Story by Van Mitchel, Staff Writer

Oklahoma senior citizens, caregivers, and those interested in matters affecting aging Oklahomans are invited to the State Capitol for Senior Day Monday, March 11.
Attendees will have the opportunity to share ideas, needs and concerns with their state lawmakers, visit with organizations and state agencies to learn about services for older Oklahomans, and learn about current legislation that may affect older Oklahomans, said Rebekah Williams
Ombudsman Systems Advocate/Liaison.
“The Senior Day at the state capitol is primarily meant for aging Oklahoma’s caregivers, and those that have a stake in our aging population, to make sure they can age well and stay in Oklahoma,” Williams said. “We’re hoping to have at least 500 attendees this year, and they get to go into the House chambers and sit in member seats. It should be an amazing day for our elders in Oklahoma.”
The Oklahoma Alliance on Aging organizes the annual Senior Day event with the Oklahoma Aging Partnership; the Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature Alumni Association; AARP; and the OKDHS Community Living, Aging and Protective Services Division.
The Oklahoma Alliance on Aging is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying the needs of aging Oklahomans, educating on issues, and advocating for solutions. It provides information and advocacy on issues including nursing homes, community care, housing, transportation, predatory lending, safety, legal rights, and quality of life.
Williams said attendees can arrive starting at 8:30 a.m. and sign in at the second-floor rotunda. Volunteers and signs will guide the way.
The event will run from 8:30 a.m.- 1p.m. at the State Capitol, 2300 N Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City. The event is free to attend.
State agencies and nonprofit organizations will be there to provide attendees information on their programs and services for older Oklahomans.
The Senior Day session in the House chamber, fourth floor, begins at 10 a.m. with guest speakers including Lt. Gov. Matt Pinell, and House Speaker Charles McCall.
“The program starts at 10 a.m. in the House chambers, and that will be until noon,” Williams said. “The Lieutenant Governor will be greeting us, and the House Speaker is going to welcome us to the House. The Senior Day at the Capitol is to empower those individuals that are aging or caregivers, those that have stake in anything, to express their concerns and what they need, and what they want to see changed.”
Williams said attendees will have the opportunity to meet with their local legislators.
“We will get them hooked up with their perspective legislator, whether it’s senator or a representative, to be able to speak to them either that day or set up appointments to come back,” she said.
Williams said legislators look forward to meeting their senior constituents.
“A lot of the legislators are very glad when these elderly people that are so faithful to show up at polls, come during election year, but at the same manner then they need to validate their vote by making sure there’s a social infrastructure within to age well,” Williams said. “Senior Day at the Capitol is a time to empower and inform and educate the seniors.”
The Oklahoma Ombudsman Program serves residents in Oklahoma’s long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living, and similar adult care homes
For the last 7 years, Williams has been an Ombudsman based out of the Southern Oklahoma Developing Association in Durant. She was appointed to the role of Ombudsman Systems Advocate and Liaison where she works as a face and voice with lawmakers and agencies to represent the residents of long-term care facilities across Oklahoma.
“In my role as a system advocate ombudsman, I am detailed to the state capitol during session to consult with lawmakers on bills that are best for people aging, or we kill the bills that aren’t best for people aging,” Williams said. “We work with different agencies, legislators, whatever we need to do to make sure that our elders are given value, and the rules and laws that are being passed, with everything within us, are in their best interest.”
All individuals and groups planning to attend are encouraged to register on the Oklahoma Alliance on Aging website:
Nonprofit organizations requesting an exhibit table, and those interested in sponsoring, may use the registration link to apply.
For more information call (405) 943-1895 or email [email protected].