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AARP AARP States Florida

Caregiver Chronicles: Bill Ternent

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William “Bill” Ternent retired and moved to Ormond Beach in 1997 after a long career as a college professor and administrator. He started volunteering for AARP the following year and is still going strong.

A former member of the AARP Florida Executive Council, Ternent meets often with legislators and their staff members locally as a volunteer advocate. He plans to travel to Tallahassee this month before the start of the Legislature’s annual 60-day session in January to meet with lawmakers.

After 25 years of advocacy, he’s not slowing down and figures he’s got another 25 years in him.

He’s 91.

Sure, that’s an age when most people are resting on their laurels, or at least resting their feet a little, not wandering the halls of the state Capitol. But if volunteering for another 25 years seems unusually optimistic, consider that when he was 60 and planning his retirement, he set a goal of living to 120. ”I’m starting to think that’s not long enough,” he said with a laugh.

Those who know him are not surprised.

“I absolutely love working with him,” says Jill Auld, Associate State Director of Outreach & Engagement. “He is mission driven and cares deeply about fraud prevention and making sure the 50+ community is educated and aware of scams that are going on…When he hears about something that is going on that affects the 50+ community he makes sure to let us know. He cares so much about the community and that is why he is still going strong after all this time volunteering with AARP.”

Ternent spent 10 years as an administrator at North Central Technical College in Wisconsin, a professor at Howard University and helped with some college startups. Before that he had worked on government relations for General Electric. That experience makes him a natural volunteer advocate.

“Whenever there is a need for dealing with state or on occasion federal representatives I respond,” Ternent says. He’s proud to represent AARP, which is says is highly respected in the halls of power. “The quality of the work that AARP does related to advocacy and the concerns, the needs, the affairs for older folks is top drawer. I’ve never run into anybody who doesn’t have the greatest respect for what we do. We try to be very well prepared, stick to the issues….We have a good reputation.”

Besides volunteering for AARP, he is also primary caregiver for his wife, who still suffers the effects of a fall a few years ago. That has given him a new perspective on the importance of family caregivers and the support they deserve from the state and informs his meetings with lawmakers to press for increased funding.

“That’s an extremely important area,” he says. He tells lawmakers how important it is to help people stay in the homes and out of institutionalized care.

He has no plans to retire from AARP. “That’s my intention,” he says, “I guess until they kick me out!”

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