A Portrait of Wellbeing: The Status of Seniors in Maine

from Jessica Maurer, Executive Director of Maine Agencies on Aging:

I wanted to make you aware of an important new report on the status of older Mainers released today and of an advocacy opportunity. First, the John T. Gorman Foundation issued a new report today called A Portrait of Wellbeing, The Status of Seniors in Maine that highlights economic, housing and social factors impacting older adults across 10 regions within the state.  This report creates a terrific baseline for measuring progress in these areas in the coming years.

Among the publication’s findings:
•     Maine has a higher percentage of seniors with low incomes than neighboring states: 29% compared to 21.1% in New Hampshire and 23.5% in Vermont.
•     Seniors living in southeast Cumberland County are more likely to be poor or low-income when compared to those living in other areas of the state.
•     Seniors in Oxford, Somerset, Franklin, and Piscataquis counties, as well as southeast Cumberland County, are more likely to live alone.
•     Half of Maine’s senior renters live in homes where more than 30 percent of total household income is spent on housing costs.
•     Across the state, low-income seniors consistently fare worse than their higher-income peers on indicators of well-being: they are more likely be burdened by housing costs, whether they rent or own, are less likely to be married, and are three times more likely to live alone.
Second, last legislative session, there was an effort by Fairpoint to eliminate their obligation to be the “provider of last resort” – meaning that they need to ensure landline service in remote areas where other phone service might not otherwise be available.  Landline service is critically important to rural seniors, not just for socialization and access to needed emergency services, but also for medical monitoring of certain health devises like pacemakers and implantable cardiac defibrillators.  The bill was carried over to this session to see if folks could reach an agreement on the issues.  No agreement was reached and the bill will be considered again this session.  AARP Maine has issued a petition opposing this change and is collecting signatures from folks who want to make sure landline service remains available to our most rural older adults.  I’ve attached an information sheet and a copy of the petition.  Folks can also sign the petition online.  Please consider signing the petition and circulating it to others who may be interested.

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