It was a rowdy, sold-out packed house on January 17 at the Civic Center in Augusta. Event organizers were forced to implement special crowd control efforts. Was it the Maine Sportsman’s Show or a Bonnie Raitt concert? No. It was the Maine Summit on Aging.
This event was not a bunch of aging Mainers coming together to commiserate about the challenges they face. Rather, it was a diverse, dynamic group of professionals and advocates who gathered to build on the momentum started by a series of Aging Roundtables hosted by House Speaker Mark Eves.
Over the course of the day, participants dug deeply into ideas about how to make Maine a place where people who are aging, aged, elderly, and just plain old, can thrive—and be seen not only as a group that needs support and services, but also as a group that is a tremendous resource to the state and our communities.
By the end of the day, which was bookended by a video opening by Senator Susan Collins and a talk by Senator and former Governor Angus King (who announced that he will be 70 in a few months), those attending had developed plans to address high priority issues and leverage the power of Maine’s oldest-in-the-nation population.
MeHAF has recognized the challenges and opportunities inherent in Maine’s age-skewed demographics. With our new Thriving in Place initiative, we are supporting eight communities around the state in developing programs that will help people with chronic health conditions stay healthy and in their homes instead of being hospitalized or having to live in an institutional setting. Each community will bring together a broad spectrum of community partners that will include health care providers, social service agencies and community support organizations.
In the words of Bonnie Raitt, who turned 64 in November, “Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste.” The Maine Summit on Aging and MeHAF’s Thriving in Place will kick-start efforts across the state to make sure that we don’t waste the collective wisdom and some of the most precious years of aging Mainers.
Note on resources: the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging has compiled great resources for aging advocates, including the 2012-2016 State Plan on Aging. Here’s a link.
Additional resources and information is available on the Maine Council on Aging’s website.
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