News

Read the latest AustinUPdate Newsletter (July 2019)

summer sunset photo

Director’s Report: As you may know, the U.S. Census in 2010 indicated that Austin had one of the fastest-growing populations of older adults in the country. That data point kicked into action a series of events, including the formation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Aging (2012), AustinUP (2014) and the City of Austin Commission on Seniors (2014).

summer sunset photo

Photo credit: Marcus Lange

If you are wondering whether that trend is projected to continue in the upcoming 2020 Census, wonder no more! The City of Austin hosted a recent event featuring Ryan Robinson, city demographer, in which he spoke about demographic trends and the political and social impact the 2020 Census might have on Central Texas. It was so informative! And, with respect to our older adult population, Ryan reported that indeed, the City of Austin can now be considered a “retirement destination.”  View the recording of Ryan Robinson’s presentation and download his slides here.

That said – the heat is on, my friends. We have company coming! We need to prepare, and there’s much work to be done!
Click to read the entire newsletter.

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AustinUP Joins the Encore Network

encore network member logo

We’re excited to report that AustinUP has joined the Encore Network, which is part of Encore.org, an organization that “innovates new ideas and models to leverage the skills and talents of experienced adults to improve communities and the Encore Network logoworld.” The Encore Network is a coalition of organizations and individuals working together to transform longer lives into a force for good and create a better future for future generations. Network members share connections, proven practices and resources to support innovation, raise visibility and build a stronger encore movement. For more information, contact Network lead Betsy Werley, bwerley@encore.org.

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Livability for Longevity Symposium: 2019 Notes and Future Goals

With more than 150 attendees at the April 3 Livability for Longevity Symposium, the Bass Lecture Hall at the LBJ School of Public Affairs was close to capacity. Between opening remarks from Council Member Alison Alter (District 10) about Austin’s efforts to create an age-friendly community and a thoughtful symposium wrap-up from Jesús Garza, former CEO of Seton Healthcare – and input from the audience (that included Luci Baines Johnson) throughout – it felt like the right people had assembled to discuss important issues about aging. Livability for Longevity Symposium 2019 panel and audience

But the true stars of the show were Dr. Jacqueline Angel and her team of students from the LBJ School (Alex Abbott, Patricia Hart,Shadhi Mansoori, Gabriela Mordi,Emma Nye and Kathryn Quan) who walked us through the methodology for and results of their recent research in a presentation titled, “Building an Intergenerational Metropolis in the City of Austin.”

A panel discussion, “Policy and Planning for an Age-friendly Austin,” followed the students’ presentation with real-world insight about the opportunities and challenges of aging-related policy implementation. Guest panelists included Janee Briesemeister, Chair, City of Austin Commission on Seniors; Adam Hauser, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels Central Texas; Annette Juba, Deputy Director, AGE of Central Texas; and Larry Wallace, Enterprise Chief Administrative Officer, Central Health.

LBJ School team at the 2019 Livability for Longevity SymposiumReaction to the presentations was overwhelmingly positive, as reflected in these comments from the post-event survey:

  • “I liked the amazing presentation from Dr. Angel’s students and the subsequent Q & A. The attendees of the seminar represented a wide range of professionals and lay persons all working on different parts of the complex issues on aging.”
  • “I liked the variety of new information presented and a generation that’s willing to get on board and lead the way.”
  • “I appreciated knowing that we have partners who are working together to better life for the aging.”

During lunch (and in the post-event survey), audience members shared insight of their own about their current interests and the topics they’d like to see addressed in future symposiums:

  • Support for those “aging in place”
  • Ways to navigate end-of-life decisions and expenses
  • Innovative, but affordable, housing options
  • Employment after 50
  • The role of artificial intelligence as we age
  • Additional intergenerational concepts
  • Expanded transportation options
  • Caregiving
  • The need for affordable, accessible mental and dental services
  • How to advocate for aging-related programs and how to influence the Texas Legislature
  • Support for middle-income older adults
  • Ways to help “elder orphans” i.e., elders who have no family members to help them as they age

AustinUP extends huge thanks and appreciation to our co-hosts (LBJ School of Public Affairs, City of Austin Commission on Seniors), wonderful sponsors (Atria Senior Living, AARP Texas, St. David’s Foundation, Senior Resource Guide and Westminster) and exhibit partners (AGE of Central Texas, Capital City Village, Drive a Senior, Family Eldercare and Meals on Wheels Central Texas). YOU made this event possible!

View more photos from the 2019 Livability for Longevity Symposium, courtesy of photographer Callie Richmond and the LBJ School.

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SXSW 2019 Sparks Ideas

We’re happy to report that the aging / age-tech speakers and panels at SXSW 2019 did not disappoint, and the ideas presented gave us much to think about. One key takeaway that will guide AustinUP as we expand our efforts to make Austin age-progressive: Innovation without implementation is nothing. Let’s do this, Austin!

Here are a few additional SXSW panel notes and links to explore and share.

America’s Got Hidden Talent: Social Impact Hiring
Panelist Kerry Hannon, AARP’s work and job expert, talked about the importance of training and certification to help both younger people who can’t afford college, as well as older workers who need updated digital skills. Another suggestion: Employers could provide career coaches to help workers as they change roles at a company. A list of best practices for employers is featured on the AARP website.

How Midlife Women Work their Entrepreneurial Mojo
This panel was led by Jeannie Ralston, Central Texas-based founder, editor and adventurer-in-chief of NextTribe, a digital magazine for women aged 45+ that has the motto, “Age Boldly.” The panel suggested that older entrepreneurs have knowledge that can serve as a brand. A few additional words of advice: 1) hire your weakness; 2) nurture your network to find resources; 3) don’t dwell on those annoying, negative voices inside your head;  4) don’t burn bridges (keep the peace in your network); and 5) know your purpose. You can watch a video of the presentation here.

A Smart Aging Love Story for All Ages
This diverse panel of “internet of things” (IoT) and aging experts and consumers talked about smart aging lifestyles and options. They suggested that we look to Germany and other “super-aged” societies in the world for ideas to improve the lives of older adults. Examples include more and better promotion of public health services, expanded patient advocacy services provided by insurance companies, personal assistants (upwork.com and care.com) and smart speakers (Google Home, Alexa). Other age-friendly innovations on the rise: voice-tech (a good way for humans to interact with technology); portable medical equipment (e.g., handheld ultrasound devices) that can make elder care easier and cheaper; hologram doctor visits, clinical holoportation and Microsoft “hololens.”

Cities Harnessing the Longevity Dividend
By 2030, there will be more people over the age of 60 than under the age of 10. Cities are on the front lines of this shift and can realize the massive social and economic potential of older adults as they work to improve city services. This panel, that included San Antonio-based Henry Cisneros, discussed age-forward practices and strategies for cities.

slide from presentation

slide from presentation

The Digital Economy Isn’t Just for the Young
Chip Conley, mentor to Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO and founder and author of Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, offered words of workplace wisdom to a packed, multigen audience. He said, “With a variety of generations in the workplace, it’s time to perfect the ability to work together.” He stressed the importance of cross-generational “mutual mentorship,” age-diversity in the workplace, lifelong learning and maintaining our sense of curiosity as we age.

Additional ideas:

  • We gain emotional intelligence (otherwise known as “emotional quotient” or EQ) as we age, i.e., “the ability to understand, use and manage our emotions in positive ways.”
  • We need to own the word “elder” because most adults gather and gain wisdom as they age.
  • Being a “modern elder” is all about relevance not just reverence, i.e., knowing what’s important and what’s not.
  • The sharing economy also means sharing across generations.
  • How to be a modern elder:
    1. Right-size your ego
    2. Evolve (let go of what’s no longer relevant and be willing to say “this is a new era”)
    3. Be open to learning new things
    4. Collaborate
    5. Learn how to counsel (“Mentor privately; intern publicly.” Nobody wants a priest or parent in the workplace.)

More from Chip’s book and presentation:

  • Research shows that people in their 50s are actually happier than people in their 40s, demonstrating that there’s an incongruity between what we say about aging and the reality.
  • The old work/life model, “learn, earn and retire” is going away. Lifelong learning, career adaptation and senior internships are the wave of the future.
  • The term “middle-essence,” like adolescence, should be a thing. There is much research and discussion about human behavior during adolescence, but nothing to describe what happens in middle-life. It’s a time of transitions, menopause, career change, empty nest, etc., but there is little in society to help or address it. Women sometimes talk about it and share observations, but men often don’t. The consequences often are tragic, i.e., an increased suicide rate in the U.S.

To learn more, watch a conversation between Chip Conley and Brian Chesky, CEO and founder of Airbnb.

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KLRU / Decibel Focus on Aging in Austin

decibel klru logo

Decibel, KLRU’s news and public affairs initiative led by esteemed TV journalist Judy Maggio, covers a wide variety of stories that matter to Austinites. In February, Judy and the Decibel team focused on aging. They hosted a roundtable discussion, which included AustinUP Executive Director Teresa Sansone Ferguson. They also produced a series of aging-related stories and specials. You can see the individual stories, including interviews with Janee Briesemeister, Chair, Commission on Seniors, and Jean Anne Booth, CEO and Founder, UnaliWear, on Decibel’s Facebook page. Their half-hour special aired on KLRU TV during the last weekend in February. AustinUP was proud to be part of this coverage, along with some of our community partners. Please watch and share!

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AustinUP Welcomes New Board Members

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We’re excited to introduce our three newest AustinUP Board members:

John brown photoJohn Brown began his career in the pharmacy retail drugstore business. He spent 36 years with one company, and had the opportunity to learn and grow as the Austin area continued to expand. Today, John is owner and CEO of Oasis Senior Advisors Austin. John adds, “As a community leader and local volunteer, serving people has always been a passion. As a caregiver for my mother as she progresses through the later stages of dementia with added complex medical conditions, I’ve learned first-hand the challenges facing families during these difficult transitions. I’m also reminded of the responsibilities we have to honor and provide for our seniors, as I volunteer and work with local non-profit boards focused on the aging population. I have committed myself to helping seniors through transitions and their daily living needs, offering dignity and passion to do what’s best for them.”

Pat Calhoun photoPatricia Calhoun, CLIPP, IIDA, RID, ASID, is an Austin native with more than 30 years of experience in the furnishings industry, having worked as a residential and commercial interior designer in Chicago, Detroit, Austin and Dallas. She began her career in Interior Design with the opening of the Design Studio for Sears in Chicago, and became a member of The American Institute of Design (AID), now known as ASID, American Society of Interior Designers. She was elevated to senior interior designer for the J.L. Hudson Company in Detroit, and became a member of The Institute of Business Designers (IBD), now known as IIDA, International Interior Design Association. Patricia returned to Texas and worked at Louis Shanks of Austin as a senior interior designer. She also worked in Dallas as a manufacturer’s representative and interior designer for Library Furnishings. Patricia continues her work as a manufacturer’s representative for Exterior Furnishings in Austin. She volunteers for a nonprofit called The Children’s Haven Association and is also involved with the Living in Place Institute.

Eric Hungateis Eric Hungate photoa senior IT executive advisor and business development consultant helping organizations navigate their digital transformation from customer experience to enhanced productivity in operations. Eric spent 12 years as CIO for the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), positioning this multi-million-dollar nonprofit state-wide education association for high growth and improved service delivery. Prior to TASB, Eric served in management and consulting roles for more than 25 years with Ernst & Young, the Robert Mondavi Winery, Fireman’s Fund Insurance and Union Oil.  A leader in the Austin IT community, Eric was 2015-16 president of the Austin Society for Information Management (SIM) Chapter, voted Austin’s 2009 IT Executive of the Year and was a recipient of Computerworld’sPremier 100 IT Leaders for 2010.

Welcome, John, Patricia and Eric! AustinUP’s Board is now 14 members strong. Find out more about our Board here.

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Thank You, St. David’s Foundation!

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AustinUP extends huge thanks to St. David’s Foundation for their generous grant to support our work on behalf of the elders of tomorrow. 

In its goal to help Central Texans be the healthiest people they can be, St. David’s Foundation is putting a spotlight on healthy aging and aging in place with dignity. AustinUP’s efforts to make Austin age-friendly not only will assist vulnerable elders in our community, but also their caregivers, who often place themselves at greater health and financial risk in order to focus on the needs of their loved ones. AustinUP also will promote the benefits of intergenerational relationships and continued community engagement as we age – goals shared by St. David’s Foundation.

AustinUP is grateful for the support of St. David’s Foundation!

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Austin Making Strides on the Aging & Innovation Front

aging innovation summit sign

More than 130 people attended AustinUP’s 2018 ATX Aging & Innovation Summit, an information-packed program held November 28th at the Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Hotel. 

The goal this year was to provide a creative space so that people with different talents and perspectives on aging could come together to help put Austin on the map in the emerging field of aging/longevity innovation. Our panelists represented community need, research, business opportunity and investment. 

A few highlights from the panels and presentations:

  • Andrew Levack, Senior Program Officer, St. David’s Foundation (SDF), talked about a new SDF program called CAPABLE, which will combine the services of RNs, occupational therapists and handy persons to help support elders in their homes.
  • Sarah Ortiz Shields, Program Manager, Austin Tech Alliance, spoke about the Senior Shuffle, which brought together aging-related service providers and Austin-Travis County EMS to brainstorm ways to provide comprehensive services to seniors in Austin.
  • Debra Umberson, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Director of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, gave us a preview of UT’s Texas Aging & Longevity Center. Funded by 6 colleges/schools and the Vice President for Research, the Center’s official launch will be in January 2019. Their goal is to connect UT Austin with the city, state and national communities serving aging populations. Primary areas of expertise include aging in place/social isolation; technology and aging; health disparities; and Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.
  • Char Hu, Ph.D., CEO and Founder, The Helper Bees, and Leon Coe, Co-founder and COO, VoCo, shared their experience as startups in the aging space. 
  • José Colucci, Ph.D., Director for Research and Development, Design Institute for Health, spoke about the importance of intergenerational interaction for elders. One enlightening note that he shared was an unforeseen benefit of multigenerational living. He said that children and their parents go through difficult periods, often at the same time. The effects are actually mitigated by the presence of multiple generations.
  • Brandon Knicely, Co-founder, Third Drive, helped us envision an ATX Living Lab, combining services for elders, plus a technology incubator and coworking spaces.
  • Fred Lugo, Director, Coming of Age Austin and Steering Committee Member, Austin LGBT Coalition on Aging, talked about what these organizations do to combat social isolation and foster greater inclusion for older adults.
  • Debbie Hanna, President, Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease, shared a video outlining their grants to the “best and the brightest” (Dell Medical School, for example) for research of Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairment. Offering another perspective on the human brain, Jarrod Lewis-Peacock, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, LewPeaLab, The University of Texas at Austin, spoke about his research related to learning and memory.
  • Stephanie Hayden, Director, Austin Public Health, City of Austin, talked about the City’s age-friendly coordinator position and her vision for this new role. 
  • Henri Fontana, Technical Program Manager – Accessibility, Google, talked about how Google’s goal of accessibility across all of its products helps older adults.

Our afternoon Tech/Aging Startup Showcase included:

  • Clairvoyant Networks (solutions supporting Aging in Place, e.g., sensors, communication hardware, smart phone applications and cloud connectivity)
  • Iris Plans (technology to help families with advance care planning)
  • Guide Change (financial reporting and tracking for elders and their caregivers)
  • Remedy (medical house calls and on-demand video visits)

We also took part in a highly interactive “design thinking” strategy session over lunch, led by a team of IBM facilitators. The team shared with us a link that each of us could use to pursue our own skills certification in design thinking.

Needless to say, we learned a lot, shared a lot and were energized by the ideas and innovation happening right here in our community.

Huge thanks to our Summit steering committee:

  • José Colucci, Ph.D., Design Institute for Health
  • Diana Deaton, Aging 2.0 Austin
  • Char Hu, Ph.D., The Helper Bees
  • Susann Keohane, IBM (Chair)
  • Brandon Knicely, Third Drive
  • Jessica Lemann, AARP Texas
  • Shubhada Saxena, Aspire to Age
  • James Sulzer, Ph.D., UT School of Engineering
  • Kate Williams Carnevale, IBM

And a final note of thanks to our sponsors:

  • AARP Texas
  • St. David’s Foundation
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • AnyPlaceMD
  • Senior Resource Guide
  • Aging 2.0 Austin

We are grateful to volunteer Jim Turner for the photographs featured on this page.

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Ride Guide Offers Transportation Options

Many older Americans think that giving up the car keys means giving up independence. In the Austin metropolitan area, that does not have to be the case. The newly published Ride Guide will help you find the transportation option that best suits your needs or the needs of someone you know. The booklet includes common situations and suggestions for how older adults can remain mobile and actively involved in the community. Special thanks go to Ride Guide publishers, the Aging Services Council and the Central Texas Office of Mobility Management.

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City of Austin’s Age-friendly Action Plan is Officially Approved

The Austin City Council received a certificate of approval on Thursday, May 10, marking the official start to the implementation of the Austin Age-Friendly Action Plan. At the beginning of Thursday’s City Council meeting, community leaders recognized this achievement and presented City Council with a certificate from AARP and the World Health Organization.

This plan, designed to make Austin a livable community for people of all ages, was developed by the City of Austin Commission on Seniors, AARP, AustinUP, and other nonprofits working in coordination with the Austin City Council. Austin is the first city in Texas to receive approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) for its action plan.

The City of Austin is engaged in a collaborative effort across nine departments as well as the Commission on Seniors to turn the plan into reality. The City’s Departmental effort is led by interim Assistant City Manager, Sara Hensley, with leadership from Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden. Departments currently participating include: Austin Public Health, Austin Public Library, Parks and Recreation, the City Manager’s Office, Economic Development, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development, Public Works, Planning and Zoning, and Austin Transportation.

Additional news coverage:
Austin is First Texas City to Receive Green Light for Implementation of “Age-Friendly” Action Plan

Photos from the event (click on photos to see larger versions):


Photo credit: Jacqueline Angel, Teresa Ferguson

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