“A Portrait of Wellbeing — The Status of Seniors in Maine,” is a compelling new report created with the support of the John T. Gorman Foundation of Yarmouth.

It is not all about “wellbeing,” however, because for many elders in Maine, particularly in rural counties like ours, there are some indicators of concern in the report that we all should take note of.

Here are a few:

• In Maine, 8.9 percent of seniors age 55 and older are poor, compared to 6 percent in New Hampshire and 6.8 percent in Vermont;

• 29 percent of Maine seniors are more likely to be low-income (that is, to live below twice the official poverty line) than seniors in New Hampshire (21 percent) and Vermont (24 percent);

• For elders in Franklin County, the numbers are a little more dramatic. Ten percent are “poor,” 33 percent are low-income and also live alone;


• Good Shepherd Food Bank also tells us that 25 percent of the people who seek food assistance from area food cupboards and pantries are over the age of 60.

The aging profiles and the inherent challenges for the populations of Franklin County and Maine are clear.

There are more than 5,000 county citizens (17 percent of the total population) who are over the age of 65, more than the state average of 16 percent.

The 65-and-above age group will account for 99 percent of Maine’s population growth in the next 10 years. During that time, Maine will add 105,000 people over the age of 65.

Currently, Maine has the highest median age in the nation (43.5) and the third highest percentage of folks aged 65 and older.

So, knowing all that, it was very informative (and somewhat of a relief) for the members of the Farmington Rotary Club to hear that there is an agency — Seniors Plus — that has programs in place to support and advocate for elders.


Connie Jones, director of Community Services for Seniors Plus, gave an informative and wide-ranging update for the group. She listed the services — Medicare counseling, caregiver support, nutrition services and information and assistance.

Her message was clear:

“We need to build a community responsive to the needs of our population. This includes workers over 60, health care workers and caregivers that work. We need our community to be welcoming and accessible so that older people are able to live in Franklin County. Supporting our tax base, businesses and people over 65 are all one and the same thing.”

For many of us, nutrition services, particularly Meals-On-Wheels, is one of the most recognizable services of Seniors Plus. As Jones noted in her remarks, however, it isn’t just the prepared meals that are delivered by volunteers that are of value to elders. Equally important is the social contact, particularly for those who live alone.

The deliveries also offer volunteers the opportunity to check in on the physical and emotional status of the recipients.

So, it was discouraging to many in the room when Jones pointed out that there are only 78 Meals-On-Wheels participants in all of Franklin County.


Here is a way for all of us to help. Please give some thought and perhaps some encouragement to people we know who would benefit. Family income does not matter. There is no charge for the meal, although contributions (the average is 42 cents) are welcome.

The population, income and housing numbers speak for themselves. Isolation and loneliness are more difficult to measure, particularly among stoic Mainers.

Seniors Plus, whether through Meals-On-Wheels, caregiver support or Medicare assistance, is a vehicle that turns those numbers into opportunities for service. They deserve our support.

Irving Faunce of Wilton is the administrator of Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison. He is also a member of the board of directors of Seniors Plus.

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