Senator Lucio's Letterhead

CAPITOL UPDATE FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 12, 2007
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez , Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385

South Texans Offer Young-At-Heart Exemplary Loving Care

Telling the Story of Caring is the theme for this year's National Adult Day Services Week, celebrated September 16-22.

Thanks to the work of professionals, para-professionals and volunteers, South Texans in their twilight years can live more independent, happier and even healthier lives from this excellent care. For the taxpayer, this means cost-savings since less nursing home care is required. For family caregivers, it can be a life and job saver.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) reports that women, 36 to 65, are the majority of Texas caregivers, and that in spite of heavy responsibilities, nearly 75 percent of caregivers attempt to maintain fulltime employment. Also, American businesses lose between $11 billion and $29 billion each year due to employees' need to care for loved ones. So adult day care and similar programs are invaluable.

And for us baby boomers, the effective care means that South Texas stands poised to give us this same, top-notch assistance when we reach that pinnacle.

South Texas can boast of 200 adult day care centers that contract with DADS to offer programs to countless seniors. It is known that the Rio Grande Valley has the largest number of adult day care centers in the state. That was certainly made evident recently.

I was invited to honor senior citizens at one of the liveliest parties I've seen in a while, with lots of music and dancing. It was attended by a whopping 1,000 young-at-heart locals. Believe me, having to stop at times to catch my baby boomer breath to keep up with these folks, including those using walkers, demonstrated that caring works, maybe too well!

Seriously, without these adult day services, the alternative for many would be to sit at home lonely, bored and inactive both mentally and physically. Instead, our grandparents, uncles and aunts, neighbors and friends, are offered structured, comprehensive programs that provide health, social and other care, usually during any part of a day, but for fewer than 24 hours.

The providers and employers of adult services tell the story of caring in their everyday work. They treat seniors as if they were a part of their own families. This is the reason for the success of these programs, which will continue to be the blueprint for us baby boomers and those even younger.

Also offered is the National Senior Companion Program, which recruits older volunteers to provide in-home support to family caregivers of seniors who cannot afford nursing homes. They assist with meal preparations, housekeeping, monitoring medications, running errands and transportation to and from doctor visits.

"Without Senior Companions, many family caregivers would be forced to quit their jobs," explains Mr. Jose Perez, CEO, Senior Community Outreach Services, Inc. "I think the Senior Companion Program is the most compassionate, cost-effective service ever put out by government that provides in-home support enabling seniors to remain at home and not in expensive nursing homes."

Amigos Del Valle is another successful program in which the spirit of caring is alive and well. This consortium of county and city governmental entities provides nutrition, transportation and housing services to the senior citizens of Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties. Since 1975, thousands have used these services to maintain their health and to live their lives with dignity.

The agency consists of an established network of employees and more than 500 volunteers, providing assistance through 32 senior centers, nine senior multifamily rental housing projects and a central kitchen facility. That's a lot of volunteers and responsible staff caring for the needs of our older and wiser residents.

The story of caring can also be told of our active senior citizen centers. The Lower Rio Grande Valley Area Agency on Aging sponsors 30 senior centers that serve approximately 2,300 individuals, ages 60 and over.

Forty senior centers in the Coastal Bend Area, which includes Kenedy and Kleberg counties-both in my Senatorial District 27-regularly schedule activities for people who are 60 and over that center on their health and well-being.

Coincidentally, on September 7, 2007, the U.S. Senate proclaimed September 9-15 National Assisted Living Week. This year's theme is Legacies of Love, which highlights the privilege, value and responsibility of passing the legacies of our elders' lives down through the generations.

Now is the time to remind our youngsters of the contributions, sacrifices and leadership our seniors have offered. Not only should we pass down the legacies of our elders' lives, but we must also pass down South Texas' unsurpassed legacy of caring for our seniors.

As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doris Sanchez, my press secretary, 512-463-0385.

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