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Seniorgram: Sending a Message on Senior Issues

Barbara Bodzin, LifePath Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive Director

Engage at Every Age

Older Americans Month (OAM) has been observed for the last 55 years to recognize older Americans and their contributions to our communities. This year’s OAM theme, “Engage at Every Age,” emphasizes the importance of being active and involved, no matter where or when you are in life. You are never too old (or too young) to participate in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Remaining socially engaged can improve the quality of life for older adults. LifePath offers many opportunities for community engagement through a variety of volunteer opportunities. Whether it is volunteering to deliver Meals on Wheels, helping a person with bill paying, assisting with SNAP (food stamps) or other public benefits applications, providing health insurance counseling as a SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) counselor or leading an evidence-based workshop to help individuals manage chronic conditions, you will be giving back to your community through volunteering, mentoring and learning, leading and engaging.

Spring also brings the time of year when advocacy is top of mind. Legislative priorities for the state budget include increased investment in the workforce so that direct care workers and staff working in home and community-based settings are sufficient to meet a greater need for services. Elder nutrition and Protective Services are also high on the list to meet the growing need for these services. Elder Protective reports have increased 11% from a year ago.

The federal fiscal year budget passed in March, following several continuing resolutions. The good news is that Older Americans Act programs did receive increased funding. Supportive services were increased by 10%, nutrition services saw a 7% increase, funding for support to caregivers increased by 20% and evidence-based programs to help people manage chronic conditions saw a 25% boost. SHINE had $2 million restored from the $5 million cut in 2017. These increases signal that Congress heard from constituents about the importance of home and community-based services. While Older Americans Act funding has not kept pace with the number of elders and demand for services, we are grateful for these increased funding levels.

“Engage at Every Age” and make a difference through volunteerism and advocacy.