Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 15, 2012

Forum: Snyder committed to senior citizens

It's no secret — Michigan's population is aging. Currently, Michigan is home to more than 1.9 million individuals who are 60 or older, and that number is increasing steadily. Thankfully for the residents of Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder has shown a real commitment to supporting the health and well-being of older adults in our great state.

In his September 2011 Health and Wellness message, Gov. Snyder publicly supported home and community-based care for older adults and those with disabilities, and reiterated his belief that all individuals should live their lives with independence, choice and dignity.

In January, the governor also supported a critical package of elder abuse legislation in his State of the State address and then further demonstrated his support by calling for increased funding for aging programs in his Executive Budget proposal.

The Office of Services to the Aging has not seen a significant funding increase in more than a decade, which has challenged the aging network to maintain quality services at a time when the sheer number of older adults is increasing. As Director of that office, I've seen the work that Michigan's Area Agencies on Aging and the more than 1,200 senior service providers have accomplished and recognize the outstanding job they have done at meeting the needs of this population in the face of dwindling dollars.

Among Gov. Snyder's various budget proposals, he has recommended an increase in funding for the MI Choice Home and Community-based Waiver and called for transitioning eligible individuals out of long-term care facilities to community-based settings.

Both of these options allow older individuals to receive supports and services in the setting of their choice.

During a time when Michigan is back on the upswing, Gov. Snyder has committed to bringing our older population with it and I thank him for his efforts.

Now is the time for Michigan legislators to join Gov. Snyder in showing their support for Michigan's older adults.

I strongly urge all legislators to support the proposed funding increases for aging services that are critical to the well-being of Michigan's older population.

This is our opportunity to provide for those who have cared for us.

About the author: Kari Sederburg is director of Michigan's Office of Services to the Aging.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by e-mailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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