Thursday, December 12, 2013
Regarding "A special report: The challenge of our age," July 21:
Mary Sweet, 81, who lives in Camden, has her blood pressure checked by Barbara Weaver, one of the people who provide her care. A reader says that a special report on aging points up the need for more state investment in training home care aides such as Weaver.
2013 File Photo/Shawn Patrick Ouellette
Kudos to Kelley Bouchard and Tom Bell of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and Paul Koenig of the Kennebec Journal for doing such a great job in reporting the struggle of the burgeoning population of Maine's elderly and the Department of Health and Human Services' failure to implement an effective plan of action to meet the present and future challenge.
Shame on Gov. LePage and the Democratic-led Legislature, who have failed to acknowledge the problem in their State of the State speeches or to take any identifiable action to deal with the crisis.
Could it be that the governor and the legislators are denying that they, too, could outlive their own resources and wind up in the solitary confinement on limited rations like so many Mainers are dealing with today?
It is my hope that in the next session, someone will step up to the plate, acknowledge the problem and propose some common-sense solutions to deal with this crisis while reducing the cost for expensive nursing-home and hospital care.
The first line of defense would be for the state to invest in more funding to create good-paying job training and employment for homemaker/home health aides.
They work under the supervision of a medical management team. Their mission is to visit the home two to three times a week to do light housekeeping, cooking, shopping, supervision of nutrition and medications and report progress or lack thereof to the medical management team.
Preventing hunger leading to pneumonia, monitoring blood pressure to prevent heart attack or strokes, supervising meds to avoid overdoses are just a few of the activities to prevent hospitalization or nursing-home care.
Cost? In the neighborhood of $10,000 a year for three visits a week.
It's time for the governor and Legislature to stop denying their own mortality before it is too late for them to do anything about it.
Kudos to the Press Herald for bringing to light the challenges of aging in Maine.
As your first installment in this series rightly points out, both the increasing numbers of seniors in our state and the complex issues that they face present a vexing but not insurmountable challenge for Maine. But as you also correctly note, a critical step in addressing it is to focus collective attention on it in a serious and sustained way.
At the John T. Gorman Foundation, we have made helping more Maine seniors age in place one of our core priorities over the next several years.
In large part, we've done so because we believe that it's the right thing to do. Supporting the ability of people to age with dignity is the least that we owe Mainers who have given so much to our state.
But we've also done this because we agree with the assertion that this is an issue which, if unaddressed today, can potentially overwhelm our state and local resources in the future.
We hope that the concerns raised in this series will help prompt a serious statewide discussion among those in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, and help advance new ideas and investments that will enable Maine to do better job at helping those who have helped so many of us.
We pledge to do our part to work with other partners to promote more thoughtful and effective approaches for addressing this important issue at the policy level and in our local communities.
president and CEO, John T. Gorman Foundation
'A joke' as a congressman, Frank insightful in column
For years I have reviled Barney Frank. As a congressman he was, in my humble opinion, a shallow, partisan fool, unable to see the truth of 2 plus 2 equaling 4, let alone to see through and beyond his partisan lens to find any merit in the arguments of those on the other side of the congressional/philosophical aisle. He was a joke, a disgrace, the "court jester."
But now, suddenly (and I do mean suddenly), everything he says (writes) makes sense. He is thoughtful, insightful, reasonable, balanced and articulate. He now shows intelligence, vision, humor and (dare I say it) wisdom. How can this be?
Could it be that having retired from Congress, he now finds himself free of the judgment and possible wrath of his constituents, and can now speak his mind untrammeled by the need to be re-elected? Perhaps the reincarnation of Barney Frank is the best argument for term limits.
Rebuff of Miss Maine USA hire a slight to LePage's vision
Bravo to the governor for his insights on education!
His desire to hire Miss Maine USA, Ashley Marble, as an ambassador for the career and technical education program was nothing less than inspired ("LePage plan to hire Miss Maine USA draws rebuff," July 20).
Working-class lads dream of a good wife, a practical education and an even break against the hard knocks of life. Ashley Marble, with her compelling story of triumph over adversity, presents just this sort of wholesome image.
Instead, the bourgeois chattering class is making the very vile insinuation that the governor's head was turned by a pretty face. Pundits who have never bent their backs over anything heavier than a computer keyboard reject the wholesome image of a Miss Maine USA, but eagerly tout the advantages of same-sex "marriage."
The worst that one can say is that Steve Bowen, a man appointed by the governor, chose not to implement the governor's decision. But even this speaks well for the governor; and the public is left with a misleading story in search of a scandal.
I sincerely hope that Steve Bowen will reconsider making Miss Maine USA a spokeswoman for working-class technical education.
Mercy, Crossroads give moms stable venue for treatment
It is heartening to see your article recognizing Mercy's McAuley Residence for providing housing and substance abuse treatment for mothers and their children ("Mercy substance abuse program helps 'Mommy be a better mommy,"' July 21).
Stable housing is the critical component that permits the mother to focus on her treatment and the needs of her children.
Crossroads has been using a residential treatment model for women and children for more than 20 years. In 2012 it received a $1.5 million federal grant to further enhance those services with clinical support, integrated medical care, case management and parenting skills.
The data shows that because of these "wraparound" services, more of Crossroads' clients are completing treatment than the national average.
In March, the Maine Sunday Telegram reported that after several years of dropping foster care entry rates, the number of children who were removed from their homes in 2012 rose ("Poor planning adds to Maine's foster care crisis," March 29).
Substance abuse is a key risk factor leading to removal. The model used by McAuley Residence and Crossroads provides an alternative by creating an environment and accessibility to services where it is possible for the mothers to do the hard work and reclaim their independence.
According to data from Maine's Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, in 2012 the estimated cost of substance abuse in Maine, including related costs of crime, death and medical care, was $1.18 billion, or $888 for every Maine resident. The cost to the next generation cannot be calculated.
Let's make our treatment dollars work double duty and cross generations. Treat the family. All in one program, all under one roof.
Polly Haight Frawley
chief of operations, Crossroads