Supporting Maine's aging workforce

Supporting Maine's aging workforce

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of Maine's population is 43.5 years; that's the oldest in the country.

We're second oldest when it comes to those 65 and older - at 17% - and that's expected to go up to 25% by the year 2030 as the last boomers hit retirement.

On Tuesday, leaders from both public and private sectors were in Augusta, trying to come up with ways to make the population work for Maine.

The aging population presents two problems for the workforce: more people retiring and an entire group of workers who have now become caregivers.

In its second year, the Maine Summit on Aging brought together business leaders, agencies on aging, and legislators to discuss ways of helping the aging population while protecting the state's economy.

For example, some businesses are offering flexible hours for employees who either have young kids at home, or an elderly parent; that flexibility in turn, keeps the employee coming back to work.

"We're helping companies think about how do they retain the knowledge of older workers who may be retiring so they can come back and train younger workers on jobs they may have done for 20-30 years," said Jess Maurer, the co-chair of the Maine Council on Aging, who hosted the summit.

There's also been work done on town zoning laws and property taxes to help more people build in-law additions, keeping seniors out of nursing homes or assisted living facilities which are overcrowded and costly.

"We were able in this past legislative session to pass some part of the 'Keep ME Home' initiative which had three key components," said Mark Eves, Speaker of the Maine House, "Affordable senior housing, property tax relief for seniors, and making sure we're paying direct care workers that are taking care of their seniors so they can live in their homes adequately."

Eves was named "Legislator of the Year" by The Maine Council on Aging for his work for seniors.


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