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Sunday, April 14, 2024
HomeCommunityPrevent Cuts - Protect Aging In The Arrowhead Region

Prevent Cuts – Protect Aging In The Arrowhead Region

Lori Kangas-Olson
Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging
Community Development Manager

Without your voice, greater Minnesota stands to lose critical support for communi­ty-based services. The Minnesota Board on Aging is tasked to create an equitable fund­ing formula. The outcome of the proposed formula would mean funding cuts to greater Minnesota; this includes 7 county Arrow­head Region. The existing formula is heavi­ly weighted on population and not need. We need a formula that works for rural Minne­sota. Locally, the cuts would affect organiza­tions such as North Shore Partners. We need your help to prevent these cuts. Protecting aging in our communities assures that our neighbors, families, and friends can age well at home. When aging in place is supported, the entire community benefits. Beyond the health and wellness benefits, community members can benefit from the wisdom that older adults can share from their life experi­ences.

The Older Americans Act (OAA) funds critical services that keep our nation’s seniors healthy and independent, including meals, homemaker assistance, chores, caregiver support, transportation, and more. Paramount to the successful leveraging of OAA funds is the requirement that these funds be the payer of last resort. States and regions have the duty of exhausting all other funding options first, and OAA services are often the only services available in our greater MN communities. Additionally, rural Minnesota lacks robust philanthropic funding or a booming network of non-profits to step in and fill gaps when needed. Therefore, it is imperative that OAA funding is allocated to afford rural Minneso­tans the same opportunities as the Metro area population.

Rural communities face closed hospitals or unreachable health care services, a deep­ened digital divide, lost jobs at industries economically anchoring rural communities, and greater food insecurity for older adults. The need for a conversation around rural ser­vice funding seems more critical than ever. The challenges to providing services in ru­ral environments include few transportation options and poorly maintained roads, older housing needing repairs, limited senior hous­ing, and limited technology in areas, includ­ing broadband. Several services would be decreased in the 7 county Arrowhead region, including Meals on Wheels, grocery delivery, trips to medical appointments, social gath­erings, and shopping. The cuts also include adult day programs, snow removal, lawn care, and respite for caregivers.

As a community that values older adults, we are tasked to voice our concern for the reallocation of funding that would decrease resources in outstate MN. How do we value and support aging in rural communities? We can do this by reaching out to our state and county elected officials regarding the intra­state funding formula and asking them to provide public comment. For easy access to state and county elected officials go to www.GreaterMinnesotaAging.org to PREVENT CUTS! PROTECT AGING IN GREATER MINNESOTA.

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