit organization’s existing handicap-accessible vans.  AGE will help “promote self-sufficiency across the Life Continuum” as described as the purpose of the City grant after the original provider was unable to fulfill the responsibilities of the contract. Continue reading

Misconceptions About Dementia

dementia_umbrella_graphicBy Lisa Daly

Yesterday, I overheard a health professional describe her own mother as not having “Alzheimer’s” but just “dementia.” I have heard this many times throughout my career in the memory care field, and it is something that I would like to clarify.

“Dementia” is actually an umbrella term used to describe a severe degeneration in the brain function of adults. This degeneration is progressive and extreme enough to interfere with a person’s Instrumental Activities of Daily Life (IADLs) – such as driving, managing finances, and cooking. As the dementia progresses, it most often will affect a person’s ability manage their own Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – such as bathing, dressing, and toileting.

Alzheimer’s disease is one category under the dementia umbrella. There are many types and categories of dementias. I ask families to think of it this way: if a doctor says your loved one has cancer, what would your next question be? “What type of cancer?” As with cancer, dementia is the general term.

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The Importance of Fun/Life Balance

hatday_blog.jpgBy Heidi Fischer, Program Director
AGE of Central Texas Austin Adult Day Health Center

So many of us get caught up in the whirlwind of life that it becomes really challenging to find time to smell the roses.  At the AGE of Central Texas Adult Day Health Centers, we believe that the proper amount of fun/life balance is an essential component of wellness.

Respite provides the perfect opportunity for embracing who we really are without other distractions.  The benefits of respite care are many, so let’s break this down a bit and look at what respite really feels like:

  • The caregiver relaxes and enjoys respite when two things happen:  their loved one is in a safe place AND their loved one is in an environment that is stimulating and enjoyable to them.
  • Their loved one, in turn, relaxes and enjoys being in a safe, caring, and softly dynamic environment.

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AGE of Central Texas Celebrates 30th Year of Service to the Community

AGE of Central Texas celebrates its 30th year in 2016.  To mark this landmark anniversary, the community organization will debut a new “Caregiver Lecture Series,” recognize philanthropic leaders with the 22nd annual AGE Awards, and launch the Bert Kruger Smith and Willie Kocurek Legacy Fund in honor of the organization’s co-founders.

Bert_Kruger_Smith_and_Willie_Kocurek_captionedFounded 30 years ago as “Austin Groups for the Elderly,” AGE of Central Texas has grown extensively to serve older adults and their caregivers throughout Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, and Hays counties.  Census numbers indicate the population of adults 60 and older in Central Texas will grow by 67% by the Year 2020, so the need for services for older adults and family caregivers will climb rapidly during the next few years.

Today, an estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease or similar dementia, and the number of individuals diagnosed each year is growing steadily as the population ages. Today’s treatments only temporarily ease some dementia symptoms, so the need for AGE’s programs and resources – including therapeutic adult day health care in Austin and Round Rock, caregiver education and resources, and early memory loss support – remains at an all-time high and growing.

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Claude’s Thanksgiving

By Annette Juba, LCSW
Deputy Director of Programs at AGE of Central Texas

cornucopia_ENGAGE_Fall2015As a social worker who has worked with older adults for my entire career, I have heard a lot of life stories. Professionally, these stories, their importance, and their interpretation are wrapped into a paradigm called “narrative theory.” Practically, they are moving or funny or evocative. Always, they are inspirational.

With the holidays upon us, I’d like to tell you the story of one of the first clients who made a lasting impression on me: Claude was an inaugural member of an Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Support Group that I facilitated. This was in the days when “Alzheimer’s” was used sparingly. More often than not in my early career, people with cognitive deficits were diagnosed with “Organic Brain Syndrome.”

When the group formed, I was new to the social work field. Most of my direct experience came from working as an Activity Director in a nursing home. As an Activity Director, it had been my job to create experiences and events that would be fun and make people happy.

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The Case for Respite

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By Rob Faubion, Marketing & Outreach Manager at AGE of Central Texas

I just returned from a much-needed vacation – my first real vacation in 11 years – and it made me think about how, as a fellow caregiver, we recharge our batteries.  I didn’t realize until I was actually on-the-road just how much I needed my recent break.  And now that I’m back in my daily full-swing, I’m really glad I made myself take that time away.

AGE just hosted our 14th annual “Striking a Balance” Caregiver Conference with our partners at the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area, and our keynote speaker – noted author and aging expert Dr. Sara Qualls – spoke eloquently on how caregivers need to make time to take of themselves.  We all recognize that fact, but we often find ourselves so deep in our caregiving responsibilities that taking a break becomes a fantasy instead of a necessity.

But here is the reality: caregivers are four times more likely to have major physical and mental disruptions than the average adult.  We are putting ourselves through so much (emotionally, physically and mentally) as caregivers that if we don’t find the time to take care of ourselves, we are guaranteed to eventually hit a wall.  And that is not going to help the loved one in our care.

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Summer Travel Tips

By Faith Unger

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Every work day I eat the very same breakfast—oatmeal, juice, soy milk, and green tea.  Is it because this is a favorite meal choice?  No, it’s because I’m not a morning person, so fixing the same breakfast every morning saves me from thinking.  I do it on auto pilot.

Similarly, an individual with a cognitive disability thrives on using auto pilot.  For them, the brain pathways don’t work as well as they formerly did, so thinking requires more effort.  Staying in a routine and doing things the same way every day requires less thinking.

Traveling shakes up the old routine, and takes away the familiarity, requiring more thinking effort, which increases the stress and anxiety that further impedes the thinking process.  Knowing all this, and experiencing all this, may make a caregiver decide to forgo travel—but not this traveler!

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