Maine is in the midst of an aging crisis – by 2030, more than 25% of Mainers will be 65 or older, exacerbating the challenges already confronting our elders and communities. In speaking with local residents, I’ve repeatedly heard about the struggles and fears of our older neighbors as they face poverty, isolation, and a lack of access to much-needed services. After a lifetime of hard work and careful saving, it is unconscionable that so many of our elders in Aroostook County find themselves on the edge of crisis.
As a social work student at the University of New England, I’ve focused on issues related to aging. I’ve learned that nearly 16% of our older neighbors are food insecure. More than 9000 senior Mainers are on a waiting list for affordable rental housing, and studies show that these folks spend 74% of their income on rent while they wait. Many are isolated by the lack reliable transportation, and a shortage of home health care workers means that more than a thousand older Mainers are waiting for critical in-home services - two issues that force many seniors from their homes into congregate care and assisted living environments. And with a rapidly growing senior population, these problems will only get worse.
The families of Maine seniors are also adversely affected by the situation facing their loved ones – many leave jobs to provide care or spend personal retirement savings to care for older parents. The emotional and financial burnout that often occurs as family caregivers address the challenges of helping their loved ones carries a tremendous cost.
I believe that when you’ve worked hard all of your life, basic necessities like proper nutrition, appropriate housing, and necessary medical care ought not to be so far out of reach. As a candidate for the Maine State House, District 144, I’ll bring a steadfast commitment to addressing these challenges to Augusta, working collaboratively to ensure that we implement policies and programs that increase security for our seniors. I believe that we can do better for older Mainers, and I’m eager to get to work on their behalf