Guest Post from 2015 Emerge Graduate Clarissa Ramirez.
Clarisa is a Marketing and Communications Consultant for Small Coffee.
This video on Health and Human Services was prepared by a team who examined aspects of this issue in our community. Please take a minute to watch.
Austin has a reputation of being a healthy, active town where people regularly run and cycle up and down Lady Bird Lake, sip freshly squeezed juices from JuiceLand, and practice yoga on the weekends. Unfortunately, Austin isn’t very different from most American cities because it has its own set of problems it faces that not everybody talks about. That’s what my group members and I came to find out when we visited with Earl Maxwell, CEO of St. David’s Foundation. Health and Human Services is a broad topic, but the one thing that Earl mentioned that stuck with me was the topic of the aging population in Austin, and I decided this would be the subtopic on which I would focus my attention.
Yes, Austin is a lovely place to live and to retire, for numerous reasons, but people don’t think about palliative care, Earl told us, and they don’t want to talk about aging because it reminds them of their own death. The subject just isn’t sexy. Palliative care was a new concept to me, and it means thinking proactively about aging by making changes around your home that will either prevent you from falling or will cushion the blow. Earl explained that falling among seniors is a huge problem because once a senior falls their health goes downhill. He shared a personal story about his mother, and how she fell in the living room because she tripped on something. Her doctor told her that she needs to keep the lights on now, because the cost of the fall is more expensive than the cost of electricity it takes to keep that bulb on.
I had never thought about my own aging experience, but doing research and having these conversations about aging made me realize that I will have to start doing things now—such as staying in shape and making sure I practice my balance through yoga— so I will be active and agile when I’m older. It also inspired me to volunteer with groups such as Meals on Wheels because of the need that’s out here in Austin. The greatest takeaway from the project, however, is the empathy I now have for Austin’s older population.
NOTE: The opinions of Leadership Austin alumni, faculty members, and guest bloggers are their own, and do not represent an official position of the organization.