DEMOGRAPHICS | July 21, 2013
The public policy initiative
The Maine Council on Aging, formed last year, is intent on enhancing the lives of our graying population.
he Maine Council on Aging was formed last year as an independent group of organizations dedicated to promoting public policies that protect and enhance the lives of older Mainers.
The Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging led the effort, supported by a $100,000 grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation of Portland.
One of the foundation’s top priorities is “helping more Maine seniors successfully age in place, which is the desire of 90 percent of people age 65 and older,” according to the AARP.
The council now has more than 25 members, including health care, long-term care, social service, and community development agencies, as well as three elder community representatives, said Jessica Maurer, executive director of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Jessica Maurer, Executive Director, Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging Thursday, May 23, 2013.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer
“Aging really impacts every aspect of society, and there was no entity looking at all of the issues facing seniors as a whole,” Maurer said. “We have formed a broad coalition of organizations that work with seniors to build a shared vision of aging in Maine and move public policy in that direction.”
Founding members included the University of New England, AARP Maine, Catholic Charities Maine, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Legal Services for the Elderly, Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine, Maine Community Action Association and Maine Equal Justice Partners.
The council was formed to:
- Advocate for underserved older adults, including those with dementia, mental health issues and other disabilities.
- Provide nonpartisan expertise on aging issues, including elders directly affected by existing policies and legislative proposals.
- Foster strong relationships with Maine’s congressional delegation, federal agencies and national associations.
One of the council’s first projects will be to develop a catalog of innovative programs in Maine and elsewhere that contribute to livable communities for seniors, Maurer said. The catalog will highlight best practices in senior housing, transportation, long-term care and other areas.
Council representatives also testified during the latest legislative session on bills that would affect seniors.
As life expectancy climbs and birth rates fall, aging populations the world over will present cultural and economic hurdles on an unimaginable scale.
One in five residents is now 65 or older, and as their numbers rapidly grow, seniors are having a profound impact on the state. Housing, health care, transportation and caregivers are already in short supply for older Mainers, and the demands for more of these critical services will escalate quickly.