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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

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For Immediate Release: January 13, 2009

Sen. Mary Easley
Sen. Mary Easley

Easley Continues Push for Department of Aging

State Senator Mary Easley is once again filing legislation, Senate Bill 23, to create an independent Department of Aging to help better address the needs of Oklahoma’s fast-growing elderly population. The Tulsa Democrat first co-authored the legislation in 2003 when she was a member in the House.

“It’s so frustrating that this issue hasn’t been given more consideration by the Legislature. Every year, it gets thrown aside on claims that it’s too expensive an endeavor or that we’re doubling up on work, but this isn’t the case,” said Easley. “The fact is our seniors have to jump through hoops right now to try to get any help on a number of issues because the services they need are spread across at least eight different agencies; and that has got to change.”

Oklahoma’s baby-boomer population, those born between the years of 1946 and 1964, is the state's largest demographic and is expected to explode within the next two years as they reach retirement age. The latest census data, which was as of July 2007, shows that there were nearly 662,000 Oklahomans over the age of 60 making up over 18 percent of the state’s population; and that number is expected to reach one million by 2010.

“With nearly one in every five Oklahomans being 60 or over, it only makes sense that we would streamline our elderly services into one agency and make getting help easier and more convenient for our senior citizens,” said Easley. “Currently, seniors have to call a hotline and listen to a string of recordings to get help; and unfortunately, many give up before getting any help. My bill would allow them to call one agency where they’d be transferred to the appropriate office and get to talk to an actual person who could address their specific needs.”

According the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Aging Services Division, Oklahoma is ranked 21st nationally in terms of its 60 and over population percentage, but is one of the fastest aging states.

“These are our parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors, the people who have played a vital role in making Oklahoma what it is today,” said Easley. “Our senior citizens should be treated with the utmost respect and care, but instead their health and livelihoods are being put in jeopardy because of bureaucratic red tape and turf wars. It’s a disgrace, and I hope my fellow legislators take a stand this year, and instead of just saying they’re for elderly issues actually show Oklahomans their commitment and pass legislation like this to help our seniors.”

Currently, there are 23 states with independent agencies for aging services.

SB 23 will be introduced in committee once session gets underway on Monday, February 2.

For more information contact:
Senator Easley's Office:  (405) 521-5590

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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