Americans are living longer than ever before. A study by the National Institute on Aging found that people are living longer, in less poverty and often experience lower rates of disability than previously recorded. Life expectancy nearly doubled during the 20th century with a 10-fold increase in the number of Americans age 65 or older. Today, there are approximately 35 million Americans age 65 or older, and this number is expected to double in the next 25 years.
The aging of Texas’ population is one of the most important demographic trends affecting our state. Over the next twenty years, the 65 and older population is projected to grow 184 percent. The “boom” of the older adult population, coupled with long life expectancy, means that Texans of all ages need to engage in regular healthy habits now, to ensure their future is healthy.
A person’s ability to “age well” is heavily influenced by their engagement in healthy habits, awareness of aging issues and available resources, and by staying socially engaged and connected with others.
To help Texans prepare in these key areas, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) developed the Age Well Live Well program. Through regional Age Well Live Well collaboratives, DADS and local organizations work together to provide Texans with information and programs to help meet the challenges of aging.
Age Well Live Well focuses on:
- Improving the physical health of older adults, people with disabilities, their families, and the community;
- Providing opportunities for residents to stay engaged in the community through volunteer activities; and
- Creating awareness of aging issues and resources offered through Age Well Live Well collaboratives and the aging and disability network.
Age Well Live Well collaboratives provide their residents with information about the programs and resources to help them live and age well. These collaboratives also work to develop locally supported Age Well Live Well programs that are free or low cost for the participants. Some of these programs and resources include:
- Texercise, a health promotions program of DADS, that educates people about the importance of adopting healthy habits and motivates them to engage in healthy behaviors. www.Texercise.com
- You’ll be Amazed, a volunteer campaign of DADS, that educates Texans about the value volunteers provide for the aging and disability population and access to volunteer opportunities. www.dads.state.tx.us/volunteer/volunteering/index.html
- DADS Resource Sheet provides contact information on some of the most popular federal and state programs for older adults and people with disabilities. www.dads.state.tx.us/volunteer/partners/resourcesheet.pdf
So now what? Regardless of your age, begin implementing Age Well Live Well elements into your life to ensure you live a long, happy, healthy one!
- Eat healthy, and engage in regular physical activity – Texercise can help.
- Volunteer with something that has meaning to you. You WILL be amazed at the benefits!
- Learn about the programs and services available to you and older adults – there will come a time when this information will be helpful to you and a loved one.
To find out about your local Age Well Live Well collaborative and the available programs, contact Beverly Brownlow with the Harris County Area Agency on Aging at: Beverly.Brownlow@houstontx.gov.
For more information about Age Well Live Well, or to find out how to make your community an Age Well Live Well collaborative, go to: www.dads.state.tx.us/volunteer/agewell/index.html#become.
BY Holly Riley
Age Well Live Well Program Coordinator
TX Department of Aging and Disability Services