Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: January 13, 2009
Sen. Mary Easley
Easley Continues Push for Department of
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
“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
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.