Family Eldercare was founded in 1982 by a group of professionals concerned with supporting the family's role as caregiver for frail elders through training and information. The agency soon expanded to include services to prevent abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of elders and adults with disabilities.
Guardianship Program Introduced
In 1986, Family Eldercare initiated the Guardianship Program to provide legal guardianship protections for incapacitated adults who are at risk of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Lawyers are recruited to handle all required legal filings and court work pro bono, so that Family Eldercare may establish and maintain guardianships. Trained volunteer guardian advocates monitor their client's care, arrange for appropriate social services, medical care and living arrangements; maintain contact with doctors, nurses, social workers and other care providers; and intervene on their behalf if care is inappropriate or neglect or abuse is suspected.
Money Management Program
Shortly thereafter, Family Eldercare launched the Bill Payer Program to provide volunteer-supported money management services to low-income adults who are unable to manage their own finances. Bill payers assist clients with sorting mail, balancing checkbooks, writing checks for the client to sign, and making sure bills are paid and mailed in a timely manner. Representative payees provide budget set-up, payment of monthly bills and checkbook balancing for individuals determined to be incapable of handling their own finances. These services offer the least restrictive form of assistance to vulnerable adults, preserving their rights and providing the necessary safeguards for independent living. Care/Case Managers provide services when volunteers are unavailable.
Consultation and Referral Services Started
In 1988, Family Eldercare began contracting with Work/Family Directions to provide consultation, care planning and referral services to corporate employee caregivers in Central Texas. Family Eldercare expanded these services in 1997 to the Travis County community through the Consultation and Service Coordination Program to help elders and their caregivers develop care strategies, navigate complex service delivery systems, and access services to support aging in place. Services are provided over the phone, through office and home visits, and from satellite offices at three affordable senior apartment communities in the Austin area, including Family Eldercare's Lyons Gardens Senior Community.
Summer Fan Drive Started
In 1990, Family Eldercare launched the annual Summer Fan Drive to help prevent heat stroke, other heat-related afflictions and death among frail, low-income elders living without fans or air-conditioners in their homes. Distribution has grown from 50 fans to frail elders in Austin in 1990 to more than 9,000 fans and 100 A/C units to low-income older adults, people with disabilities and families with children in 11 Central Texas counties in 2008. Family Eldercare carries out the Summer Fan Drive in collaboration with local media, businesses and other social service providers and in partnership with 42 community distribution sites and teams of volunteers.
In-Home Care and Respite Services Started
In 1995, Family Eldercare acquired the In-Home Care & Respite Services Program from Seniors' Respite Service, a local nonprofit that had operated the service in the Austin area since 1983. The program provides homemaker and personal attendant services on a sliding fee scale to elders, adults with disabilities and their caregivers. Family Eldercare is a licensed personal assistant services provider under the Texas Department of Human Services. Since acquiring the program, Family Eldercare increased the number of in-home care hours provided to clients/caregivers by tenfold to 82,000 annually. Family Eldercare is currently listed in the Austin Business Journal as the third-largest provider of homemaker and personal attendant care services in Austin.
Elder Shelter Started
Family Eldercare opened the Elder Shelter in 1997 in collaboration with a local housing developer to provide temporary housing and case management for low-income elders to allow them to leave an abusive or unsafe living situation or to avoid homelessness. Austin's only subsidized emergency shelter for the elderly, the Elder Shelter is comprised of two fully furnished two-bedroom, two-bathroom, wheelchair-accessible apartments. Family Eldercare recently expanded our temporary subsidized housing program to include 17 additional apartment units for low-income seniors in crisis.
Low-Income Senior Housing Initiated
In late 2001, Family Eldercare launched a $5.6 million capital campaign to build and operate Lyons Gardens Senior Community, a 54-unit supportive housing development for low-income seniors in East Austin. Opened in October 2004 at capacity and with a long waiting list, Lyons Gardens has been recognized as an affordable senior housing model at the national, state and local levels. Family Eldercare provides on-site service coordination and case management to ensure residents are linked to support services they need to age in place. A volunteer and activities program is also being developed to provide residents with a range of activities to combat social isolation and promote healthy aging.
In early 2006, Family Eldercare reorganized the Bill Payer, In-Home Care and Respite Services, Eldercare Consultation and Service Coordination, Elder Shelter, and Lyons Gardens Senior Community programs under the umbrella of Housing and Community Services to facilitate coordination and integration of case management into all community-based programs. This assures that each client is thoroughly assessed and provided with seamless access to all available support services and resources to ensure their health, housing and basic needs are met and monitored to promote aging in place.
Continuing to Meet Evolving Community Needs
Family Eldercare's core programs address multiple needs identified in a July 2005 survey of elderly Travis County residents conducted by the Aging Services Council. This survey found that while most (89%) older adults live in their own homes, many need access to essential services and support to help them continue to live independently. Fourteen percent of survey respondents reported needing help with grocery shopping due to a health or physical problem, 12% said they needed help managing their health care or navigating the system, 12% said they needed help managing their own finances, and 9% felt they needed protection from identity theft or other scams. One in four elders said that loneliness is a problem for them.
Never before in our history have we faced a demographic shift of such magnitude. The graying of America has been happening quietly over the past seven years and will continue over the next generation, during which time the elderly will outnumber the younger population by 2 to 1. Women, minorities and the oldest old groups with historically the highest poverty rates comprise the largest and fastest growing elderly population segments. During the 1990's, the Austin Metropolitan Area ranked third nationwide in the growth rate of its elderly population. Between 2000 and 2005, the Austin-San Marcos MSA's elderly population experienced more growth (20.6%) than any other MSA in Texas.
Over the next decade, all ten counties in the Central Texas region will experience an increase in the number of people ages 65 and older. The most dramatic growth in the region will take place in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties, where the total number of older adults is expected to increase by 72,883, from 98,807 today to 171,690 in 2015. Accompanying this elder boom is a growing shift from institutional to community care. The number of older adults in Travis County needing assistance with daily activities will increase by 42% from 14,850 today to 21,139 in 2015. Family caregivers provide 80% of the care for people needing assistance with daily activities. One in five Travis County households is currently caring for elderly relatives.
Family Eldercare anticipates needing to triple our staff and numbers of clients served within the next ten years in order to meet the oncoming elder boom.