Locals provide input to state plan on aging

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MANCHESTER, NH — Senior citizens, adults caring for seniors, and social workers provided input to a new state Plan on Aging at the City Library on November 30.  The listening session was hosted by the volunteer-led State Plan on Aging Committee, including Ken Berlin of Manchester, in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS). Mayor Joyce Craig greeted them in an opening statement.

About 50 people attended the session.

Wendi Aultman,  Bureau Chief, Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services, of DHHS, spoke at the conclusion of the session:

Attendees provided answers to five questions:

  1. What is working well in your community as it relates to aging?
    The West branch of the library and nearby Senior Activities Center, Community Policing Officer Steve Duquette, access to housing, the Service Link office at 555 Auburn Street,  access to transit, access to healthcare, the revitalization of downtown, and access to interpreters in the hospitals and courts.
  2. What is not working well in your community as it relates to aging?
    Insufficient nursing home beds, inadequate home care, insufficient home care, underpaid and unreliable home care workers, high rises with bed bugs and drug dealers in the halls, insufficient access to transportation,  difficulty in paying for food and transportation for those not on Medicaid, public transportation that only runs during weekdays, limited hours for the West branch of the library, main library not conducive to seniors, insufficient parking near downtown restaurants.
  3. How can NH better serve and support its aging population today and in the future?
    Training primary doctors and going where seniors are to assist them in preparing their durable power of attorney document, having advocates for the elderly, offering broad education to address the limited perception of and fear of aging, extending and ensuring that people with food insecurity have SNAP benefits.  Healthcare should include dental benefits and cover hearing aids.
  4. What do you need to continue living in your home and community as you get older?
    Home sharing with younger people if there were a legal way to get them to leave when it isn’t working anymore, co-housing with other seniors, have nursing students do clinical hours in home care.
  5. What can we do to reduce isolation for older adults in NH?
    Congregant meals at senior centers and community centers.

The 2019-2023 plan will help guide the state’s efforts in understanding, serving, supporting and celebrating older adults here.  As a requirement to receive federal funding for the Older Americans Act programs, officials will submit it to the Federal Administration for Community Living.

The Manchester session was one of many conducted around the state. Over 1,100 citizens have also completed a detailed survey. Printed copies of the survey were provided to attendees. New Hampshire residents can respond to the survey online.