Providing solutions and supporting our state’s aging demographic.
In my first term of office I was assigned to the Older Adult and Aging Services Committee and continue to serve on that committee during my third term. My professional background is in providing housing and services for older adults, in particular, older adults with limited income.
My professional experience provides me the opportunity to assess, develop and promote policies to best serve our older citizens, and at times, prevent policies from becoming law that could prove detrimental to our seniors.
Over the past 5 years there have been a number of initiatives that have reviewed the need for policy change, enhancement or development related to the provision of housing and services for seniors.
The PA Supreme Court formed an Elder Abuse Task Force and is in the process of making recommendations. In 2014 the Joint State Government Commission convened the Long Term Services and Support Advisory group to evaluate needs and gaps in service by region.
I was a member and active participant of this advisory group and the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee is reviewing the recommendations from this report too.
The PA Long term Care Council has also been recently formed and I have been appointed as a representative from the PA House. The legislation that created the council included my language to ensure that consumer and caregiver representation would be appointed to the council.
Pennsylvania’s aging demographics clearly point to the need for a viable and seamless long-term care infrastructure. This council will be an invaluable resource to guide the legislature and other public policymakers on important issues related to programs and services for our older citizens.
The older adult statistics in our commonwealth compel us to be on the cutting edge of policy development and implementation. We rank 4th in the country with the percentage of older adults 60 years of age and older. The fastest growing group of older adults are those 85 years of age and older.
One ongoing concern of consumers of services and caregivers who often need to help to put services in place is that the ‘system’ is difficult to understand and to navigate. Please know that one of my goals as a State Representative is to ensure that policy initiatives do not further complicate the current system and in fact work toward making the continuum of services as seamless as possible.
Our 56th Town Hall meeting in May featured Secretary of Aging, Teresa Osborne and her remarks echoed the need to work towards the delivery of services and housing options that are affordable at all income levels.
It was also good to hear her give a particular shout out to the ‘Village’ concept. There are a number of ‘Village’ movements in Pennsylvania and the East Falls Village, established in 2011, is the local movement that aides older adults to be able to remain in their own homes. Their website www.eastfallsvillage.org provides information about how to become a member.