A keynote panel will expose barriers to building longevity-ready communities at the annual Change AGEnt Summit at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday.

The afternoon discussion will feature members of Gov. Janet Mills’ administration and others to address the summit’s primary topic: how to creatively build communities where older Mainers feel a sense of purpose, belonging, and inclusion. The panel will include Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman, Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew, State Economist Amanda Rector, MaineHousing Director Dan Brennan, and Hannah Pingree, director of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future.

Lynn Major moves her belongings into her new apartment at the Milliken Heights development on March 15. The annual summit on aging at the Augusta Civic Center will honor several individuals and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of older Mainers. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Hosted by the Maine Council on Aging, the daylong summit has 300 registered attendees. The council has been holding the summit since 2014 to address a variety of financial, health and other challenges that face Maine because it’s the oldest state, with a median age of 45.1 years, according to the U.S. Census.

A lunchtime awards ceremony will recognize several people and organizations for their inspired and sustained leadership as agents of change to the benefit of older Mainers.

“Our annual awards shine a spotlight on Maine people who are quietly dedicating part or all of their careers to making Maine a healthier, safer, more inclusive place to live and work for older Mainers,” said Jess Maurer, the council’s executive director.

The 2023 recipients are Peggy Haynes of Freeport and Leo Delicata of Portland, Lasting Legacy Award; Rep. Michele Meyer, D-Eliot, Legislator of the Year Award; Dr. Clifford Singer, head of the Center for Geriatric Cognitive and Mental Health at Northern Light Acadia Hospital and a research professor at the University of Maine, Trailblazing Advocate Award; Patricia Oh of Bowdoinham, a leader of Maine’s first age-friendly community and coordinator of the Lifelong Maine Initiative at the UMaine Center on Aging, Douglas O. Wilson Rising Tide Leadership Award; and Hannaford Supermarkets, Business Excellence Award, for sustained commitment to age diversity in the workplace.

The summit will open with a panel discussion of ways to honor the gift of longevity. Panelists will include Franklin Brooks, a licensed clinical social worker; Fran Seeley, a longtime foster grandparent volunteer; and Nancy Peckenham, editor and publisher of “Crow’s Feet: Life As We Age,” a collection of original essays and poems by 30 writers who explore their fear of aging and the freedom of their final decades.

A late-morning keynote panel will discuss ageism and how to create an age-positive Maine. An afternoon visioning session will address the same question.

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