“Happenings” Around the Country: Maine Governor Mills Announces $2.5 Million to Expand Support for Older Adults and Caregivers

State Agency Press Release- From the Office of Maine Governor Janet Mills

January 8, 2024

Led by the Governor’s Cabinet on Aging, the initiative will develop and pilot a first-of-its-kind statewide integrated program to connect older adults and their caregivers to aging resources in their community

Governor Janet Mills today announced an investment of $2.5 million in Federal funds to develop a first-of-its-kind statewide initiative to connect older Maine people to resources in their community to help them safely age in place.

The initiative, led by the Governor’s Cabinet on Aging, will connect older adults and caregivers to resources through state, regional, and local partners by developing community-based navigator programs across Maine, in partnership with the University of Maine Center on Aging and Maine’s Area Agencies on Aging. Funding for the initiative comes from American Rescue Plan Act, as approved by the Federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Maine has long been a national leader in endorsing principles that promote healthy, active, and engaged aging. Under Governor Mills Maine was designated an AARP “Age Friendly State.” Today, Maine leads the country with more than 80 official Age Friendly designated communities, with an additional 50 communities engaged in similar efforts to support sustainable living for older people.

“Knowing you can age safely and with dignity in your home and community provides an important measure of comfort and security for many older Mainers. That is why my Administration is so focused on supporting older Mainers and their caregivers,” said Governor Janet Mills.

“This new initiative is another tremendous step forward in our effort to ensure that older Mainers have the resources and support to age safely in the places they love. I thank the Biden Administration for their investment and the many partners across Maine who are working to make this initiative possible.”

“The recent storm is a reminder that neighbors helping neighbors is one of the most effective ways to support older residents to live independently and thrive,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “This investment in community connections should yield long-run savings by preventing unnecessary hospitalization or nursing home care. Supporting older Mainers in their homes and communities benefits them and strengthens our state.”

“We are thrilled to have the federal government recognize the grassroots work going on in Maine and the importance of investing in community partnerships. It represents a demonstration of their confidence in our ongoing work,” said Elizabeth Gattine, Cabinet on Aging Coordinator and Senior Policy Advisor in the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future. “The pilot program will support and extend the critical work already going on across the State in the age friendly space to create inclusive and livable communities where Mainers of all ages can thrive.”

“We’re delighted to see this pilot program opportunity come through for Maine to support the important work of our Age Friendly Communities across the state. While Maine has long been a leader in this area, this pilot will fortify efforts that are underway bringing attention and support to the work, and making a significant difference,” **said Noël Bonam, Maine’s AARP State Director. “In the oldest state in the country, this work is key to supporting older citizens in addressing their biggest challenges.”

“Maine’s Agencies on Aging provide services, education, and connections that address the changing needs of older adults in our communities,” said Megan Walton, CEO of the Maine’s AARP State Director. “The well-being of older adults and caregivers is at the center of what we do, and we are thrilled to build our partnerships with age-friendly and lifelong communities across the state. These volunteer organizations provide so many vital services to local constituents, and we aim to build stronger relationships so that we can all work together for the health and equity of our older adult population here in Maine.”

“The UMaine Center on Aging is excited for the opportunity to deepen our collaboration with Maine’s Age-Friendly, Lifelong Communities,” said Patricia Oh, Senior Program Manager at the University of Maine Maine’s AARP State Director. “The organizations and volunteers leading these initiatives are transforming their communities for the benefit of people of all ages. This represents a significant investment and UMaine is honored to be part of this initiative in partnership with the Governor’s Cabinet on Aging.”

Through this initiative, community navigators will assist older adults and their caregivers across the state in accessing information and finding resources that address areas of concern for an aging population, including transportation, food, chores, social connectedness, and sustainable living.

Specific aspects of the initiative will include:

  • Creation of a training program designed to provide core education, resource awareness, technical support, and leadership development for people who take on the role of navigator in their community.
  • Development and deployment of a pilot program of the navigator program with 2–3 navigators in each of the five Area Agency on Aging Service areas in Maine. The responsibility of the navigators will be to connect residents to services and programs that can help them continue to age safely and comfortably in their community and to connect residents to supports that reduce isolation.
  • Technical assistance and financial support for communities in the pilots as well as other livelong community initiatives that improve access to critical services or social opportunities.
  • Financial support dedicated to bridging the communications, referrals, navigation, and resource-sharing between the five Area Agencies on Aging (AAA’s) in Maine, towns/municipalities, and Maine’s Lifelong and Age Friendly communities.

Governor Mills created the Cabinet on Aging by executive order in 2022, in acknowledgement of Maine’s median age as the oldest state in the nation. The Cabinet on Aging helps Maine prepare for and address these demographic changes by advancing policies that will support Maine people in aging safely, affordably, and in ways and settings that best serve their needs. For more about the Cabinet, please visit its website.