Eight out of ten fatalities related to Covid-19 have occurred in adults 65 and older, according to the CDC, and 40% of fatalities in Texas have been residents of nursing homes.
Protection of elderly Texans is prompting AARP Texas is lobby Congress – virtually – to address the elderly’s particular needs during the crisis. Texas Director Tina Tran details their three-pronged approach, the concern for residents of nursing homes their top priority. “Protecting residents in nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities, and that includes things like additional PPE’s, testing, as well as transparency around Covid 19 cases.” Tran says AARP Texas recently held a town hall with Texas Senator John Cornyn and has been arranging meetings with as many congressional representatives as they can.
Public pressure to improve transparency is a national force. As of May 1, USA Today reports that one-quarter of fatalities have come from nursing homes and long-term-care facilities, but it’s hard to say how accurate those numbers are because of the transparency issue. Kentucky, Colorado and Pennsylvania report more than half of their cases have been in nursing homes.
Food insecurity among elderly is another consideration for AARP Texas, their second point asking for more investment in federal nutrition programs and increased flexibility of who can apply and how long they can receive benefits. AARP is urging Congress to temporarily increase both the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) minimum and maximum monthly benefits. “While we appreciate the significant bipartisan work that Congress has already accomplished on behalf of older Americans during this crisis, more actions are urgently needed,” says Tran. “Older adults are at much greater risk from the coronavirus. It is critical that Congress continues to help older Americans confront health care and financial needs that are only growing.”
Tran says their third focus is to lobby for additional support for state and local governments, the entities that provide most day-to-day assistance to aging populations, and says that when state and local governments receive the needed funds, asks that they be applied to the needs of the elderly.
Texas has 3.2 million residents over the age of 65, roughly 12% of the population. For the Texas Department of Health and Human Services department on aging and the services they provide, click here.