Ah, the good old days. Our state is rooted in a deep history of prideful folks that have shaped the landscape of the Texas we know today. Family values prevailed, mobile phones did not exist, and the word “internet” definitely was not in our everyday vocabularies – what a time to be alive! Although rummaging through fond memories of simpler times is a great nostalgic experience, living in the moment for the now-elderly residents of Texas can prove to be a lot more difficult than one would expect. Hardships including lack of mobility, the need for a caretaker, and restricted income all contribute to issues related to aging. Fortunately, there are programs out there that strive to remedy these problems, including Area Agency on Aging of Tarrant County, a nonprofit designed to help older adults, people with disabilities, and their caregivers.
When it comes to evaluating the issue of the aging population in Tarrant County, it is important to understand the numbers to put things into perspective. 37% of adults that are age 65 and over struggle to make ends meet due to a rise in housing costs and an increase in the number of senior households. This means that over 47,600 elderly households in Tarrant County are unable to financially meet their basic needs, including healthcare, housing, transportation, and food. In fact, the number of homeless seniors has increased over the last ten years, which can be attributed to the growing poverty rates and declining availability of affordable housing.
Based on the input of interview participants for United Way’s 2018-2019 Community Assessment, a big concern for seniors is the lack of affordable senior care living facilities in Tarrant County. They also noted that there was a critical need for memory care facilities in the area. Area Agency on Aging of Tarrant County evaluates these factors to get a better idea of the steps that need to be taken to combat age-related issues.
What We Do
As a proud member of the Area Agency on Aging in Texas network, United Way of Tarrant County is dedicated to improving the quality of life and empowering people to live and prosper independently. We do this by creating innovative, top-notch services, advocating for individuals and families and connecting them to resources that encourage healthy living, and establishing and maintaining support for our communities.
We offer free advice via our Aging and Disability Resource Center that deals with the following:
- Understanding the behavioral and emotional components of aging.
- Helping caregivers with their needs.
- Teaching you about eligibility requirements for medical benefits.
- Navigating the system.
- General information and referrals.
- Eating meals at senior centers or delivering meals to homes.
- Understanding resident rights in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
- Maintaining good health.
We also have several additional programs that were developed to dive a little deeper into the ins and outs of aging. These programs include benefits counseling, caregiver/respite care, and evidence-based programs.
Benefits counseling is meant to assist older adults and their caregivers in navigating through any decisions they must make regarding health care and long-term care options. The caregiver/respite care program is meant to help caregivers manage the demanding nature of their daily activities through things like coping skills and long-term care planning. Evidence-based programs (EBPs) are meant to offer research-proven ways to prevent disease among the elderly and to encourage healthy habits. Some examples of EBPs that we offer include an eight-week fall prevention class and a medication safety program.
United Way of Tarrant County also offers an Ombudsman Program, which provides nursing home residents with an ombudsman to advocate for their quality of life and care. An ombudsman will do everything from visiting the resident to protecting the resident’s rights. The goal of any member of the Area Agency on Aging in Texas network, including the ombudsmen, is to ensure that older adults are safe and fulfilled.
What You Can Do
If you want to help the seniors or disabled people of Tarrant County, consider volunteering.
It should be noted that United Way is currently only accepting corporate group volunteers at this time. Another route you can take would be to volunteer with one of our partner foundations. Sixty and Better is a longstanding partner of ours and aims to empower older adults through social activities, wellness education, and weekday meals to combat isolation and hunger. If you are looking to contribute as an individual, donating is always an option as well. Remember, no amount is too small! Every bit counts when it comes to making a difference in your community.
The good old days certainly were just that: good. As a nonprofit that has seen the statistics and the faces associated with the struggles of aging, we get it. United Way of Tarrant County strives to make the lives of seniors and their caretakers more fulfilled and manageable through several of our senior-related programs and resources. The Area Agency on Aging in Texas network is something we are very pleased to be a member of, and we do our absolute best to work towards the goal of empowering older adults. However, our resources are limited, which is why we need your assistance. Whether you choose to donate, volunteer with us, or volunteer with one of our partners, know that your actions are giving seniors the ability to lead a dignified life with purpose.