One of the best parts of serving our community in the Maine House of Representatives is connecting with local folks who are doing incredible work right here in Old Orchard Beach and nearby communities.

I was reminded of this recently when I had the opportunity to tour the Sam L. Cohen Adult Day Center. The Cohen Center is located in Biddeford and serves our region as a program of the Southern Maine Agency on Aging. The center has a dedicated staff and, incredibly, more than 50 volunteers who dedicate their time weekly to assist with and care for clients.

For older adults and their loved ones, balancing social, safety and other needs can be extremely challenging. That is especially true when a family member is living with a diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. When you add in work obligations, kids and other responsibilities, it can seem impossible to meet everyone’s needs.

That’s where services like those offered by the Cohen Center come in. The center provides a safe environment for members to socialize, allowing them to enjoy themselves and gives their caregivers an opportunity for respite. The center also provides assistance for caregivers, including classes, forums and support sessions.

These types of support and assistance are crucial, as they help older adults who experience memory loss to stay in their own homes or age in place, which is what most of us want as we get older. Here in Old Orchard Beach, the OOB Community Friendly Connection partners with the Cohen Center to make sure residents are aware of and can access the services they need to make aging in place possible.

The OOB Community Friendly Connection, or the OOBCFC for short, is an outstanding example of our community’s character. The OOBCFC is a collaborative effort of our local government, the Chamber of Commerce and organizations throughout OOB. The group works to ensure our community is vibrant, inclusive and a great place for all of us to live, work and play throughout every stage of life.

The relationship between the Cohen Center and OOBCFC represents community partnerships at their finest. I am so proud to be a part of a community that values our neighbors and works to connect each other with amazing resources like these.

At the State House, I’m pleased to be cosponsoring a bill to support the creation of similar resources across the state. LD 1958 would expand the Tax Increment Financing program to help more communities benefit from adult day centers. With our state facing dual challenges in the form of an aging population and an increasingly serious workforce shortage, increasing access to resources like the Cohen Center is going to be imperative.

If the Cohen Center’s services sound like they might be helpful to you and your family, consider calling 207-283-0166 or visiting smaaa.org for more information. Even if you are not looking for adult day center services, the Southern Maine Agency on Aging offers a number of other resources that may be right for you. If you are interested in the work of the OOBCFC, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OOBCFC/ or call Louise Read, OOBCFC chair, at 207-934-5714 ext. 1526.

Rep. Lori K. Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach, is serving her first term in the Maine House. She is a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, where she works on issues such as preventing beach erosion and improving water quality.

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