Watch the Age-friendly Austin News Conference


Austin City Council Adopts Age-friendly Austin Plan;
Promotes Age-friendly Presentation as Part of Imagine Austin Speaker Series

(Wednesday, November 16, 2016) – The Austin City Council, at its November 3 meeting, voted to adopt the Age-friendly Austin Plan and actively promote and work toward Austin becoming more age-friendly in support of our city’s current and future older adults.

A working group of community members created by Austin’s Commission on Seniors developed the Age-friendly Austin Plan. Sally Van Sickle, who represents District 9 on the Commission on Seniors, said, “Austin has always been considered a young, vibrant and innovative city. Approval of this Age-friendly Austin Plan will help us maintain that reputation as vibrant and innovative even as our median age moves upward.”

The working group reviewed existing systems to support Austin’s senior population and identified where there are gaps, both in relation to the Mayor’s Task Force on Aging (2012-13) recommendations and the AARP/World Health Organization’s Eight Domains of Livability, which include:

  1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
  2. Transportation
  3. Housing
  4. Social participation
  5. Respect and social inclusion
  6. Civic participation and employment
  7. Communication and information
  8. Community support and health services

“By adopting an Age-friendly Austin Action Plan, the City Council is helping Austin take an innovative step in an ongoing effort toward meeting the needs of Austinites of all ages,” said Jessica Lemann, associate state director of AARP Texas. “The plan will encourage active aging and help to enhance the older adults’ quality of life in Central Texas.” Read more ›

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Austin Adopts Plan To Be More Age-Friendly

We are proud and excited to share KUT’s news coverage of the November 3rd vote re: the Age-friendly Austin Plan. Special thanks to Councilmembers Kitchen, Poole, and Casar, Mayor Pro Tem Tovo and Mayor Adler for their support.

Excerpt from KUT’s article, Austin Adopts Plan To Be More “Age-Friendly”:
…The plan recommends improvements in eight specific areas including employment opportunity, health services and continuing education. Kitchen said many of these senior-friendly policies fit with those already identified in Imagine Austin, a comprehensive plan for the city’s future. That includes things like developing parks and farmer’s markets that are more accessible, providing more affordable housing, and – a big one – improving Austin’s transportation system.

“So, in transportation, that’s a matter of thinking about how we do sidewalks and street lighting, simple things like removing vegetation on sidewalks so it’s easier to walk, covered seating at bus stops, pedestrian-friendly crossings – things like that,” she said.

Recommendations in plan are the culmination of years of research by the city’s Commission on Seniors. They gathered input from residents at a series of community events. Speaking at City Hall on Tuesday, board member Sally Van Sickle said the growing senior population wants to be included and contribute to their communities. The plan suggests the city create more volunteer opportunities along with an internship program for older adults.

“We want to be engaged in what is going on in the city, we want to be involved, we’ve got a lot of experience that we can bring to the table,” Van Sickle said. “And I will say that, while you always hear about the silver tsunami, it’s not a tsunami. It’s a reservoir that needs to be utilized.”

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The Future of Aging

Had to share this document, entitled The Future of Aging: Realizing the Potential of Longevity, here on our website. It was produced by the Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank. It is one of the best resources for anyone interested in age-progressive thought leadership and new attitudes about aging. Plus it features a piece written by Texas’ own Henry Cisneros. We find the positive messages so very energizing!

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Let Your Voice Be Heard

A very important step in the implementation of our Age-friendly Austin Plan is coming up this Thursday, October 6. The Austin City Council, at its regular weekly meeting, will vote on adding an age-friendly amendment to the Imagine Austin Plan. Their approval of this amendment will allow AustinUP and our community partners to work with City of Austin staff to implement our Age-friendly Austin goals and strategies. The item to be voted on appears as Item #56 under the 4:00 PM Public Hearings and Possible Actions, “Conduct a public hearing and consider an ordinance amending the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.”

Please email the Mayor and City Council to let them know that you support adding the age-friendly amendment to include a policy and actions to address key issues and challenges faced by seniors in our community. Sample text is included below. Every email matters! Fill out this form to send an email to the Mayor and City Council members all at one time, or you may send separate emails to the individual addresses below. Thank you!

Sample text: I, along with other AustinUP ( members and community partners, support Item #56 and a policy to make Austin an age-friendly city – a city that enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities and treats everyone with respect, regardless of their age. Please consider voting to support an age-friendly Austin. Thank you for your time.

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The Shape of Things to Come

SXSW Interactive 2016 provided many opportunities to learn about medical and technology innovation related to aging. It was an adventure that left us feeling hopeful about the future of aging.

Panels and presenters discussed:

  • “Personal assistants” that include Apple’s Siri and “smart devices” such as Amazon’s Alexa (Echo) that make everything you need “just a conversation away”
  • Easier access to healthcare through telemedicine
  • A “smart” grocery cart that drives itself and helps shoppers make healthier food choices at the grocery store
  • A “pharmacy of the future” that manages prescription refills, deliveries, doctor approvals, and packaging into patients’ daily doses
  • A debit card with special security features to prevent fraud against seniors
  • A chip implant that can restore healthy memory function in the hippocampus, the part of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • The “Internet of Caring Things,” a network of connected services, apps, objects and cognitive systems that an elder’s family, friends and neighbors use to proactively monitor his or her health and well-being, and
  • A brand new medical school right here in Austin that collaborated with UT’s College of Fine Arts to create the Design Institute for Health, “a first-of-its-kind initiative dedicated to applying a creative design-based approach to the nation’s healthcare challenges.”

Yes, some of the technology is still a work in progress. For example, as anyone who has tried unsuccessfully to ask Siri a question, it’s clear that humans should not have to change our speech patterns in order to meet the needs of personal assistants. And an Uber app might be fine when you need a quick ride downtown, but an “Uber for healthcare” app offering fast service for a loved one’s care probably isn’t as enticing. But efforts are moving in the right direction. No doubt by SXSW 2017, we will see great improvement to existing technologies as well as new developments in aging innovation. Read more ›

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Transforming Communities to Empower Seniors: SXSW Eco PanelPicker

vote for sxsw panel logo

The World Health Organization describes an age-friendly community as one in which “policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to support and enable older people to live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate fully in society.” From housing to healthcare to communication, the community design model must evolve to not only accommodate, but to empower seniors.

AustinUP pitched a panel presentation, “Transforming Communities to Empower Seniors,” to SXSW Eco  that will cover some of the age-friendly initiatives being implemented in Austin and in other cities. Public voting is taking place now through Friday, May 20, to gather input and measure interest. Please vote for our panel!

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Help Us Build an Age-friendly Austin

In September 2015, Austin’s Commission on Seniors formed a working group comprised of members of the Commission, AARP, AustinUP as well as local and regional service organizations, to bring to fruition recommendations from the Mayor’s Task Force on Aging, including the development of an Action Plan to transform Austin into an Age-friendly City. This working group has met weekly to outline a five-year plan, and identify goals and strategies. Before we move forward with the next phase – communication with City leaders – we would like to hear feedback from the community about the plan and the goals we have identified. This is your opportunity to tell us what you like – and what we missed. Working with AARP, we have scheduled three free community events in April and May. (See dates below.) We hope that you can join us at one of these sessions to add your voice to this process.  Read more ›

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AustinUP Focus Group Highlights: Age-friendly Neighborhoods

AustinUP hosted a focus group on Saturday, March 5, 2016, at Wildflower Terrace in the Mueller neighborhood. We welcomed 34 participants. Mary Anne Connolly, principal at MACMedia and founder of @changehoweage Twitter and Facebook feeds, facilitated a 90-minute discussion about the aspects, features, people, etc. that make a neighborhood age-friendly.

We looked at neighborhoods using the 8 Domains of Livability as a guide. For example, when discussing open spaces and buildings, we asked, “Does your neighborhood have adequate green spaces – with seating? Are they well maintained? Do you feel safe there?” When discussing social participation, we asked, “Are neighborhood events held at times convenient for older people?” It was a lively discussion.



A few general comments from the group:

“I’d like to see more “naturally occurring” retirement communities located within the neighborhood, i.e., people who live in close proximity who carpool together, shop together and look out for one another. Rental units could be reserved for seniors. Let’s create pockets of these senior communities all around Austin.”

“Retirement communities aren’t desirable for all. But whatever housing option you choose, it has to be affordable. That’s the main problem right now. We don’t have enough affordable options for taking care of our seniors. If the community also includes younger residents, that might help.”

We chose a condo off Mesa Drive in Northwest Hills specifically in order to be able to walk to grocery stores, church, bus stops and banks. When thinking about neighborhoods, city planners need to think about destination….i.e., where do people want to go and need to go?”

“I live in an intergenerational environment. But social options for my age group are limited. If we don’t create it, it doesn’t happen.”

Click here to read the full report. For news about future AustinUP events,  sign up to receive our free newsletter.

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Why Baby Boomers Refuse to Retire

Five years ago, in 2011, the first wave of the oldest U.S. baby boomers reached the common retirement age of 65. Since then, another 10,000 each day continue to reach this stage in their lives. The U.S. Census Bureau calculates that by 2020, 55.9 million people in the U.S. will be age 65 or older, and by 2030, that number will reach 72.7 million.

Nearly half of boomers still working say they don’t expect to retire until they are 66 or older, including one in 10 who predict they will never retire. How will all these aging boomers thrive in the 21st century? According to many experts on aging, it’s increasingly by staying in the workforce, at the very least on a part-time basis. As noted by Gallup in their “Many Baby Boomers Reluctant to Retire” report, “Nearly half of boomers still working say they don’t expect to retire until they are 66 or older, including one in 10 who predict they will never retire…” Read the full article on the Fast Company website.

Article written by George Lorenzo,  Fast Company
(Photo: diane555/Getty Images)

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Geriatrician Mark Carlson, MD Joins AustinUP Board

We are excited to introduce the newest member of the AustinUP Board of Directors. Dr. Mark Carlson is a fellowship-trained, board-certified geriatrician, internist and oncologist with 30 years of healthcare experience. He is the Founder and Director of Be Well MD, an innovative medical practice designed specifically for seniors. So that patients can receive their health care in an individualized setting, Dr. Carlson and his clinical team see their patients in the comfort of their own home.

Dr. Carlson received his medical doctorate from Loma Linda University in California and completed his geriatric medicine fellowship at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology and Geriatrics.

It is Dr. Carlson’s personal mission to help seniors live healthier and happier lives — and we couldn’t be more proud to have him join our Board. Welcome, Dr. Carlson!

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