Growing old brings a particular set of challenges. It’s not always fun realizing you can’t do things that you used to enjoy, and that basic tasks have become more difficult. However, with the right support systems in place, these challenges can be overcome, and the “Golden Years” can be the best years of your life.

There can be no argument: We owe it to our seniors to provide the support that they need.

This session, the Legislature took some steps to ensure seniors have access to the food, housing and care that they need, and that they are safe from scams and fraud. We also worked to lower the cost of property taxes for seniors.

Home cooked meals are something we all enjoy, and seniors are certainly no exception. This session we added funding to Meals on Wheels to ensure that more folks can take advantage of this program, which delivers meals to homebound seniors. If you think you or someone you know might qualify for this program, contact the Eastern Area Agency on Aging at (207) 941-2865 or 1-800-432-7812.

We also passed new laws that will make it easier for seniors to age at home and stay in their communities. Aging at home saves money for seniors, their families and the state, and helps maintain a high quality of life. One new law will allow spouses who care for their disabled partners at home to be reimbursed for their work through Medicaid. Two other new laws will study opportunities to increase the ability for seniors to age in their homes. Finally, we passed laws to encourage senior-friendly communities by allowing seniors who volunteer in their community to earn benefits for their work and encourage towns and cities to develop policies that encourage housing and community spaces that accommodate the needs of seniors.

Increasing access to care is another way we are working to support seniors in Maine. Seniors spend more on medical costs than any other age group, and that’s why this session we increased eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program and Low Cost Drugs for the Elderly and Disabled Program, and passed a suite of lawsdesigned to lower the cost of prescription drugs to help seniors save money on their medical bills. We also passed a law requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids.

Unfortunately, seniors sometimes find themselves the victim of complicated fraud schemes. We took action to crack down on these abuses, banning robocalls that are sometimes used to perpetrate scams, requiring reporting of suspected financial exploitation and providing relief to those who have fallen victim to economic abuse.

Another issue that disproportionately effects seniors is high property taxes. For someone to not be able to afford to stay in the home that they paid off and lived in their whole life because of high property taxes is unconscionable, and something we should never allow to happen. In addition to the work we did this session to lower property taxes for all Mainers, by raising the Homestead Exemption and increasing revenue sharing to cities and towns, we also increased eligibility for the Property Tax Fairness Credit, which will allow more seniors to get back as much as $1,200 from the state to compensate them for property tax that they paid. It’s the right thing to do and will make a real difference for Maine seniors.

If you are a senior in Penobscot County who needs assistance with food, medical bills, housing or anything else, or if you know a senior who may need help, please contact my office at (207) 287-1515 or the Eastern Area Agency on Aging at (207) 941-2865 or 1-800-432-7812. We’re here to help you.

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