Elder Care

The senior population is growing and the needs that have to be met are changing. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports area organizations have come together to help meet the need.

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One of United Way's goals is sustaining senior indepedence. Community Impact Vice President Linda O'Black says it's a fast growing population.

"Between 1996 and 2020 we will double the number of people over 65 and we know in our area about one in four households are caring for an elder adult and one in four seniors needs assistance with daily living."

Groups involved with seniors are constantly looking to see what the new needs are for the community. O'Black says independence and quality care are just two concerns.

"As people are living longer, more people are healthier longer, but at some point more services are needed so we see an increased need, for example, for home delivered meals. That's a big area. Increased need for transportation and even people to accompany a senior when they go to the doctor to assist them in that area.... If they don't have family members in this area there is an increased need for homemakers, people to go to the home and help with chores."

The organizations are putting forth initiatives to help ... one being the access network. Care for Elders was formed in 2001 bringing together a network of about 85 groups. Project Director Jane Bavineau is also Vice President at Sheltering Arms Senior Serivces.

"For example an individual call 211 and get connected to a specialist in various aspects of elder care services, so they could get the same types of help that employers are realizing they need to provide to their caregivers, in terms of consultation about what their challenges are, what their issues might be, what kind of resources are out there to address the specific issue that they have."

Another effort is a program called "Take Charge" which encourages baby boomers and others to plan ahead. Bavineau says people tend not to plan for the later senior years.

"Often times yes, we get to a point of crisis and that's what starts getting everyone kind of engaged in the process... by then when you are dealing in a crisis is not particularly the best time to make decisions about what you want and to be exploring all of the options that you have."

More information can be found at KUHF-dot-org. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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