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Central Texans Worry A Lack Of Affordable Housing Will Push Older Adults Out, Survey Finds

Courtesy Blanton Museum of Art
Austinites visit the Blanton Museum as part of AGE of Central Texas' Memory Connections program.

Central Texas residents say they are concerned about affordable housing and finances for older adults and caregivers, a new survey on attitudes toward aging finds.

Almost three-quarters of residents surveyed by AGE of Central Texas said they believe older adults will be displaced due to a lack of affordable housing. Half the respondents also said they are worried about running out of money.

Annette Juba, deputy of director of AGE, said the survey results were on par with concerns across the country, but the nonprofit was surprised transportation was not listed as a main concern for many respondents here. 

“One of the things that we feel that we hear a lot when people call our information center is how to get to programs and how to stay active and involved,” she said. “That reinforces that we need to be where people are so that they can best access services." 

Seven out of 10 residents said they were not aware the Austin-Round Rock metro area is home to the fastest growing population of adults between the ages of 55-64 and the second fastest growing population for adults 65 and older. Nine out of every 10 respondents were also unaware of the costs associated with caring for older adults.

Juba said many people often view aging negatively, which causes them to avoid serious conversations about preparation and aging "successfully." 

More than 40% of Central Texas residents expect to be or are currently caregivers, but they know little about resources or organizations that address aging concerns. Almost half had concerns about stress levels, as well as depression. 

“There are a lot of people here that are needing a community in which they can be vital and productive and feel like a vital member," Juba said, "so we need to work to do that." 

AGE runs Thrive Social and Wellness Centers, which provide daytime care for older adults with physical needs and mental loss. Juba said AGE is working to provide more resources for older adults.

“[These programs] are a great, affordable solution for people who want to stay in their homes as long as possible,” she said. “It’s much less expensive than in-home care … nursing homes … or assisted living.” 

Survey respondents said as they age, they want to preserve healthy diets, get regular doctor visits, maintain healthy relationships and pursue hobbies.

AGE’s Memory Connections program supports older adults with early dementia by engaging in recreational activities like visiting the Blanton Museum of Art. Ray Williams, Blanton's director of education and academic affairs, said the program allows family members and caregivers to bond with older adults. 

Williams also said he sees the museum as “an environment for sanctuary, for refreshment [and] for creativity” and is looking into developing a support program for caregivers, who "sometimes are unseen or in the shadows." 

DaLyah Jones is a former assistant producer for All Things Considered and evening host. She is also co-host of the Two & Fro podcast.
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