Aging Texans and Public Policies

The head of the United Way of Texas says Texas is getting older and "grayer" every year, but Texas policy makers need to be working harder than they are to meet the needs of its senior population. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Texas already has millions of retired seniors, but the first wave of baby boomers turns 65 in 2011, and United Way of Texas President Karen Johnson says that's going to have huge impact on the state's ability to deliver services to all its people.

"And I don't think that the state of Texas is looking closely enough at what is going to hit us. There's just enough push, or knowledge in the legislature of what it takes to take care of this age group."

Johnson says the aging population is creating a long list of problems lawmakers must solve, starting with nursing homes.

"We don't have enough nursing homes, and people today, at least while they're active, say they don't want to go to a nursing home. So what are those alternatives? How do we make our homes accessible? How do we live in our homes? How do we get transportation? Texas is woefully inadequate in public transportation."

Just some of the problems Johnson and experts with the Houston Gerontological Society will toss around at a public panel discussion tonight at the United Way of Houston on Waugh Drive. There's more information in a link on our website KUHF dot org. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.