Everyone knows that Austin has long been one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. What most people don’t know is that while our overall population grew nearly 40% between 2000 and 2010, the number of us over the age of 55 grew by 80%. Today, the Austin area has the nation’s #1 fastest-growing population of people between 55 and 64, and the 2nd fastest-growing population of people 65 and over.
Already about 30% of our area residents are over age 55. Soon, we will have more older adults than children in Central Texas. Yet policy priorities, funding, and opportunities for older adults are all but invisible.
That’s our reason for being. AustinUP is a community alliance committed to making Central Texas a place where older adults can live full, engaged lives.
We are a membership organization working with businesses, non-profit organizations, and the public sector to:
- advocate for policy that supports Austinites at every age
- engage older adults in community life through social and educational programming
- coordinate across sectors to address big issues for older adults and their families
We work to prioritize the unmet needs of the Central Texas aging population, tap the talents of older adults to improve our community, and embrace innovation and creativity in the pursuit of not just an age-friendly culture, but age-progressive. We have outlined below a few projects and goals under our three main focus areas: Learning, Livability and Aging Innovation.
- Expand learning opportunities for seniors, e.g., build curriculum to reconnect those 55+ to community issues
- Train a new generation of thought leaders to explore and “normalize” innovative ideas about aging
- Promote and help facilitate academic research to study aging processes and outcomes
- Work with our community partners to implement the Age-friendly Austin Plan
- Guide neighborhood efforts to enhance livability for seniors, using the Eight Domains of Livability as a roadmap
- Raise awareness to attract and encourage business involvement
- Attract and promote businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators working in the aging space
- Expand support infrastructure to help bring new ideas to market…faster
Our partners include Leadership Austin, the City of Austin Commission on Seniors, AARP Texas, the local chapter of Aging2.0, as well as a growing network of businesses and service organizations. For example, in 2016 the LGBT Coalition on Aging was formed as an outgrowth of an AustinUP group discussion on how to help ensure an LGBT voice in the Age-friendly Austin Plan. The consensus of that discussion was that there were unmet challenges related to LGBT aging that required an organized community effort. The LGBT Coalition on Aging is now actively recruiting members that represent the broader LGBT community.
AustinUP formed in response to the dramatically shifting demographics of Central Texas.
In response to Austin’s increasing age diversity, former Mayor Lee Leffingwell convened a Task Force on Aging in 2012-13. He charged the group with developing strategic recommendations to ensure our aging neighbors have the resources to be healthy, independent and integrated into community life.
The Task Force was comprised of a diverse group of leaders from non-profit organizations, funding entities, business, and academia. The St. David’s Foundation and Seton Foundation provided leadership and support.
Additionally, 15 graduate students from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas conducted research to support the Task Force’s efforts. Students met with area experts, studied national best practices, and engaged approximately 500 local seniors through a multi-topic survey.
The result of the Task Force efforts includes a Report and a set of Recommendations that focus resources on ensuring adequate supports are in place to help each of us continue to contribute to our community while we age with dignity.
The Task Force recommended two new vehicles to ensure our community successfully serves and benefits from the aging of our population over time: a new City of Austin Commission on Seniors, and a new independent nonprofit group to convene, advocate, and coordinate across the community. Thus, AustinUP.
We work to prioritize the unmet needs of the Central Texas aging population, tap the assets of older adults to improve our community, and embrace innovation and creativity in the pursuit of an age-friendly culture.
AustinUP is a participation-driven organization whose ongoing focus and activities are determined by its allied members, beginning with older adults and their families, and extending to local government, non-profit groups, business partners, and the community at large.
Teresa Sansone Ferguson
Board of Directors
Mark Carlson, M.D. (Chair, 2017)
Geriatrician and Founder/Director of Be Well MD
President, Austin Prime Timers and Co-Chair, LGBT Coalition on Aging
Law Firm of Marilyn Poole Attorney at Law PLLC
Project Manager, Virtual Care & Innovation, Ascension Health