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Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas


Dec. 24, 1998

No Sunset for oldsters

By Joe Warren
Right now there are over 2.5 million Texans 60 plus years old . By the year 2020 there will be double that number. There are several issues and decisions facing us right now that can ready us to meet the needs of the increasing older population.

One of the issues that will be handed to legislators later this year for approval, will be the Sunset Advisory Commission's recommendation on organization and delivery of health and human services.

It's still in the planning stages right now, but some think that it would be better for the smaller, local, more user friendly Texas Department on Aging (TDoA) to be taken over by Health and Human Services. One of the services of the TDoA that could be negatively impacted is the Congregate Meals program.

We hope that the final decision of the Sunset Advisory Commission will be to listen to the response of the TDoA and stay with the status quo.

We believe that older Texans, their families, and communities will be negatively impacted by consolidation of the TDoA into a long-term care agency. The Older Americans Act (OAA) requires the recipient agency of OAA funds to serve as an advocate for older individuals. Key tenets of the OAA relating to advocacy, volunteerism, socialization, and healthy aging are not addressed in the Sunset's report. These activities which are essential to all aging services, provided through the TDoA, promote the local control and self-determination that foster independence and aging. Texas government can't afford to dilute the healthy aging perspective not addressed in Sunset's report.

The vast majority of Texans who benefit from these non-meals-tested services receive multiple benefits from these services that cannot be quantified. The Congregate meal participants receive socialization,fitness, wellness, recreation, comradery, brotherhood and fellowship, if you don't think so, go have lunch at the Ward County Senior Center any Monday through Friday at noon. TDoA as the single state agency that deals solely with aging, is able to advocate for seniors not only at the state level, but does a great job locally, where millions of local dollars are raised. Additionally, millions of hours of volunteerism that currently supplement aging services could be lost. These lost volunteer hours would have to be absorbed by the state.

Older Texans need the best possible stewardship of scarce resources to address the increasing challenges and opportunities of an aging population. Older Texans need a strong, visible, advocate for aging Texans, and Texans need to be prepared for the longevity revolution. The TDoA needs to be left alone to do the things they do so well. We do not need to take away the services they provide our older Texans. We hope the final decision of the Sunset Advisory Commission will be to keep with the present system and let state and local funds work the way they have for years.

New Year's challenge

By Linda Stephens

I'm sitting at my desk. It's Tuesday morning and the weather outside is wonderful. It's cold and crisp and cloudy - what we in West Texas call Winter. Why do I call it wonderful? Because of a little thing known as comparison. Think about it. How many people have you heard complain about the weather lately? Personally I've only heard one and he was complaining more about the temperature in our office than he was the weather outside. Besides all that, he complains about most things so he doesn't count.

Why is nobody complaining? It all goes back to that comparison thing. We all remember only too vividly those 100 plus days most of last summer. Those were the days when we wished earnestly for winter to come. And now that it is here, how can we complain?

Most things in our lives are like that. When something bad happens, we comfort one another by thinking of the ways it could have been worse. Take the case of Bill Clinton. I've heard people say that they really believe he should be removed from office, but they are concerned about having Al Gore for president - sort of the lesser of two evils thing, comparison if you will.

Most of us have a mental system of values that we compare gifts, events and even people to. One of my most "valuable" gifts was a box of Valentine candy I received from my boyfriend (now my husband). It was valuable for two reasons. One was because I knew he had sacrificed for me to have that box of candy. He was paying his own way through college and lived very close. My box of candy meant he had done without something because of how much he cared for me. The second reason is a little less philanthropic. I was the envy of a number of girls whose boyfriends were not that thoughtful. It was many years before I finally threw away that box and by then it was pretty bedraggled.

How do we determine how "good" a good friend is? Usually it is in terms of how valuable they are to us. And by comparison, a "best" friend is better than a good friend. When I think of a best friend, I think of that person I know I could count on no matter what. I think of that person who would help me or stand by me in any circumstance. I have been blessed by having a few such friends over the years.

And we've all tried to use comparison on our children. "Eat your spinach - in Africa children are starving." Perhaps it would be better to say, "Tonight we are not having spinach because we are going to take the money we would spend on that spinach and send it to Africa for those starving children."

There are other things whose value only becomes evident in retrospect. Things such as gifts from a loved one who has left this world. Perhaps of even more value is time spent with that person.

How will we decide how good this Christmas is? Probably by comparing it to past Christmases.

Let me challenge you this year to take a good look at your "comparison" system - maybe it is time for an update.

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
Joe Warren, Publisher
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
Phone 915-943-4313, FAX 915-943-4314

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers Inc.