All Mainers should be aware of L.D. 1684, An Act to Invest in the Health and Wellness of Older Maine Residents by Expanding Coordinated Community Programming, and I hope they’ll feel compelled to contact their legislators to support it.

Maine has long been recognized as one of the oldest states in the nation, yet we’re significantly lacking the resources to support our older population. At the Southern Maine Agency on Aging – and at our partner area agencies on aging around the state – we spend much of our time connecting older adults with critical services in our communities.

Take the example of Evelyn, who is in her late 80s, has mild cognitive issues and spent several weeks in a rehabilitation facility following a medical event. Evelyn had been receiving Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, but upon returning to her home, she discovered her Supplemental Security Income had been terminated. This left her worrying that she would be unable to pay her rent and cover other expenses. After being connected with a Southern Maine Agency on Aging case manager, she was able to understand that SSI is interrupted if a person is in a facility for more than 30 days, and, with the support of her case manager, got her SSI reinstated and was able to pay her bills and remain in her apartment.

Evelyn’s is just one example of the hundreds of situations our staff members navigate on a regular basis, and the vital role they play in the lives of older Mainers. There are currently hundreds of older adults who would benefit from having a case manager to support them with basic needs that many of us take for granted, such as physical and social health, food security, housing and transportation. The reality is that right now we don’t have the capacity to support all of them.

Over the last several years, we’ve seen the need for these services increase exponentially. We’re receiving a larger number of calls from individuals suffering the effects of the housing crisis who are navigating evictions and the struggle to retain affordable housing. This situation is urgent, and it’s not going away. Case managers play a crucial role in negotiating the complexities of these situations, and anyone in need should be able to easily access this assistance.

L.D. 1684 will provide critical funding to expand access to case management and navigation services for older adults across the state. It will allow more Mainers like Evelyn to stay healthy, to stay in their homes and to remain active and engaged in the communities we all call home.

The time is now. The situation in Maine will only get worse as more people age, the housing crisis continues and the cost of living increases. There already is tremendous pressure on the system, but L.D. 1684 could help alleviate that pressure to better serve older Mainers around the state.

I encourage Mainers to reach out to their legislators today and ask them to support L.D. 1684.

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