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Gov. Haslam's Office Preps for Review of Aging Services

PHOTO: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's office reports the pieces are now being put in place for a comprehensive review of aging services in state government. Photo credit: Carlton Browne/Flickr.
PHOTO: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's office reports the pieces are now being put in place for a comprehensive review of aging services in state government. Photo credit: Carlton Browne/Flickr.
September 2, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - One thing nearly all Tennesseans can agree on is they want good health and independence as they age, and efforts are underway in the state to make sure those opportunities exist today and into the future.

The Governor's Task Force on Aging has already recommended a number of steps, and according to Charla Long, dean of the college of professional studies at Lipscomb University and a task force member, this includes an initial review of aging services in state government.

"There are 17 agencies that provide 24 key services to the aging," says Long. "That's a lot of bounce-back, and there could be some duplication in there. We're encouraging the governor to have his team take a look at that, and see how could we streamline that to make services for the aging more efficient."

Governor Haslam's office says they're currently putting the pieces in place to do a comprehensive review, but they haven't settled an official start date yet.

The review is just one of many proposals from the task force, which also included Rebecca Kelly, state director of AARP Tennessee. She says their focus is on three key areas: promoting healthy aging, creating livable communities for people of all ages, and supporting family caregivers.

"A tremendous number of individuals are out there trying to provide care for people they love," says Kelly. "Some of them are in the workforce. Some are retired. Some of them are older themselves. They really need one place they can go to find information and easily access what they need."

To succeed in supporting family caregivers and making communities more healthy and livable as the state grows older, Kelly says all sectors of the state will need to come to the table. Long shares the sentiment.

"If we move towards collective impact," explains Long, "where there is cross-sector collaboration between employers, for profit, nonprofit, faith-based organizations and the government, we really have a chance of making a significant difference in the lives and of older Tennesseans and those that care for them."

The latest figures show more than 14 percent of Tennesseans are currently over age 65. That number is expected to grow to more than 22 percent by 2020.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN