On January 14 representatives from Kent, Queen Anne’s. and Talbot Counties attended the annual United Seniors of Maryland Legislative Forum in Annapolis and met with state legislators to express the need for state support for services for older adults and senior-friendly state policies. Upper Shore attendees also pressed the legislators for support in retaining the hospital in Chestertown.
Before meeting with Delegates Jacobs, Otto, Arentz, and Mautz, the group heard updates from state leaders including the new Senate President Bill Ferguson and learned about USM priorities, which include elder abuse prevention and the implementation of end-of-life options.
Susan Eddy of Chestertown said, “I was gratified by Senate President Bill Ferguson’s remarks on ‘priorities’ for the coming legislative session. He named three–and the second was ‘a deep look into long term care issues’. He mentioned ‘astronomical costs’ and the coming ‘senior tsunami’. He stated we are not prepared for the future numbers of seniors who will need long term care. ’We don’t have the workforce, the facilities, nor the resources….,’ he said, and noted the importance of respect for our senior residents.”
United Seniors of Maryland (USM) is a coalition of individuals and organizations that includes over two million Marylanders. USM advocates for maintaining the mental, physical, and financial well-being of all Maryland seniors. According to Elizabeth Weiglein, USM President, “We are operating among a lot of competing priorities for funds. We see the need to monitor and speak up for the resources and services needed to support seniors, a group that often is not visible. As the number of older adults increases, the amount per capita of funding at all levels is decreasing. Citizen advocacy is critical.”
United Seniors of Maryland is concerned over the deficit in State funding for senior services. “Over the past five years, there have been many cuts. The State should be paying more attention to this growing sector of our population. Instead, we have to fight just to restore prior levels of service,” said Weiglein. “Legislators need to realize that budgets reflect our values in society,” she added.
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