— And they’re off! Lawmakers are gathering in Austin today for the start of the 140-day regular session of the Texas Legislature, facing a tight state spending picture, varying priorities from their leaders and a heavy workload of thorny issues to settle on behalf of the state’s 27 million residents. The House and Senate looks much the same as they did two years ago. Republicans run both chambers, with a 20-11 majority in the Senate and a 95-55 hold on the …

— As members of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, Austin and Fort Worth have developed strategic plans to prepare for the needs of an aging population. Although Austin has a youthful reputation, its share of people 55 and older is among the fastest growing in the nation. In November, the Austin City Council approved an age-friendly action plan, with implications for parks, recreational facilities, farmers markets, emergency responders, housing, public transportation, sidewalks and more. And after a series of public …

— When state lawmakers convene next month for the 2017 legislative session, AARP Texas will pursue an agenda that includes strengthening nursing home quality, easing stress for family caregivers, helping millions of Texans save for retirement, and protecting seniors from financial exploitation. AARP’s non-partisan Texas legislative priorities also include a focus on eliminating surprise medical bills, and advocating for the age 50+ community to ensure that insurance costs are reasonable, coverage is reliable, and utility services are affordable and dependable. The …

— Austin is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the nation, with a population of more than 930,000. Like other Texas cities, it’s car-focused, which means frequently long commutes and roadway congestion. Despite the daily traffic messes, public transit ridership has not increased significantly in recent years. Though it offers a robust transportation network of more than 360 buses, 82 bus routes, 220 vanpools, 171 paratransit vehicles, and a 32-mile rail line, Capital Metro passenger numbers are mostly stagnant, with …

— By Thomas Korosec AARP Texas and the state’s nursing home industry, with about approximately 1,200 facilities, are sometimes on opposite sides of issues in Austin. But they share one conclusion: Serious problems plague this vital part of the health care system. “To strengthen nursing home quality in Texas, AARP is asking the Legislature to hold nursing home operators accountable when they provide poor care,” said Amanda Fredriksen, AARP Texas associate state director for advocacy. A variety of sources and studies …

— By Bob Jackson Not often enough is there public discussion of the topic of family caregiving and what can be done to support these everyday heroes. Now is a great time for the conversation: November is National Family Caregivers Month. In Texas alone, there are more than 3.4 million family caregivers. Each day, they’re assisting older parents, spouses, partners, children with disabilities, other family members and friends, helping them remain in their own homes and communities – where they want …

— On Thursday evening, Nov. 17, AARP Texas will host a public forum in Austin featuring local and national experts discussing strategies for Texas communities to become even more accessible, comfortable and safe for people of all ages. Thursday’s “Austin Livability Solutions” event is the latest of the nationally acclaimed AARP Livable Communities Solutions Forums and will be presented as part of the Image Austin speaker series. The event – which is free and open to the public — will feature …

— Many older LGBT citizens face difficulties getting proper medical treatment. Some live alone due to fear of discrimination. Others can find it hard to settle into nursing homes because of potential mistreatment. AARP Texas will participate in an event this weekend in Fort Worth that aims to provide education and advice. From 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, the Coalition for Aging LGBT will host the Inaugural Summit on LGBT Aging at the University of North Texas’ Health …

Photo Credit: Adam Coppola Photography

— Austin enjoys a reputation as a young city. It’s also among the fastest-growing areas for people 55 and older. City leaders are taking the growth trend seriously. On Thursday, the Austin City Council approved a plan to help people “age in place.” The plan – the first of its kind to be adopted by a Texas city – aims to bring about needed changes that will benefit older persons, families and children alike. When implemented, it asks for a recreation …

— You can’t stop getting older, but you can disrupt aging by ignoring outdated expectations and defining yourself. Bill Thomas, M.D., a geriatrician and Life Reimagined Institute expert, is on a national tour promoting a new view of aging through a nonfiction theatrical performance called “Life’s Most Dangerous Game.” Sponsored by AARP, the tour includes stops in Fort Worth, Nov. 14; Tyler, Nov 15; Waco, Nov. 16; Austin, Nov. 17; and Houston, Nov. 18. The show complements AARP CEO Jo Ann …