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September 16, 2015

Maine’s seniors economically vulnerable: Summit on Aging

Maine seniors depend heavily on Social Security and face greater economic vulnerability than previous national poverty numbers indicated, according to new statistics on senior poverty released Sept. 15 at the Maine Summit on Aging in Augusta..

The challenge of how to help Maine's growing population of seniors facing high medical bills while living on fixed incomes was one issue highlighted at the second annual Maine Summit on Aging, according to the Portland Press Herald. More than 500 people attended the summit.

The state and local communities must also stay focused on issues such as housing, transportation and creating a multi-generational workforce, community, business and policy leaders said at the event, which was sponsored by the Maine Council on Aging and the Maine Legislative Caucus on Aging.

Last year's summit was the first gathering of its kind in the nation, the newspaper said, and led to a variety of legislative and community efforts to address the challenges that are facing Maine because it has a growing senior population.

"(The first summit) put Maine on the map in leading on aging issues," the newspaper quoted House Speaker Mark Eves as saying. Eves is a member of the first-in-the-nation bipartisan aging caucus formed to tackle issues facing Maine. "We want to make sure we continue the momentum. We are being asked around the country what is Maine doing?"

Jess Maurer, executive director of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging, said the rapid aging of the state's population "has significant implications for Maine's economic growth and opens the door for innovation, creativity and new collaborations."

Maine is the oldest state based on median age of 43.5 years and the second-oldest based in the proportion of people aged 65 and older at 17%, according to the U.S. Census.

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