On Jan. 26, the Maine Community Action Association released an update of its publication, Poverty In Maine. Not surprisingly, the report cited Maine as the “oldest” state in the nation due to Maine having the highest median age of any state.
What is surprising is that Maine, at 10.1 percent, has a higher incidence of seniors living in poverty than the national average of 9.4 percent. The poverty level for a one person household is an annual income of less than $10,890.
As I thought about the effect on seniors in our state, I wonder how the following issues will be addressed:
— Seniors take an average of five prescription drugs;
— Home maintenance is often deferred by seniors due to cost and their homes often become a burden rather than an asset;
— The average Maine heating cost is more than $3,300 annually;
— Seniors need housing options that meet their needs as they age;
— Even when seniors get a cost of living adjustment in Social Security, it is often offset by an increase in their Medicare premiums; and
— Transportation is a challenge in our large, rural state.
I raise these issues because the number of Maine seniors is increasing and will continue to do so for years to come as the Baby Boomers continue to age.
Is the state prepared to assist the most vulnerable older Maine citizens with those issues?
Betsy Sawyer-Manter, Lewiston
Executive Director, SeniorsPlus