Each May, Older Americans Month and Older Texans Month recognize the contributions to our communities made by older adults, including those with developmental disabilities (DD). The occasions celebrate achievements and highlight challenges that older adults face in their lives.
Although these celebrations happen in May, we invite you to join us year-round in our commitment to improving the lives of older adults with DD, in Texas and nationwide, through strengthening supports and services while addressing barriers to community inclusion and independent living.
Older Americans Month
Created in 1963, Older Americans Month is led by the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL). The ACL theme for 2023 is “Aging Unbound,” which invites people to explore diverse aging experiences and discuss how communities can combat stereotypes.
In recognizing Older Americans Month, the ACL encourages flexible thinking about aging and how we all benefit when older adults remain engaged, independent, and included.
Older Texans Month
In our state, May is designated as Older Texans Month to honor and recognize older adults in our communities. Older Texans are one of the fastest-growing populations in Texas and are living longer than ever before. Projections show that older adults in Texas could represent 21.6 percent of the state’s population by 2040, which would be an increase from 16 percent of the population in 2019, according to the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities.
Recent trends show that Texas continues to be an attractive place for existing residents to retire and for older adults wanting to move from other places in the U.S. and around the world. Yet older Texans and their families often face challenges, including abuse, neglect, exploitation, chronic health conditions, economic disparity, and difficulties navigating benefits and services. These challenges make it vital to ensure older adults, including those with disabilities, have the services and supports they need to live the lives they want.
Read the Texas governor’s proclamation (PDF) of May as Older Texans Month.
TCDD Recognition & Projects
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has recognized TCDD as a recipient of the 2022 Innovators in Aging award, which honors organizations and people who have made positive impacts in the lives of older adults in Texas.
TCDD was recognized in the award’s “Be Informed” category for its partnership with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service which established a regional coordinator initiative to help people with disabilities and others around Texas have access to region-specific information, resources, and events. To learn more about our partnership, visit Connect With Your Regional Coordinator.
Along with the regional coordinator initiative, TCDD funds grant projects that are developing new and innovative programs for older adults with DD, their families, and their caregivers:
- The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) is spearheading a project in the San Antonio area to holistically address the health and well-being of older adults with DD and their caregivers. The project provides classes and other educational resources to meet wide-ranging nutrition, fitness, and wellness needs.
- AACOG was also recently awarded TCDD funding for a new project to develop educational resources to support people with DD to fully participate in the care of parents or family caregivers who are aging.
- The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston is developing a statewide network of virtual health centers and Medicaid health homes that will be supported by telehealth. This project addresses barriers to health care for older adults with DD and their caregivers, including limited access to medical professionals who are trained to diagnose and manage the geriatric health care needs of older adults with DD.
TCDD-funded projects make personal impacts in the lives of older Texans with DD and their families. For instance, one mother recently received support and information from AACOG’s project team to connect her older son with disabilities to local community resources. The mother was able to find respite services, family support, and the tools and financial knowledge needed to prepare a will and help her son set up a trust and an ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) savings account.
In Texas, HHSC and its Area Agencies on Aging coordinate many services for older adults. Visit the HHSC website to find information on benefits, services, caregiving, and more. You can also check out HHSC’s Age Well Live Well campaign, which highlights the importance of aging well and promotes increased community preparedness.
AACOG used TCDD funding to create a Health Passport, a downloadable booklet that people with DD and their caregivers can use to compile important information that they may want to share with a doctor, service professional, or other support providers. The booklet has places for people to enter health information and preferences on language, communication, accommodations, support needs, and more. AACOG developed the Health Passport to help people seeking services and supports, including people who communicate without speaking. Visit AACOG’s website to download the Health Passport in English or Spanish.
Nationally, the ACL has an Older Americans Month website that includes information, materials, and activities to support the “Aging Unbound” theme and challenge limiting narratives and stereotypes on aging.