As a senior working in senior care and contemplating my own future, I have watched as more facilities have popped up to serve seniors needing independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care. These are often beautiful, they compete for clients, and the cost to live in them is financially challenging. Less posh facilities are often depressing but still quite costly.

Meanwhile, and with some reason, state regulations to ensure that all seniors in care are looked after appropriately have multiplied to the point where the time required to respond to oversight checklists actually detracts from the care itself.

Costs for care rise and eat up the resources of elderly in care and of families that subsidize it. Predictably, fewer individuals will have enough saved or in retirement assets to pay these costs in the future.

Despite the high cost of care to recipients, caretakers are poorly paid, making some senior companions unable to support themselves without assistance. The work is often physically difficult, requiring sensitivity, adaptability and creativity. Job insecurity and poor compensation make working in the industry a difficult choice, whether you love it or just need a job.

As a result of my experience and my recognition that the care of our seniors requires more and more resources – financial, human and environmental (senior care communities generate a huge amount of food, medical and plastic waste) – I urge Maine legislators to support L.D. 653, “Resolve: To Establish the Task Force To Study Opportunities for Improving Home and Community-based Services.”

To respond to our aging population and its effect on our communities and the planet at large, it is crucial to undertake a thoughtful, critical review of how we care for Maine seniors and what the best options are for providing care most efficiently, economically and effectively.

Penny Altman

South Portland


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