How to help seniors and the aging in Austin, Central Texas

family eldercare summer fan drive 2019

Losing their homes. Running out of money. And not have anyone – or any organization – to help.

These are the biggest concerns Central Texans have about aging, according to the recent study by AGE of Central Texas. The study surveyed 400 Central Texans aged 18 and older about their knowledge and attitudes about aging in, and the results were published last week.

Results from the study shed light on a number of implications for residents in Central Texas, including awareness of the fast-changing population, biggest concerns about their own experience as they age, perspectives on ageism, and respondents’ own potential propensity to be future caregivers to older adults.

According to the study, 7 out of 10 people don’t know, for example, how quickly the population of seniors is growing. For the entire Capital Area, the growth rate of the over 60 age group is expected to be 95.5% from 2015 to 2030 as compared to a total growth rate of approximately 50%. Also, 41% of them said they were either already a caregiver or would become one in their lifetime.

With the population and the need growing so rapidly, it’s most striking to hear that 55% of respondents said they did not know a single organization that addresses the concerns of the aging community. Not a single one. But the fact is, there are a number of nonprofits that serve seniors, and most of them need volunteers to make their missions work.

PHOTO: Family Eldercare's Summer Fan Drive runs May 1 - August 1 and aims to help 12,000 Central Texans keep cool. 

Here’s a list of Central Texas nonprofits that serve area seniors, most of them seeking volunteer help. Visit them for more information about how you can learn how to improve the lives of seniors in your area.

Meals on Wheels Central Texas serves more than 3,000 meals in one weekday with 93% of those meals served by volunteers. But it also enlists volunteers to provide other services to seniors like home repair, pet care, in-home healthcare, and more. This is a powerful volunteer experience, too, in that it gives you direct interaction with the people you’re helping. For a top-notch volunteer activity, you can’t do better than Meals on Wheels. Learn more about volunteering with Meals on Wheels.

Drive a Senior/Faith in Action, Georgetown/Senior Access, Round Rock are very similar in mission in that they all focus on the mobility of seniors. Volunteers, therefore, are basically like Uber drivers for seniors, except that the rides are free and you might have to get out of the car to help them. Plus you might have to take on some basic handyman work around their house. There are several Drive a Senior locations in Central Texas, so choose the one most convenient for you. Faith in Action and Senior Access offer other ways to volunteer besides driving, so use the links above to check them out.

AGE of Central Texas supports seniors with services from adult day care, computer classes, memory loss support, and health equipment to education and resources for caregiver. It offers volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups who want to either support the organization, support a single or group of seniors, or both. Learn more about volunteering with AGE.

Family Eldercare may be best known for its annual Summer Fan Drive, which runs May 1- August 1 and benefits seniors and people with disabilities by providing them with fans to fight the heat. Family Eldercare also provides support services like money management, counseling, and guardianship services, and it operates a 54-unit affordable housing complex for seniors. They’re looking for volunteers who can support the Fan Drive, but also provide support, like for its money management program. Our favorite: Being a “Lifetime Connections” volunteer who signs up to have regular phone calls with senior clients to give them companionship and support. Learn more about volunteering with Family Eldercare.

Area Agency on Aging Capital Area is part of the Capital Area Council of Governments, and both assesses the need for care in the 10-county area is serves and provides the care. AAACAP directly provides older adults and their caregivers through its access and assistance program, benefits counseling, long-term care and assisted living facilities ombudsman services, care coordination and information, referral and assistance services. If you live outside of Austin, look for services and volunteer opportunities provided by AAACAP.

House of Friends is a joint program of several Northwest Austin churches that provides respite care for caregivers of people with dementia. You can train and volunteer to run programs and/or support a caregiver one-on-one. Caregivers can burnout if they’re unrested and isolated, so the service volunteers provide not only supports the caregiver but also the person they care for. Learn how to volunteer with House of Friends.

You can also learn about the area’s plan for addressing an aging population at the Area Agency on Aging as well as see a list of agencies serving seniors at the Aging Services Council of Austin.

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