May 25, 2019
Column

Seniors to be heard at conference on aging

Do you ever wish, as a senior or a caregiver, that you could get the government to really listen to you about the important issues that affect your life? When government policy is made, do you wonder if an actual elderly person had any input? After all, the elder policies in place affect seniors’ lives and therefore should be scrutinized by the seniors themselves.

Well, you have a chance to be heard – and Eastern Area Agency on Aging is hoping you’ll take it.

You have probably heard by now that Maine is the oldest state in the nation. People often ask: What are we doing to plan for our elders? How are priorities set and by whom? What do the elderly really need?

To address these ever important issues, the second Blaine House Conference on Aging will be held 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Eastern Area Agency on Aging is looking for representatives who are outspoken and passionate about elder issues to serve as grass-roots community member delegates,” said Noelle Merrill, executive director at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.

“We have a limited number of delegate slots available, and of course, we want to make sure we fill each position,” she said. “This is a one-day event and depending on distance and travel time, there may be reimbursement and overnight accommodations available. It is extremely important that eastern Maine be represented at this important conference.”

So just what does being a delegate involve aside from knowing that you are sharing your voice?

“The 100-plus delegates from all the Maine area agencies on aging will divide up into small groups to discuss one of the selected topic areas and produce resolutions that will help guide state officials and legislators when developing elder policy in Maine,” said Merrill.

There will be refreshments and a lunch provided, as well as networking with peer delegates from across the state. This is a chance not to be missed.

These topics will be used to build policy-related resolutions, said Merrill:

. Family caregivers.

. Paid caregivers.

. Community involvement and volunteerism.

. Creative housing and assisted living.

. Elder abuse.

. Employment.

. Healthy aging.

. Transportation energy costs.

“Resolutions developed from these topics will be used to help form legislative actions in the next two years,” Merrill added. “If you are interested in being part of this important grass-roots effort meant to improve the lives of Maine’s elderly, then please give me a call at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. I cannot wait to sign you up. I can not emphasize enough the importance of this event and the value of having seniors in attendance.”

It is not often that people get to form policy that affects their lives. This is a golden opportunity to constructively supply lawmakers with an accurate and in-depth portrait of what life is like for seniors in Maine, and what needs to be done to improve the quality of that life.

“Our goal, as always, at EAAA is to help seniors live well and age well, and to have the best life possible,” said Merrill. “We can’t do that without their input of what it is exactly that they need. While space is limited, I encourage people to think about coming to Augusta. Their voices need to be heard.”

I’d like to give a very special “thank you” to the employees at the Federal Building in Bangor. In an effort spearheaded by the Social Security Office, cat food was collected and delivered to Eastern Area Agency on Aging for the Furry Friends Food Bank.

We are always running short of cat food, and the donations of the thoughtful animal lovers made a difference in some feline lives. We all thank you so much.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. E-mail Higgins Taylor at chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, e-mail info@eaaa.org or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.


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