Caring for Ailing Parents

portrait of asian father and son.

Parents care for children, and then children grow up to become parents and care for their own children.  That’s the natural order of things—except when it isn’t.

Sometimes parents cannot care well for themselves, and need others to help. This is when children, purely out of love and concern, often begin to care for a parent.  Sometimes the caregiving journey is short-lived, because the need for care is temporary—such as when a parent has surgery or goes through treatment to regain health.  Sometimes it’s a long journey because the parent has a chronic illness such as dementia, or the after-effects of a stroke. When a child cares for an ailing parent, how is the parent/child relationship affected, and what can the child do to make the journey easier?

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8 Unselfish Ways to Put Yourself First

Our CaregiverU Program Director, Faith Unger, has a great mantra: “Caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint.”  All too often, caregivers are thrust into the role of taking care of a family member, with little warning and no training.

Wright at receptionAccording to the American Psychological Association, it is estimated that informal caregivers – typically spouses or adult children – provide 80 percent of the long-term care in the case of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Their 2003 study found that caregivers had a 23 percent higher level of stress hormones and a 15 percent lower level of antibody responses than non-caregivers.

Caregiving also takes a psychological toll. According to the National Family Caregivers Association, the roughly one out of four caregivers who care for a family member for at least 36 hours a week – basically making it a full-time job – are more likely to show signs of depression or anxiety.  Relative to peers who don’t provide on-going care, spouses can be depressed or anxious six times more often; adult children suffer these problems twice as often.

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May Is Older Americans Month

May Is Older Americans Month

prom_luluThe month of May represents national “Older Americans Month,” when communities across the country recognize older Americans for their contributions and demonstrate the nation’s commitment to helping them stay healthy and active.

This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, communities are focusing on how older adults are taking charge of their health, engaging in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.  President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law in July 1965. Since that time, the Act has provided a nationwide aging services network and funding that helps older adults live with dignity in the communities of their choice for as long as possible.

While AGE of Central Texas provides programs, education, and resources to older adults and their caregivers year-round, Older Americans Month offers an opportunity to emphasize how senior adults can access the home- and community-based services they need to live independently.  We are honored to be a part of the live of the older adults and family caregivers of this community, and to join them on their journey.

Thumbing Your Way to Health

large_article_im1466_Top_5_high-tech_health_trends_to_watch_in_2014What is better than learning how to use a smartphone for the first time?

How about learning to make your mind and body healthier with your device? How about taking a class from your peers? Then catching up with them over a cup of coffee after class?

The marriage between health and technology is becoming stronger every day. With the upcoming reign of wearable tech, the relationship between our digital devices and our bodies will grow. The AGE Computer Lab is here to help our community navigate it.  Continue reading

Does a license make a difference?

How does someone go about deciding if an Adult Day Care center (ADC) is a good fit for a loved one? There are many factors, but one important consideration is the question of licensing.

We understand that it’s not easy to entrust a loved one’s well-being to strangers. That is why licensing is important to AGE of Central Texas– we want to do everything we can to reassure family caregivers that our Adult Day Health Centers are safe and held to the highest standards.

In Texas, the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) licenses and surveys adult day care facilities to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations to protect individuals who are receiving these long-term care services.

Some of the requirements that licensed adult day care centers follow include: Continue reading

Meet Anne, A Volunteer


Anne is a Texas transplant- she moved here just over 6 months ago following the sudden death of her husband. She came to Texas looking for a fresh start and the chance to put down new roots in the aging industry, in which she has extensive experience. After attending a Get Acquainted with AGE monthly tour and luncheon, she found herself so taken with what AGE does that she decided to start volunteering. Anne wanted to keep herself busy as she settled into her new city, but she also wanted the chance to get to know the community and network with other professionals.

So, Anne began spending at least one day each week with the clients in AGE’s Austin Adult Day Health Center and another day providing administrative support to AGE’s health equipment lending closet. Immediately, it was clear that she has a special gift for this work.

Ultimately, Anne discovered that the purpose of her volunteer days goes much deeper than just networking and filling her time- she’s been impacted by her relationships with staff and clients alike. Her journey in the past year has not been easy, but her desire to serve others and give of herself has not faltered. Instead, Anne’s passion for helping others has helped her to find a place where she is needed and belongs.

Anne has a unique perspective as a seasoned volunteer and as a professional within the senior services arena. She says, “This community would be severely impacted if AGE was not here to offer services to older adults. One of the most concerning issues for seniors is isolation, and AGE does so much to connect their clients to things they love to do, to each other, and to the rest of the world.”

If you agree with Anne and think that what AGE of Central Texas offers is important to the community, please click here to learn more about how you can support the services that directly impact older adults in Central Texas. If you would like to find out more about how you can volunteer and get involved, please click here.

We at AGE of Central Texas are so grateful for the hard work and dedicated support from all of our volunteers and donors. Thank you for caring about the older adults in our community!

Meet Wilbur, A Client

“We all need assistance; we all need a helping hand. No person’s an island.”

Wise Words and a Personal Perspective:

‘Good Afternoon: My name is Wilbur.  I am a client at AGE’s Adult Day Care Center.  I am 87 years old and a World War II Army Combat Veteran.  I served in combat with the infantry in the European Theatre and in the Army of Occupation in Japan.  After my military service I was employed in the United States Postal Service from April 1946 until my retirement in January 1985.

He won a trophy today for ‘Best Dancer’ at the Carnival.

When my wife of 56 plus years of marriage passed away in November 2003, I, like so many elderly people had a decision to make.  To my good fortune my son and daughter-in-law gave me the opportunity to make my home with them in Austin.  Both my son and daughter-in law were still in the workforce.  Early in January 2004 my son and I visited Elderhaven (AGE’s Adult Day Health Center)- My first reaction was like most people.  Would I like Elderhaven and most of all would staff and clients accept me?  Not only was I accepted, but the clients voted me February King and my friend Queen.  I had not danced in years, so after we were crowned we danced like royalty.

The Activity Director at AGE’s Adult Day Health Center here in Austin is Theresa.  Theresa schedules our activities, and at the start of each month every client receives a calendar of daily activities for the month.  Every day we walk and we do exercise.  Some of our activities are arts and crafts, music, entertainment, games, trivia, sing-a-longs, dances, and a lot more.  All activities help the body, mind, and soul.  We have a snack in the morning and in the afternoon.

If you are considering someone who needs day care where you are treated with respect and all clients are treated equally, Elderhaven meets your needs.  Clients are from different ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds and we get along great.  At Elderhaven we have clients from 30 years of age to the mid 90’s.  We pray, laugh, and sometimes shed a tear.  I consider my fellow clients my second family.’

It is clients like Wilbur who remind us that community and compassion is so important in absolutely everything that AGE does. For those who don’t know, AGE’s funding (and that of several local non-profits) and ability to provide services to clients was severely damaged this week by the withdrawal of a major supporter. If you would like to join the AGE of Central Texas family by giving towards the direct services that benefit clients like Wilbur, please click here or send a check to AGE at 3710 Cedar St # 2 Austin, TX 78705. Feel free to reach us at or 512.451.4611.


Thank you for your love and support. And thank you for caring about the older adults of Austin and Central Texas.

A Little Slice of Paradise on Cedar Street

Have you seen the green garden of paradise on the corner of Cedar Street and 35th? Here is our story….

If you are walking along the sidewalk that lines Cedar Street and pass the corner at 35th Street on weekday morning, you might be interested in the group of elderly men and women sitting together in the yard, under the trellised roof of a wooden gazebo. They sit at the south end of the sprawling fenced lawn, at one corner of the historic AGE Building. Birds chirp overhead, the morning air is cool and the sun is shining.   The serenity is infectious and it is easy to smile as a wave from one of these older folks comes your way. Also noticeable is the size, almost 3,000 square feet, and the beauty of the yard.  There are potted plants, colorful blooms, looming sunflowers, birdbaths that adorn the yard.  A manicured pathway leads to a secluded meditation garden on the side of the building.

The elderly folks sitting outside are members of AGE of Central Texas Adult Day Health Center (Elderhaven), one of two adult day centers in Central Texas. The AGE building is the center’s home.  Members are picked up by the AGE van or brought by their family members during the weekdays. Many are working caregivers and need a place to bring their parents, grandparents, or spouses during the day so that they are safe, healthy, happy, and stimulated. AGE of Central Texas Adult Day Health Centers provides these things so that older people, and those with dementia and other disabilities, do not need to go into nursing home care prematurely, but can instead remain with their families and in their communities.

Since AGE adopted the adult day center from Lutheran Social Services in the late 1980’s, community groups, churches, schools and corporations have come to AGE for volunteer projects.  Here they have donated time and money to the garden efforts, while working together in team-building activities to enhance and improve the grounds and the experiences of the members of the adult day center. Volunteers from St. David’s Foundation, Promiseland Baptist Church, and the Eagle Scouts, to name just a few, have contributed hours of time to weeding the garden beds, watering the plants, and planting new life in the gardens.

Community support is not new to AGE, but something very special began to unfold in the fall of 2011: a synchronicity in the vision, dedication, and financial support of a number of individuals and groups that brought about the planning and implementation of a multiphase habitat project which would beautify the garden and create a certified wildlife habitat.

As the program director of the Adult Day Center in Central Austin, Stephanie Hoffman has always remained attentive to the things that make her members happy.  One day in the fall of 2011, she noticed that a few of her members had been particularly fixated on the lone birdhouse by a wall at the exterior of the building. “I thought that we needed more birdhouses, something that is going to stimulate clients emotionally and cognitively,” she remembers. When Hoffman received a phone call from a representative from the City of Austin LEAPS (Leadership Education Public Service) program a few weeks later asking for ideas for a project that they could plan as a group, she suggested building birdhouses.

Representatives from Urban Habitat Committee of the Travis Audubon Society, with offices located in the AGE Building, had for some time worked near the garden and taken notice of the environment, and they began to become involved in discussions about garden projects. According to Hoffman, it was in these first conversations that the question was asked, “What is it going to take for us to have a certified habitat?”

As these individuals and their respective organizations, including folks from the City of Austin Parks and Wildlife Department, began to create the habitat plan at the end of 2011, there were several central factors that guided the discourse and planning. Building an environmentally sustainable and economically sensible habitat meant that native Texas plants were chosen. Careful consideration of the four factors that the National Wildlife Federation looks for in certifying a habitat (providing food, water, shelter, and a place for raising young) influenced everything from the selection of the berry bushes to the placement of birdhouses.  At the forefront of the planning was always the positive impact of the environment on the older adults who attend the adult day center. Lynn Hill, one of the Urban Habitat Committee members leading the project said, “My mother lives in a retirement home in Michigan and it is beautifully landscaped, and I know that means so much to the residents to have a beautiful place to be.”

With the leadership of the Travis Audubon Society, the LEAPS program, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation department and numerous local businesses, individuals, corporations and community groups who donated plants, supplies and labor, Phase One and most of Phase Two have been completed, and an application for certification to the National Wildlife Federation has been submitted. Phase Three of the plan will create garden beds and habitats in other areas around the AGE Building. Adult Day Center members have been directly involved, helping to paint ceramic plant markers for the over 35 species of native Texas plants that occupy the beds.   Meredith O’Reilly, the Urban Habitat Steward who led the plant marker project, described the activity, “It was an absolute pleasure to see the smiles and artistic talents of the AGE clients who created very special and purposeful art for the garden.”

AGE of Central Texas opened its Adult Day Health Center garden for families on the last Wednesday of the month in May for the first-ever Concert for Caregivers, and there are plans to bring City of Austin Park Rangers to the gardens to engage members in activities related to wildlife. Anybody strolling through the neighborhood will continue to see these older folks outside engaged in discussion groups and enjoying the weather, amidst the flittering of butterflies and chirping of birds that will keep growing around them.

– Written by Amanda Lyles, AGE’s Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator.

Originally published by Austin Parks and Recreation in the July issue of their monthly newsletter, the ‘Habitat Herald’.

Guest Blog: “Respite Means Time to BREATHE” by Mel Brower, Elderhaven Program Director

Caregiving is a tough job, but going it alone makes it even harder. There are resources for seniors and their caregivers to find respite, or a break, for various lengths of time. However, even with the chance to take a “day off” caregiving, some caregivers don’t take advantage of opportunities to rest and relax. Mel Brower, Director of Elderhaven Adult Day Center of Williamson County shares some thoughts on what respite can really do for a caregiver. -SP


Respite means a time to BREATHE.  Finding respite options for a loved one in your care is a vital component to being a successful caregiver.  But more importantly,  once you find some good resources; it is now time for you to make some good decisions about how you are going to use this “breathing” room.


Care giving for a loved one is one of the most stressful life events that a person can experience.  Every person should know that the job of care giving should NEVER be the sole responsibility of just one person.  You must take time to take care of yourself.   You will save yourself much grief by taking the initiative of creating a “village” of resources to assist you in this journey.  The sooner you begin to reach out and find options the better your results will be.

The burden of care giving is a multidimensional challenge that every caregiver must navigate.  Every caregiver is faced with varying degrees of burden types.  Restrictions of your time and physical health issues such as chronic fatigue will layer on top of negative feelings like guilt, anger, and resentment.  Caregivers will often encounter conflicts with their care giving role to a parent or spouse as roles reverse. Some people will experience the feelings of not being able meet their developmental agenda such as having to deny a promotion or skip a vacation because of their care responsibilities, whereas a peer would be able to accept these opportunities.   It is these obligations that all caregivers will encounter that make the concern of a more satisfying respite experience so vital.

What was something that was important to me and I enjoyed before I was a caregiver?  This is one of the best questions to ask yourself as you begin to identify the best use of your respite time.  You will be more satisfied with your time off if you use it to connect with something that is important to whom you are as a person.   Here are some ways to make the most of your respite time

  • Create balanced expectations and goals for your respite time.  In a four hour time slot, you cannot expect to accomplish multiple loads of laundry and clean the house from top to bottom.  Your time might be better spent taking a walk in your favorite park and accomplishing just a couple loads of laundry.
  • Plan your time.  Consider taking a class, or joining a group activity.  Set up a lunch date with a friend and commit yourself to attending the event
  • Use respite time to the maximum of its benefits.  Become educated in care giving and the services available.  Attend seminars that can help clarify types of respite options in your community.
  • Begin using respite services early in your care giving career.  It is best not to wait until you are at the end of your patience and completely burnt out.  Respite programs are more successful when they are begun early in the care giving career
  •  Use respite regularly at scheduled times.  Plan to use the respite program on a regular basis so you can become used to knowing when you will have time off.  This will make it easier to plan a better use of your respite time.
  • Use respite in sufficient amounts that allow you to accomplish your goals.  Consider this like medication and its dosage. Take what you need to feel better.   If you need several full days to accomplish your goal, a respite program that is half day once a week will be frustrating. Instead think about using Adult Day Care services or Companion Services that can provide large blocks of time with more flexibility.
  • Use respite with other services such as emotional and social support, transportation, nutrition, and other caregiver services.  Contact your local senior services to find out what is available in your community.  Here are some local agencies that can offer guidance.
    • Helpful Websites



FREE Caregiver Seminar: Respite Options for Caregivers

Saturday, March 12
AGE Building: 3710 Cedar Street, Austin, 78705

For more information or to pre-register, please call Bruce Kravitz at (512) 451-4611 or

Join us to hear a panel of experts discuss options for respite care including
in-home care, faith based respite programs, adult day programs, and short
term residential facilities.

For more information on the programs of AGE,
visit us online at or call 512-451-4611.

This event is generously sponsored by:
Assisted Living Source 1-888-213-2731

Respite is available on-site at Elderhaven by reservation only. To RSVP for respite, contact Katy Bigge at (512) 458-6305 by March 9 .
Elderhaven is an Adult Day Center that provides care daily (M-F) for the elderly with nurse oversight in Travis and Williamson Counties. Call 458-6305 for more information.

This seminar is part of an on-going FREE educational series presented by AGE.
Save The Date:
April 13, 2011
May 14, 2011
July 9, 2011
Sept. 10, 2011