In recognition of National Senior Citizens Day, Governor Bill Haslam on Friday unveiled a report by the Governor’s Task Force on Aging aimed at serving the state’s senior citizens more efficiently and effectively.
Among the initial steps the task force has recommended are to conduct a review of aging services in state government and to promote healthy living in partnership with the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, as well as encourage local leaders to assess their communities for their livability for the aging.
“We know that while more than 14 percent of Tennesseans are over the age of 65 today, that number is expected to be more than 22 percent by 2020, and we need to be prepared for that as a state,” Governor Haslam said. “I am grateful to the task force for its work and recommendations.”
Governor Haslam formed the Governor’s Task Force on Aging in August of 2013. He charged the group with creating a plan to improve the lives and care of older Tennesseans and their families through a collaboration of public, private and non-profit leaders.
The task force has presented three areas of focus: promoting healthy aging; creating livable communities; and supporting family caregivers.
The vision of the group is to ensure that older Tennesseans have access to programs, services and opportunities in their local communities that enhance their physical, mental, financial, social and spiritual well-being.
One goal is to grow the number of livable communities in Tennessee by providing affordable, appropriate housing, adequate mobility options and supportive services to enhance personal independence and the engagement of older Tennesseans in civic and social life.
Another goal is to increase the capacity of caregivers to make informed choices in decision-making, through public education and targeted investments that lead to sustainable caregiver respite services, as well as increased awareness of the importance of employer collaboration in supporting caregivers.
The 11-member task force met twice a month for six months and hosted three public meetings in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis. An online survey was also conducted to receive suggestions from citizens unable to attend a meeting.
Research by the task force showed that Tennessee ranks in the bottom 10 states on almost all health and well-being measures. Ninety percent of individuals want to age in place, but not all Tennessee communities are prepared for the increased community requirements.
The panel found that family caregivers feel ill-prepared for the role and that employers are not educated about the impacts on productivity when employees are family caregivers.
The complete report can be found online at https://news.tn.gov/sites/default/files/Aging-Task-Force-Final.pdf.
National Senior Citizens Day was established in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.