My Platform: Our state’s senior population is expected to double by 2030. For many, isolation and dependence are the defining characteristics of their lives: children and grandchildren have moved away or are caught up in their own lives, spouses are deteriorating physically and mentally, and friends have relocated or passed away. Instead of being able to focus their energy externally, by benefiting their communities through sharing of their wisdom and life experiences, the energy of our seniors all too often is focused internally. It is focused on the logistics of getting to and from doctors’ offices and stores, seeking help paying bills and keeping accurate financial records, and trying to remember which medications to take and when to take them. This internal focus impairs the ability of our seniors tocontribute as much as they would like to the economic and cultural life of our community and state.
I therefore call for the creation of a statewide Senior Connection Program, somewhat modeled after our wonderful Montgomery County Senior Connection effort, which would galvanize our state’s residents. These residents would, on a volunteer basis, help seniors get to and from medical appointments, to and from shopping trips, pay their bills on time, maintain accurate checkbooks and other records, assure that their medications are taken properly, and the like. It would be like the Peace Corps but, instead, would focus its service upon some of our most physically and economically vulnerable neighbors. This would free up our seniors emotionally and logistically to live independently and re-enter the workforce or participate in voluntary endeavors as they would so deeply like to do.
And I would further work to equalize the tax exemption for Maryland seniors so that both senior filers and their senior spouses each would be able to claim a $6,400 annual exemption which, under a quirk in current law, only the filer's dependent may now claim.
My Experience: My parents live in Leisure World; I therefore know at a personal level the needs of our District’s largest concentration of seniors. As Vice President of The National Mentoring Partnership, I worked nationally to help create state level volunteer programs on behalf of our nation’s inner city teens in states throughout our country.
I am therefore well positioned personally and professionally to be a leader of legislative efforts in Annapolis to launch a new statewide initiative to help our seniors live independently.