The efforts of older Americans built the foundation of our future and our countryâ€™s future.
As a young child growing up in Alpine, my grandmother lived with us. Perhaps because of that, I learned to respect my elders at an early age. My parents taught me that she and others of her generation had worked much and sacrificed much to move our family into the middle class.
Many of us share a similar story â€“ the elderly members of our families actively worked to better our lives. We now do the same for our children and grandchildren â€“ and our own turn to become senior citizens will come sooner or later.
May is Older Americans Month. In May, we honor the accomplishments of generations before us. We must also pledge to return the favor â€“ the love, affection and sacrifice â€“ that they made for us. As they get older, we as a society must pledge to take care of them.
As we get older, our bodies become more prone to injury. In 2013, six million older Americans made an accident-related trip to the hospital. Sadly, these accidents resulted in 30,000 older Americans being buried by their loved ones. Average life expectancy has risen â€“ that makes it even harder when one of our parents or grandparents doesnâ€™t make it that far. Such a loss ends a big chapter in the book of our lives.
This month and throughout the year, we make an extra effort, trip or phone call to ensure our older Americans are safe. We also work to provide them preventative healthcare that will ensure they are around for decades to come.
Some items to pay special attention to are hazards around homes â€“ a loose floor tile or slippery shower. We must also make sure older Americans have means of communication and reliable transportation to medical appointments, the grocery store, a friendâ€™s house or church. For more helpful tips, or for questions surrounding elderly care, visit your local Area Agency on Aging Office by visiting www.eldercare.gov or by calling (800) 677-1116.
In Washington, we have much the same type of obligation to our older Americans. Ensuring seniors have access to healthcare, social security, and other programs is a priority of mine. I will never agree to degradation of services to older Americans. Never.
Congressâ€™ obligation to our older Americans is to work together, in bipartisan manner, to meet the commitments our government has made to them. I take this responsibility seriously, and I continue to fight for older Americans in the 23rd District of Texas. If you know of an older constituent in need of assistance with a federal agency, please have them call one of the district offices. In San Antonio, they can call (210) 927-4592. In Del Rio and Eagle Pass, they can call (830) 488-6600. In El Paso, they can call (915) 872-1066. We are here to help. Recently, the offices helped secure over $2.5 million in benefits owed to constituents of the district.
During this month, letâ€™s all do our part to better enrich the lives of older Americans and keep them and their contributions around for years to come. After all, theyâ€™ve earned it â€“ and we owe it to them.
U.S. Representative Pete P. Gallego, D-Alpine, represents the 23rd District of Texas, which includes all or parts of 29 counties in southwest Texas, stretching from San Antonio to El Paso.