Eighteen (18) independent not-for profit organizations agreed to work together, unifying their voice and sharing common language to promote public policy that benefits older adults and family caregivers in Tennessee. They were ultimately successful in increasing access to services (permit religious organizations-churches, synagogues, etc.) to offer limited respite services without licensure for adult daycare, expand systemic protection for elder and vulnerable adult victims of abuse and neglect, and retain access to affordable health insurance. It is estimated that more than 110,000 people 65 or older are affected by Alzheimer’s in Tennessee. In the next decade, that number is expected to increase by up to 44 percent.
The coalition is currently working with Tennessee’s Area Agencies on Aging and the Tennessee Commission on Aging to develop financial resources to benefit elder community members and their caregivers. The membership include: Tennessee Respite Coalition, Tennessee Justice Center, Mental Health America of the Midsouth, Fifty Forward, Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, League of Women Voters of Tennessee, AARP, UT College of Social Work, Tennessee Disability Coalition, Tennessee Chapter of NASW, Council on Aging of Middle TN, West End Home Foundation, Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Greater Nashville Regional Council, Tennessee Association of Adult Day Services and the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare.
This broad based group chose to put their differences aside to fight for older Tennesseans, an excellent role model for other states facing similar challenges to gaining critical support for resident elders and family caregivers. Now after two years their work together continues with equal energy towards improved policy.