Category: Press Release

Texas Silver Haired Legislature Logo

Texas Silver-Haired Legislature Working for Seniors

Delegates from 28 Districts Sworn in at the 18th Texas Silver-Haired Legislature

Press Release by Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL)

The 18th Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL) convened on the floor of the House of Representatives in Austin, Texas, July 14- 18 this summer. Eighty delegates from 28 districts in Texas were sworn in for a two-year term by the Honorable Donna Howard, Texas Rep. District 48.

This five-day meeting was the first of three TSHL sessions to be held over the next 12 months. The delegates will research senior issues in Texas, prepare resolutions for proposed legislation, pass them through committee, and vote on them in full chamber next May. Approved resolutions will be included in a 2020 TSHL Legislative Report that will be delivered to all legislators, as well as to the Governor and Lt. Governor, in advance of the 2021 state session.

The Texas Silver-Haired Legislature is a non-partisan body created by the 69th Texas Legislature with the adoption of SCR 37, on April 3, 1985. Since its inception, some 684 seniors have been elected to serve in TSHL. The vision of TSHL is that “the applied wisdom, energy, and experience of aging will improve the lives of all Texans through education, knowledge, and involvement in legislation and governmental affairs.

Irene Andrews Texas Silver-Haired Legislature Central Texas representative

Central Texas TSHL representative Irene Andrews

Local resident Irene Andrews, representing Central Texas which includes the seven counties of Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam, Mills and San Saba, was among the sworn delegates and will serve her second term as elected chair of the sub-committee on Retirement and Aging. In her first term, she is proud to have co-signed a resolution that asked the Legislature to take action to make the Teacher Retirement System Pension Plan actuarily sound. She helped inform her fellow TSHL members on this issue, explaining that TRS impacts thousands of seniors in this state who are retired teachers, such as herself. It became one of the top ten resolutions that TSHL voted on, approved and published in their Legislative Report.

Andrews recalled visiting the Capitol many times, both before and during the recent 2019 State Legislative session, meeting with Rep. Brad Buckley and staff members of Senator Dawn Buckingham, to remind them of how critical it was to make TRS actuarily sound. “I am pleased the bill received so much support. Through the efforts of countless volunteers, within TSHL, Teacher Union Organizations and the Texas Retired Teachers Association, what began as a resolution became law.”

At the convention, the Honorable Rhonda M. Rogers, representing the Ark-Tex district, was elected Speaker for the 2019-2021 legislative term. Rogers, a retired military officer and teacher living in Paris, Texas, has served on TSHL since 2015.

Elected to serve on the TSHL Executive Committee with Rogers, are Speaker Pro Tem Dr. Sharron (Sherry) Hubbard, representative of the Concho Valley District;  Deputy Speaker Pro Tem Barbara Aydlett from the Heart of Texas District; Comptroller Barbie Butler-Johnson of the Brazos Valley District; and Secretary Pam Edgerley representing the Brazos Valley District.

Outgoing Speaker, the Honorable Walter Graham, was named Speaker Emeritus during the closing session. Graham represents the West Central Texas District and served as Speaker from 2008-2013 and again from 2017-2019. Rogers praised Graham for his dedication, commitment, and hard work for the senior population of Texas. “Walter Graham has served in virtually every office in the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature during his eight terms. His leadership has resulted in countless bills that have been passed into law and I know that he will continue to serve our senior citizens and this great State as Speaker Emeritus,” she said.

Legislation that the advocacy group has crafted in past sessions includes increasing the financial strength of the Teacher Retirement System pension plan, creating the Silver Alert for missing seniors, increasing the monthly personal needs allowance to $60 for Medicaid nursing home residents, allowing grandparent caregivers to make educational and medical decisions for a grandchild without having custodial rights, and enhancing criminal degree and fines for those who perpetrate internet Fraud against seniors.

“The work we do to advocate for and improve the lives of Seniors in Texas is totally voluntary. We are always looking for people 60 years and older to join the ranks of TSHL. It is an honor to serve and rewarding to see the positive impact we are making for seniors in Texas”, said Andrews.

To get involved with TSHL, contact Irene Andrews at, visit her Facebook page @empower60, or call Kerry Fillip, Director of the Area Agency on Aging of Central Texas at (254) 770-2344 or (855) 937-2372. Additional information is also available on the TSHL website at


Older Americans Month proclamation presented to Holland, TX mayor

Older Americans Month Proclamation

Older Americans Month proclamation presented to Holland, TX mayor

Our Community Health & Wellness Programs Coordinator Susan Burchfield presented the Older Americans Month Proclamation to Stanley Koonsen, Mayor of Holland, TX on April 29, 2019.

Led by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) each May, Older Americans Month (OAM) provides resources to help older Americans stay healthy and independent, and resources to help communities support and celebrate their diversity. OAM has been recognizing the contributions of this growing population for 56 years.

This year’s OAM theme, Connect, Create, Contribute, encourages older adults and their communities to:

  • Connect with friends, family, and local services and resources.
  • Create through activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
  • Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.

Communities that support and recognize older adults are stronger! Join us in strengthening our community – this May and throughout the year. Visit the official OAM website for ideas and inspiration, and follow ACL on Twitter and Facebook. Learn more about our resources and free classes to support older Americans on the health, wellness, and prevention page.

Senate Finance Committee Hearing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Senate Finance Committee Hearing Held on Nursing Homes Abuse and Neglect

Not Forgotten:  Protecting Americans From Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes

By Chrystal Griggs, Regional Ombudsman for Central Texas Council of Governments

On March 6, 2019, the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Grassley, held a hearing entitled, “Not Forgotten: Protecting Americans From Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes.” After opening statements from Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Senator Ron Wyden, the daughters of two nursing home residents gave heartbreaking and distressing testimony about each of their mother’s experiences – one with neglect, the other with abuse. Following their statements, five additional witnesses provided testimony:  Dr. David Gifford, American Health Care Association; Dr. David Grabowksi, Harvard Medical School; Dr. Kate Goodrich, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Antoinette Bacon, Department of Justice; and Keesha Mitchell, Office of the Ohio Attorney General.

Numerous issues were raised during the hearing, among them, Nursing Home Compare and the Five-Star Rating System, the closing of rural nursing homes, Medicaid reimbursement rates, regulations and enforcement, and staffing. Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Robyn Grant attended the hearing. She expressed concern that there was no consumer advocate on the panel who could have testified to the resident experience nationwide and provided the consumer perspective on care, abuse, and neglect. Grant also voiced disappointment that although the title of the hearing indicated the topic would be abuse and neglect, there was not a focused discussion and examination of ways to prevent and end nursing home abuse and neglect.

View a recording of the hearing on the Senate Finance Committee’s Facebook page.


Long-term Care Residents Honored During Residents’ Rights Month

Washington DC– Across the country, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities along with family members, ombudsmen, citizen advocates, facility staff and others will honor the individual rights of long-term care residents by celebrating Residents’ Rights Month. Residents’ Rights Month is an annual event held in October by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care to celebrate and focus on awareness of dignity, respect and the value of long-term care residents.
The theme for Residents’ Rights Month 2018 is, – “Speak Up: Know Your Rights and How to Use Them”– to emphasize the importance of residents being informed about their rights and being engaged partners in achieving quality care and quality of life. “We want residents to know the rights to which they are entitled, and we want to emphasize that residents should feel confident in speaking up about what is important to them,” said Lori Smetanka, Executive Director of the Consumer Voice.

The Nursing Home Reform Law, passed in 1987, guarantees nursing home residents their individual rights, including but not limited to: individualized care, respect, dignity, the right to visitation, the right to privacy, the right to complain, and the right to make independent choices. Residents who have made their home in nursing homes maintain their rights as U.S. Citizens. Residents’ Rights Month raises awareness about these rights and pays tribute to the unique contributions of long-term residents.

The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program has worked for more than 40 years to promote residents’ rights daily. More than 8,000 volunteers and 1,000 paid staff are advocates for residents in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Authorized under the Older Americans Act and administered by the Administration on Aging, the program also provides information on how to find a facility, conducts community education sessions, and supports residents, their families and the public with one-on-one consultation regarding long-term care.


become a volunteer
contact Chrystal Griggs regional ombudsman at (254) 770-2368

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. -Gandhi