I have been honored to serve as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs for over 10 years as well as the co-chair of the LGBT Aging Commission and the Elder Economic Security Commission. Older adults (60+) currently represent 22% of the state’s total population and that percentage is growing. We all aspire to have the opportunity to live to a “ripe old age,” but the path each of us takes there differs greatly. The question becomes: what must we, as policymakers and as a community, consider in order help meet the needs of all our older adults?
I have focused on creating policy that promotes economic security for all and provides housing choices that are affordable, safe, and do not lead to isolation. We also need to ensure safe and high quality care in a range of settings from home care to assisted living to residential homes to nursing homes. In this regard I recently filed a bill that will prohibit caregivers who are found to have seriously abused an elder from working with seniors, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations. We must respect older adults as individuals, not as stereotypes.