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Updated: June 14, 2022

New Maine Cabinet on Aging will tackle housing, other issues

Gov. Janet Mills on Monday signed an executive order establishing a Cabinet on Aging to coordinate and advance work on affordable housing and other issues related to Maine's elderly population.

Jeanne Lambrew, Maine commissioner of health and human services, and Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman will co-chair the new panel, supported by a staff member. It will work across state government in the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future.

The cabinet, required to meet at least four times per year, is set to hold its first meeting next month at a date to be announced.

Besides affordable housing for seniors, the group aims to address topics including long-term services and support; financial security and protection against fraud; access to information, broadband and services; and engagement and employment in Maine’s economy. 

“Maine people work hard their entire lives and they deserve to age comfortably in the communities they love,” Mills said in Monday's announcement. “With the establishment of the Cabinet on Aging, we can advance policies across state government that make sure the needs of Maine people are met as they age.”

Mills signed the order in a ceremony at the recently opened Sam L. Cohen Households at the Cedars in Portland, one of two such models of senior living in the state offering residents a home-like environment and state-of-the-art care to preserve quality of life.

The facility’s setup is consistent with models in Maine's Age Friendly State Plan, which charts improvements from housing to accessible outdoor spaces.

“The Cabinet on Aging formalizes the coordination across Maine state government that protected older residents during the pandemic,” Lambrew said. “The cabinet will build upon those efforts to continue to make Maine a healthy place to age.”

With a median age of 44.9 years, Maine's population is the oldest in the nation.

Noting that older workers are vital to Maine's economy, Fortman said the new Cabinet "is one way that we will strengthen the existing coordination of services for seniors, whatever their goals may be — including retirement or employment.

"We are also committed to ensuring that there is a skilled statewide workforce to provide quality support services for folks to age with dignity in their homes and communities.”

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