Our opinion: Mapping a state senior vision

Considering that by 2030 about one in three Pennsylvania residents — 33 percent — are expected to be over 60 years old, it is right that the state has begun working on a plan to ensure that adequate services and protections will be in place to serve that larger elderly population.

Currently, about one in four residents of this state — 25 percent — are members of that age group.

Five states already have plans in place for helping their elderly populations, going forward, while the Keystone State is one of 11 states in the process of creating one.

But while this state merits praise for pursuing its first 10-year Master Plan for Older Adults, it might be poising itself to miss some insight important to a plan like the one being prepared.

Yet, the information — insight — in question is readily available from thousands of men and women who have attained senior citizen status and whose lives’ individual directions have taken many twists and turns, information about which could be helpful not only to other seniors, but also to the men and women involved in the proposed master plan’s preparation.

Despite the many skills of those charged with the plan’s preparation, it is senior citizens themselves who are best qualified to help plan preparers identify needs plus the resources that could be helpful to seniors now and in the future.

Plan information-gatherers and preparers ought to be fanning out across the commonwealth over at least the next two months to speak directly with seniors at various places such as senior citizen centers, outside supermarkets and in other public venues to collect their opinions.

Some of the responses that they collect might bring forth new perspectives that might not otherwise be obtained.

Likewise, many seniors no doubt will not take the time to express their views through a letter to the state Department of Aging, one of the options that the state has put forth.

The master plan information gathering will conclude by the end of the year, although there will be a first draft of the plan in early November.

It is projected that the plan will be completed by Feb. 1.

Pennsylvania’s seniors should look forward to the release of the completed document next year and not be shy about expressing their opinions after learning about its conclusions and suggestions.

For those seeking to offer input, they can mail comments to: Pennsylvania Department of Aging, c/o Master Plan, 555 Walnut Street, 5th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17101. Comments can also be sent to AgingPlan@pa.gov via email.


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