South Portland panel assessing seniors' needs

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The recently created Ad Hoc Senior Advisory Committee has papered the city with about 600 “thank-you seniors!” signs in advance of mailing out an age-specific needs assessment survey.

The survey of approximately 20 questions will ask residents age 65 and older what they need to live in South Portland. It will be mailed around Nov. 17; recipients are encouraged to respond as soon as possible.

City Councilor Maxine Beecher, who is also a committee member, said the survey will ask such things as the location of the respondent’s residence, and the things the individual would need to continue to safely live there. Examples could be access to transportation, or help with legal problems.

“The end goal is to determine unmet needs in our valued senior population and to assist them aging happily in our community,” co-Chairwoman Joan E. Herzog said in a Nov. 3 press release. 

The signs, and several electronic billboards, are also an effort by the committee to give credit to senior citizens for their contributions to the community. 

“In September, Money magazine named South Portland one of their ‘100 Best Places to Live in the United States for 2017.’ We recognize the contributions our seniors have made in creating our healthy, livable community. Their efforts over the decades have given South Portland continued clear skies, good schools, low crime, ethnic diversity, a healthy economy and great neighborhoods in which to raise our families,” Beecher said in the press release.

The City Council created the Senior Citizen Advisory Committee Aug. 21 in an effort to improve the lives of the city’s elders.

Besides the needs assessment, the panel will identify programs in place for seniors, identify gaps between needs and available services, and determine partnerships and options that would help meet their needs. It will also develop a strategy to tell seniors about the programs available for them, and make recommendations to the council. 

Other members of the committee include co-Chairwoman Meredith Tipton, Councilor Susan Henderson, Elizabeth Ross-Holmstrom, Cathy MacDonald, Sheila Szafran, Adele Edelman, and Kathy Babeau. 

“We hope the information gathered from the completed, returned-by-mail surveys will give the committee a clear sense of problem areas and will help us create a thorough plan of action to improve the lives of our older neighbors. This, in turn, will enhance the lives of everyone in South Portland,” Beecher said.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or msochan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

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