Family Eldercare was founded in 1982 by a group of professionals concerned with supporting the family’s role as caregiver for frail elders through training and information. The agency soon expanded to include services to prevent abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of elders and adults with disabilities. Almost all services that Family Eldercare offers are unduplicated.
Guardianship Program Introduced
In 1986, Family Eldercare initiated the Guardianship Program to provide legal guardianship protections for incapacitated adults who are at risk of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Lawyers are recruited to handle all required legal filings and court work pro bono, allowing Family Eldercare to establish and maintain guardianships. Trained volunteer guardian advocates monitor their client’s care, arrange for appropriate social services, medical care, and living arrangements; maintain contact with doctors, nurses, social workers, and other care providers; and intervene on a client’s behalf if care is inappropriate, or neglect or abuse is suspected. Today, Guardianship of the Person oversees 430+ individuals; Guardianship of the Estates oversees $20M+ worth of assets…Read More >
Money Management Program Established
Shortly thereafter, Family Eldercare launched the Bill Payer Program to provide volunteer-supported money management services to adults, including low-income adults, who are unable to manage their own finances. Bill payers assist clients with sorting mail, balancing checkbooks, writing checks for the client to sign, and ensuring bills are paid in a timely manner. Representative Payees provide budget set-up, payment of monthly bills and account balancing for individuals determined to be incapable of handling their own finances. These services offer the least restrictive form of assistance to vulnerable adults, preserving their rights, and providing the necessary safeguards for independent living. Care/Case Managers work together with volunteers, ensuring that client’s money has effective checks and balances…Read More >
Consultation and Referral Services Started
In 1988, Family Eldercare began contracting with Work/Family Directions to provide consultation, care planning and referral services to corporate employee caregivers in Central Texas. Family Eldercare expanded these services in 1997 to the Travis County community through the Consultation and Service Coordination Program to help elders and their caregivers develop care strategies, navigate complex service delivery systems, and access services to support aging in place. Services are provided over the phone, through office and home visits, and from satellite offices at three affordable senior apartment communities in the Austin area, including Family Eldercare’s Lyons Gardens Senior Community.
Summer Fan Drive Started
1986 was the inaugural year of the Fan Drive, started by employees of the Southern Union Gas, who formed the Austin Fan Club. Family Eldercare adopted the initiative in 1990 and, through the support of the community, has turned it into an iconic Austin event. The annual Summer Fan Drive assists in preventing heat stroke, other heat-related afflictions and death among frail, low-income elders living without fans or air-conditioners in their homes. Distribution has grown from 50 fans to frail elders in Austin in 1990, to an annual average distribution of 6,000 fans to low-income older adults, people with disabilities and families with children in 11-12 Central Texas counties. Family Eldercare carries out the Summer Fan Drive in collaboration with local media, businesses/corporations, and other social service providers, along with partnerships with 45 community distribution sites and teams of volunteers. Click HERE to learn more about the Summer Fan Drive…Read More >
In Home Care and Respite Services Started
In 1995, Family Eldercare acquired the In Home Care & Respite Services Program from Seniors’ Respite Service, a local nonprofit that operated the service in the Austin area in 1983. The program provides homemaker and personal attendant services on a sliding fee scale to seniors, adults with disabilities, and their caregivers. Family Eldercare is a licensed personal assistant services provider under the Texas Department of Human Services …Read More >
Elder Shelter Started
Family Eldercare opened the Elder Shelter in 1997 in collaboration with a local housing developer to provide temporary housing and case management for low-income elders, allowing them to leave an abusive or unsafe living situation or to avoid homelessness. Austin’s only subsidized emergency shelter for the elderly, the Elder Shelter was comprised of two fully furnished two-bedroom, two-bathroom, wheelchair-accessible apartments. Before losing essential funding for the shelter, it expanded our temporary subsidized housing program to include 17 additional apartment units for low-income seniors in crisis. The shelter has since closed, but Best Single Source Plus (BSS+) through the Foundation for the Homeless has since stepped forward to provide funding sources for similar situations.
Low-Income Senior Housing Initiated
In late 2001, Family Eldercare launched a $5.6 million capital campaign to build and operate Lyons Gardens Senior Community, a 54-unit supportive housing development for low-income seniors in East Austin. Opened in October 2004 at capacity and with a long waiting list, Lyons Gardens is recognized as an affordable senior housing model at the national, state and local levels. Family Eldercare provides on-site service coordination and case management to ensure residents are linked to support services they need to age in place. A volunteer and activities program developed to provide residents with a range of activities to combat social isolation and promote healthy aging.
The increase in demand for services and growth in our programs over the years has resulted in Family Eldercare placing an emphasis on integration of case management into all community-based programs. This assures that each client is thoroughly assessed and provided with seamless access to all available support services and resources to ensure their health, housing, and basic needs are met and monitored to promote aging in place.
Lifetime Connections Without Walls (LCWW) was established in 2009. Family Eldercare’s Lifetime Connections program is based on a pilot program that won the 2008 American Society on Aging MindAlert award for its innovation and effectiveness in improving older adults’ mental fitness. Its purpose is to prevent and alleviate depression and loneliness among homebound seniors by offering social activities, educational classes, friendly conversation, and peer support through telephone conference calls. The phone-in program requires no special equipment, using conference calls to participants’ home phones. Volunteers play an important role, helping to develop, produce, and host programs, introducing the program to new participants, and making calls to participants to remind them when to call in.
In 2010, Family Eldercare purchased the current location at 1700 Rutherford Lane from the American Heart Association. The old building located on Hancock Drive provided only 6,500 feet of business space, while the new 23,000 foot location included the ability to expand, have almost all employees office out of one location, and a two-story warehouse to allow storage of donations, client items and to fully run the iconic four-month-long Summer Fan Drive out of.
By 2016, Money Management has successfully functioned as its own for years with its founding services: Bill Payer and Representative Payee. In addition, a $125K grant through the “Fund for Veterans Assistance” was secured in 2014, allowing Family Eldercare’s Money Management Program to be the only Professional Fiduciary Service for Veterans in Central Texas, serving approximately 160 veterans annually.
Continuing to Meet Evolving Community Needs
An analysis by A Brookings Institution analysis showed that between 2000 and 2010, Travis and Williamson counties had the fastest growing ‘pre-senior’ population (age 55-64) in the nation and ranked second in senior (age 65+) population growth. Over the next several decades, the 65+ population is expected to continue growing rapidly both in number and as a share of the population – by 2040 more than half a million older adults 65+ will live in the 5-county area and comprise approximately one-fifth (18%) of the Central Texas population.
Family Eldercare’s core programs address multiple needs identified in a Spring 2013 publication produced by the Aging Services Council of Central Texas. Through our robust volunteer program, Family Eldercare recruits and retains retired individuals who offer the community a valuable resource through their experience, perspective, and willingness to be of service. Those who are transitioning from a full-time career bring a lifetime of experience to their volunteer positions!
As some seniors are afforded the ability to volunteer, others need support to meet their needs or to address issues that arise through the aging process. Particularly, low-income older adults may need assistance to meet basic day-to-day needs. Older adults experiencing poverty increased by 42% between ’00-’10, and one-in-four older adults had incomes at or below 200% of the poverty threshold. With the cost of living in the Greater Austin Area rising drastically each year, this number has likely also raised sharply. Also, it’s reported nationally that 80% of older adults have one chronic condition, and 50% have at least two. Locally, a 2008 St. David’s Foundation survey found that 28% of adults 75+ reported suffering from loneliness.
Never before in our history have we faced a demographic shift of such magnitude. The “Silver Tsunami” is happening and it is predicted that the elderly will outnumber the younger population by 2 to 1. With the Greater Austin Area having the highest fair market rents, the third-highest median home price and the highest average home price of Texas Metropolitan areas, older adults with lower, fixed-incomes will struggle to simply age in place . . . or age in any place.
In the 2008 St. David’s Foundation survey, 11% of seniors (60+) reported they experience difficulty getting out of bed or a chair and 7% needed assistance with bathing, showering or dressing. Additionally, 40% needed assistance with heavier household tasks such as cleaning floors, outside chores, house maintenance or annual household chores. Finally, seniors reported that they would love to remain active in the community, but many have lost the ability to transport themselves or do not have adequate access to public transit.
Family Eldercare has heard the needs of the community and stepped forward to provide exemplary programs, while also partnering with those in the community who display the same exceptional excellence, allowing our clients to thrive.