Campaign Launched to Help Older Houstonians Remain Active

May is Older Americans Month and Houston’s senior citizens are the focus of an ambitious campaign to ensure they enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle. Pat Hernandez has the story.

Care for Elders, Houston’s largest and most experienced partnership
focused solely on issues involving seniors, joined Mayor Bill White, the
Department of Health and Human Services and other supporting organizations to
announce the GET READY FOR LIFE campaign. Executive Director Jane
Bavineau, says the aging agenda is a document for policy makers, and
an upcoming Senior Expo is billed as a major celebration for older adults.
She says GET READY FOR LIFE is a personal planning tool for aging well.

“It provides a resource through a website and through educational materials that
help people think through these various issues and give them very concrete tools
for them to use as they assess again their health, their finances, their happiness and their
overall well being.”

Stephen Williams, director of the city’s Department of Health and Human Services,
says they’re using the occasion to enhance service and support for seniors
in the community.

“We’re talking about a more integrated approach to programming. We’re also seeing
ourselves as a catalyst or facilitator to bring other folks together to support these efforts.
We’ve always housed the area agency on aging so, we’re integrating what we do in the
rest of the department to support their efforts.”

In a little over 30 years, the number of older adults in Harris County is
expected to triple. The Houston-Harris County Aging Agenda is to guide
community leaders like Mayor Bill White in the creation and expansion of
services for seniors.

“We’ll be seeing a tripling of the number of people within our community that are over
65 in the next twenty years, and the number of people over 85 is increasing at a faster
percentage rate than any other part of the population. So, we need to make sure that we
thought through housing, mobility, access to health care and an end to isolation which
many seniors experience.”

Bob Jackson with AARP says the aging agenda is the end of a long process,
but the work begins to implement and help make Houston a much more
aging-friendly community.

“We need more health care providers, we need more nurses, we’re going to need that.
The good news is, most people don’t ever really need those services. What’s great about
this agenda is that it’s looking at people across the spectrum: those that are not well and
those that are.”

Jane Bavineau says ready or not baby boomer are booming into retirement.

“And the truth about baby boomers is they have not either looked very far ahead of their face
and so, they too need to be thinking about down the road what they’re going to do to make sure
they can have the care they want, they can live where they want, they can pay for what they
want, and we want them to think about themselves too.”

Pat Hernandez. KUHF- Houston Public Radio News.