Today, the Maine Council on Aging (MCOA) released the Maine Blueprint for Action on Healthy Aging. The recommendations in the Blueprint reflect the knowledge and wisdom of more than 350 professionals, public officials, community leaders and researchers who gathered at the 2018 Maine Wisdom Summit to build a plan for healthy aging.
Mainers have met the challenges of each new era with tenacious and innovative spirits. We moved rocks from fields to farm, cut timber to dominate shipbuilding, built factories to produce world class products and embraced technology to grow new business and research opportunities across many fields. As we move full-steam into the Longevity Era, Mainers are called upon once again to build new systems that can meet challenges and capitalize on new opportunities.
“While we might not agree on much this election season, Mainers can all agree on this – we all want to live healthy, engaged and secure lives as we age in our homes and communities,” said Jess Maurer, Executive Director of the Maine Council on Aging. “To do this, we need to build a cost-effective support infrastructure that is fully aligned with our care delivery systems and that leverages the power of community efforts. This is complex work that touches nearly every segment of government and our economy – that’s why it’s an issue that needs to be front and center for Maine’s next Governor.”
By 2025, over a quarter of Maine’s population is expected to be age 65 and older. 25% of people turning age 65 now are projected to need more than one year of paid support over the remainder of their lifetime. The costs of long term support services exceed the budgets of most Maine households. Medicare does not pay these costs. Maine’s workforce shortage will mean some will not find the care they need, even if they can afford to pay. For those who don’t need care but cannot drive or use a 2nd floor bathroom, they also may not be able to stay at home.
Taken together, these facts mean we may all be challenged to stay in our communities and get the care and services we need. We must act now to build a robust system of formal and informal supports and care that prioritizes low cost/high value interventions and builds across all systems – volunteer community efforts, municipal services, and social services, and health care. These efforts must also be supported by clear, coordinated state policy across multiple sectors.
The Blueprint offers bold recommendations like a legislatively created Cabinet on Aging to promote interdepartmental collaboration on aging policy and program implementation, staffed by a newly created Office on Aging. It calls for the creation of workgroups focused on integrated care, long term care reform and aligned municipal supports. It also highlights needed research and key areas for policy development. The MCOA hopes the Blueprint will inspire the successful candidate for Governor to work collaboratively with the new legislature to take these kinds of bold actions. Members of the MCOA, our partners and our funders stand ready to help the next Governor and the new legislature implement all of the recommendations in this report.
The framework for the Blueprint for Action on Healthy Aging comes from Charting the Pathway Forward: Redesigning and Realigning Supports and Services for Older Mainers, a report commissioned by the Maine Health Access Foundation.