According to the Federal Administration on Aging (AoA), the number of people over 65 years old is increasing and fast. The organization estimates that by 2030, there will be more than 72 million seniors, which is more than twice the number there were in 2000 and a number that will represent almost one in five Americans. In addition, the Texas Department on Aging states that Texas currently has the fifth largest population of seniors and those numbers are on the rise.
The AoA predicts that people will be living longer, more productive lives. The organization expects that by 2040 there will be more than 14 million U.S. seniors aged 85 or older, which is almost three times as many as there are today. Because many seniors are delaying retirement and continuing to work, they will likely have more disposable income at a later age than some of their predecessors.
Many seniors find that homes they lived in when more family members were in residence are too big to live in comfortably any longer. It is also inevitable some seniors will find themselves with limited resources due to illness or economic issues and will be hunting for less expensive living arrangements. Fortunately, there are many alternatives in the Tomball/Magnolia area and more are being added all the time. The area presents a rural environment with lots of green space that many seniors find peaceful and attractive.
Some seniors prefer to leave yard maintenance behind and just want a quiet home environment near their peers. Such an option is presented by Senior Living at Magnolia Trails, which has 80 well-appointed apartments, a gated parking lot, a pool, walking trail, dog park, and plenty of opportunities for residents to socialize with each other.
"This is a safe and quiet living option for people 55 or over who don't need medical care – those who just want to enjoy themselves and not have home maintenance to worry about," property manager Lea Storenski explains.
Other seniors need a home location with medical care options. They may want to start with independent living, then move to assisted living, where they have some medical help and then into specialized care. They can do that at The Heritage Tomball Retirement Community.
"We are the continuum of care," Carrie Boisen, executive director, said. "A person can enter here and remain for the rest of their life with our varying care levels. We also have respite care, which provides care for one to 30 days if the person just needs to stay for a short time before returning to their family."
Another area option, The Tomball Nursing Center has provided full nursing care to area residents for more than 40 years. Mike Prejean, administrator, is proud that the center has "a long tradition of giving care to the elderly." Both of these centers have a wide variety of activities for residents daily, both in and out of the facility and full transportation services.
A growing senior housing segment is that of assisted living homes. These offer full or partial medical care in a small, family-type environment. Residents live in a house with a small number of other residents (usually six to 12), with care-givers present around the clock. Assisted Living at Magnolia Ranch is such a center.
"We offer full nursing services in a home environment," owner Doug Whisler said. "Our residents love the green spaces and we have horses on the property for them to watch and interact with. It's very peaceful for them."
In this center and others like it, not all patients are elderly, which makes for a more family-like setting. Whisler and Emilia Fiscu, owner of Stagecoach Senior Living, both started assisted living facilities to provide better care for ill parents.
"I came to this area because my father-in-law was sick," Fiscu said. "We find the country location to be perfect."
Her facility specializes in elderly residents.
For some seniors, living with family members is the best option, but the family is sometimes gone all day and busy with work or their own activities. The seniors may need caregivers in the home during each day or just once in a while to check on them, pick up medication, provide meals, or take them to the doctor. For these people, home care is a good option. Laura Hittler, Magnolia resident, opted for At Your Side Home Health Care with her husband, David, to offer family-oriented caregiving to their own parents. Their company has expanded into a busy service that provides non-medical help for many area seniors.
"Many people want to stay in their homes, or they want to stay with family members, but they can't get around. Our service allows them to do that," said Hittler.
In addition to housing, seniors need other services they can find in the area, such as medical care, transportation options, nutritional care, and activities. If they become disabled, they will need caregivers and specialized services.
The federal government created the Older Americans Act (OAA) in 1965 as the first federal law aimed at providing comprehensive services for older adults and subsequently created the Administration on Aging to oversee those services.
Passed as part of Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" reforms, the OAA was to ensure equal opportunity for and prevent discrimination against older Americans. As a result, grants have been provided to states to ensure they can maintain the services that seniors need. Since passage of the OAA, states have created local programs for their older residents. As an example, the Harris County Area Agency on Aging (HCAAA) is part of the nationwide network that coordinates supportive services for the elderly and offers a variety of programs to meet the overall needs of Harris County residents who are 60 or older. Call them at 832-393-4301 or 800-213-8471 to learn more.
As another example, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability (DADS) was created in 2004 to administer long-term support to people who are aging, as well as those of any age with intellectual or physical disabilities. DADS licenses and regulates the service providers and helps people get in contact with those in their area. Their website has information about the services available and how to access them www.dads.state.tx.us. For Montgomery County, their number is 800-416-1617.
For living and care options, seniors in our area have access to a wide variety of opportunities and can look forward to more as our population grows.