BY MIKE FESTA, STATE DIRECTOR, AARP MASSACHUSETTS
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. On behalf of the nearly 38 million members nationwide and 775,000 members here in the Commonwealth, we urge the Massachusetts Legislature to fully fund the programs and services that help support older residents.
As the aging population of Massachusetts continues to grow, so does concern over unique issues related to financial, health and long- term care needs. Both planning and action by the Commonwealth are required to make our society work well on behalf of all its residents. Adults 60 and over in Massachusetts will soon eclipse the under-20 age cohort for the first time in recorded history. In 2020, the 60-plus group comprised 24 percent of the population.
The Fiscal Year 2023 budget provides funding for vital programs and services for older Massachusetts residents. AARP Massachusetts’s budget priorities include programs and services that recognize and support the critical role of family caregivers; help people stay in their own home and community; strengthen the financial security of Massachusetts residents; and encourage age-friendly communities.
It is critical that the Commonwealth invests in these vital programs, services and budgets as they will be key in helping residents get through the long road to recovery that we all have before us.
To that end, we recommend the following:
- Full and adequate funding to provide home and community-based care that enables older and disabled persons to remain healthy and independent, including raising the income eligibility limits for basic home care services;
- Development of a long-term care continuum, that includes high quality, affordable skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, adult day health services, senior housing and home and community-based services, to meet the needs of our aging population;
- Full and adequate funding of Elder Protective Services, including adult guardianship and the Money Management Program;
- Full and adequate funding to ensure direct care workers who provide home and community-based care receive a living wage that keeps workers’ pay commensurate with the local cost of living;
- Support for family caregiver assistance, including education and training, counseling, legal consultations, respite care, adult day services, and programs that help individuals pay relatives and friends who provide care;
- Close the SNAP Gap and take steps toward a common application;
- Full and adequate funding for the Councils on Aging and Senior Centers; and
- Full and adequate funding for the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to serve as a highly visible advocate and planner within state government and a point of recourse for older residents.
AARP believes the Commonwealth must invest in these vital programs, services and budgets now. We know that with each budget, difficult decisions must be made. We also know that the most vulnerable among us must be protected.
If you would like to get involved as an advocate for AARP Massachusetts, please visit: www.mobilize.us/aarpma.