Irene Andrews, 62, of Nolanville, reviews her orientation packet as the newest member of the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature. Andrews will serve for two years as an advocate on issues affecting local senior citizens.

Val Valdez | Herald

The Texas Silver-Haired Legislature is a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization comprised of about 120 elected representatives, from 123 districts, who are 60 years or older to advocate on issues concerning seniors.

Nolanville resident Irene Andrews, 62, is the newest advocate on behalf of older residents.

Andrews retired after 15 with Killeen ISD as a special education instructor, and was recently elected for the legislature’s 2017-2019 term.

She just completed her orientation on Friday and will be sworn in during the statewide orientation in July.

“I will be at the Capitol in Austin to help make sure our work, or recommendations called resolutions, becomes written into bills promoting positive change that supports Texas seniors when it comes to their health and well being,” Andrews said.

According to the Texas Demographic Center, the number of seniors living in Texas is about 3.8 million with a projected increase to almost 6 million by 2030. Currently, Texas ranks third in the U.S. with total population of seniors.

The Central Texas Council of Governments oversees the Area Agency on Aging Central Texas (AACT), and under that organization comes the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature.

Andrews said the AACT is very powerful and helpful, because it is the agency that offers services and support for seniors and their caregivers.

She personally experienced the benefits the agency offers when she acted as her mother’s caregiver for eight years.

“People need to know about this agency,” she said. “They offer free counseling and can help you navigate social services and support for seniors and for those caring for aging family members.”

A major hot-button topic with seniors, and Texans overall, said Andrews, is an increase in property appraisals, causing taxes to soar.

“When you have seniors on limited incomes that can’t afford to pay their property taxes because they went up so high, then people will panic,” Andrews said. “We need to have affordable housing for seniors.”

ut this is only one of several issues that concerns Andrews, and she will also serve on three committees, operations, education and retirement and aging.

“The director told me at orientation that I’m going to learn tons about all issues for seniors.”

As the new kid on the block in the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature, Andrews remains positive about her role as a senior advocate calling this opportunity wonderful.

“Who knows how much I’ll have an impact, but I will be a voice for my community on elder issues.”

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