Published December 15, 2021
Today, St. David’s Foundation announced $51 million in new funding to advance health equity in Central Texas. The most significant portion of these new investments will support the region’s aging adults ($13 million), as well as safety net clinics to ensure access to quality health care for the uninsured and underinsured ($18 million). This funding brings the Foundation’s cumulative 2021 investments in Central Texas to more than $76 million across our strategic priorities.
The challenges of caring for a rapidly aging population are too often overlooked in the conversation about the Austin metro area’s explosive growth. Many people would be surprised to learn that adults over the age of 60 are the fastest-growing segment of the Central Texas population. One out of every six residents is age 60 or older, and in rural communities outside of Austin, this ratio is even higher. Among these seniors, one in three individuals is living with a disability and one in 15 is living below the poverty line.
Rapid population growth, combined with the unique needs of older adults, is increasing the demand for direct services for seniors and supports for caregivers. A 2021 survey found that more than 90% of seniors would prefer to live out their later years in their current home. However, many people will require support in accomplishing the tasks of daily living as they age. Health issues and disabilities can make these needs even more complex. While some families have access to and can afford paid care attendants for their loved ones, many others cannot. Families who experience systemic inequities are more likely to be forced to take on the responsibilities of caregiving themselves. As the population of older adults in Central Texas continues to grow, the strain on family caregivers also increases. This “silent army” of 53 million Americans—representing a ratio of one in five Americans—work overtime as caregivers, for free, in roles for which they are untrained and uncompensated.
The impact of caregiving for an older adult on the caregiver is vast—emotional, physical, and mental—and often comes along with significant financial implications. On average, caregivers report spending 26% of their total income on caregiving activities.
“We often say that aging is the great equalizer, because eventually we all experience some decline in physical and cognitive function. However, the manner in which people are able to manage these challenges is largely dependent on the resources that families may or may not have,” said St. David’s Foundation senior program officer Andrew Levack, MPH. “We are committed to funding local partners that make these essential resources more readily accessible to all aging seniors and those who care for them.”
As part of St. David’s Foundation’s ongoing commitment to supporting older Central Texans in remaining independent and healthy as they age, we are proud to fund 37 organizations and initiatives with grants totaling more than $13 million in support in this latest grantmaking cycle.
One effective and meaningful way of supporting seniors and their caregivers is through adult day health centers—locations that provide daytime care and companionship to older adults, that in turn serve as a respite for those who care for them. These essential services give family members the ability to share caregiving responsibilities and enable care recipients to connect with others and participate in activities that can improve their daily lives.
Two grant recipients spearheading the expansion of this much-needed form of respite are AGE of Central Texas and A Gift of Time, both of which will use funding to build and operate adult day health centers in Central Texas.
St. David’s Foundation continues to support local partners which provide direct services in transportation, nutrition, case management, and improvements for home safety. These grants help Texans remain in their homes and live independently.
For those with greater needs, grants funding in-home-based care support family caregivers, reduce costs of facility-based care, and allow older adults to remain in their homes. The Foundation also seeks solutions to the labor shortage of skilled home care workers—a need that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
As the population of older adults grows, so does the critical conversation surrounding how our community can support the work of caregivers and the health and well-being of aging seniors. We invite you to learn more about our aging portfolio of work and how you can you support the aging community by clicking here.
For a full list of our recent grant cycle recipients, as well as a breakdown of funds across the Foundation’s five strategic priorities and more, please click here.