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Local seniors give input on Master Plan on Aging

About 250 people took part in the town hall meeting March 6 at the Show Me Center to offer input on Missouri's Master Plan on Aging. Photo by Gregory Dullum

Missourians are getting older. Obviously, we all age day by day, but statistics show that the category we call “seniors” or “senior citizens” is growing. There are more than 1.1 million Missourians over 60 years old, and it is estimated that older adults will outnumber minors for the first time by 2030.

To help the growing senior population, Gov. Mike Parson last year established “Aging with Dignity: Missouri’s Master Plan on Aging.”

An advisory council, consisting of legislators, state agency leaders, non-profit organizations and other community partners, has been working to create the plan. They have assessed what resources and services are already available to help the senior population.

Ten town hall-style meetings were held across the state to gather input from local seniors. One was held last Wednesday afternoon at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau. About 250 people participated in the two-hour meeting.

The following topics were discussed, along with the goals set by subcommittees. Participants passed along personal information or ideas about these areas, such as the challenges that they face in reaching these stated goals.

• Daily life and employment: Missourians will live the lives they desire as they age with access to employment options, recreational activities, and opportunities to engage in civic and social opportunities.

• Family caregivers: Family caregivers in Missouri will be adequately trained and have access to resources to provide effective care in support of the care recipient’s choices and their own well-being.

It was noted that seniors may care for their parents or other older adults (who may be in their 80s or 90s), or they go the other direction and find themselves caring for their grandchildren.

• Housing and aging in place: Missourians will live where they choose in communities that respect their desire to age with dignity in environments that are safe, healthy, and allow for maximum independence.

It was noted that the world seems to be getting more violent and unsafe. Also, as people age, they are less able to take care of and maintain their own home but moving into long-term care facilities can be very expensive.

• Long-term services and supports: Missourians will have access to a continuum of home and community-based services to help them stay healthy in their homes for as long as they desire and will also have access to safe, healthy and inviting options for necessary institutional care.

• Safety and security: The goal is to identify the safety and security vulnerabilities, including but not limited to elder abuse and neglect and financial exploitation; to assess the community awareness around these issues, and to identify systemic weaknesses impacting aging Missouri residents using evidence-based data; and to recommend improvements to Missouri’s response and support framework to foster partnerships, communication and guidance to ensure safety and security with independence and dignity for all Missourians.

• Transportation: Missourians will have access to safe and reliable transportation and mobility options so they can get to the places they need or desire to go.

• Whole person health: Missourians will have access to the care and services needed to help them live a safe, healthy life with maximum independence as they age.

Each table of eight people had a facilitator who led the discussion on each point (12 minutes were given to discuss each) and a recorder who wrote down individual comments.

These meetings were co-hosted by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the 10 Area Agencies on Aging.

If you missed this in-person town hall but would like to comment, two virtual town halls will be held on Thursday, March 21.

These meetings require a free registration in order to provide a secure link to join the call.

Visit health.mo.gov/aging to learn more about the state plan and opportunities to participate.

The plan is expected to be completed and submitted to the governor for his signature by Dec. 31, 2025. It will be good for 10 years, from 2026 until 2035.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at cashbook@mvp.net.

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