Area seniors advocate for more resources

Up to 95 percent of elder abuse cases in the U.S. go unreported, leaving the nation’s aging population as one of the most vulnerable, according to recent reports.

Other issues, including depression, isolation and anxiety, are other components that can also lead to detrimental issues for senior citizens.

Texas is lacking in certain departments when it comes to serving its older population, according to a new WalletHub report.

Texas ranks 43rd in the country in healthcare and other services for elders. However, Texas ranks high in elderly protections, which stems in the state’s culture to help its citizens. 

“Sadly, the quality of nursing homes in Texas is the third lowest in the country,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at Wallethub. “We determined that by considering the percentage of certified nursing home beds rated four or five stars. Texas only has a 32.2 percent share.” 

According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, individuals with less social support are more likely to be victims of abuse as they age. With 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day, organizations are moving to help gauge senior citizens in a community environment. 

In Kyle, the Kyle Area Senior Zone (KASZ) is experiencing a major overhaul in activities and learning opportunities for Hays County seniors. These efforts, if successful, will help keep senior citizens engaged in social activities, which in turn, can lead to a healthier lifestyle. 

At the forefront is Larry Simone, KASZ president, who during his first 90 days in the position is fighting to change the perception of senior citizens. 

“Our seniors are younger, healthier, smarter and more talented than the seniors of the past,” Simone said. “We need to keep our senior citizens healthy and engaged. This will help them live a healthier lifestyle.”

Currently, KASZ hosts weekly lunches, yoga classes and other social gatherings like card playing. But Simone wants the organization and the city of Kyle to do more. 

Simone said he wants to utilize the talent in the senior citizen’s group by hosting seminars and events about cybersecurity, genealogy and art classes. The organization is also planning to host “jam sessions” with local elderly musicians to keep them musically in tune. 

“The city of Kyle is behind. They gave us the historic city hall over a decade ago, but that isn’t enough,” Simone said. “Why don’t we have a Department of Aging? Why is senior citizen health and well-being so overlooked? We’re here to change that.”

According to a peer-reviewed report titled Loneliness, social support networks, mood and well-being in community-dwelling elderly, 34 percent of those surveyed over the age of 65 were depressed. 

Additionally, 35 percent of the 1,329 surveyed persons had a non-integrated social network. Loneliness was higher in women, the widowed and those with physical disabilities and increased age, according to the report.

KASZ boasts around 800 members, but to Simone, engagement between members must be a pivotal point of interest in the future. 

The organization’s members are a diverse group of senior citizens, from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. And although they may all have different interests, Simone said the organization will work to provide services everyone can utilize. 

These services, he believes, can help keep the senior population engaged, educated and mobile. 

“But it’s also a case of the authorities not doing enough to prevent this kind of abuse,” Gonzalez said. “Unfortunately, elder abuse is a real and growing problem. The earlier we, as a country, become aware of this, the faster we can start taking steps to stop it from happening.”

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