Thursday, April 19th, marked yet another successful Senior Conference, the tenth consecutive conference that I’ve hosted! Though we began the day with sleet and snow, hundreds of seniors arrived at the Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School for a day of workshops, entertainment, lunch, and prizes.
The seniors were greeted with coffee, pastries and donuts before the workshops began at 9 a.m. One of the most well-attended workshops was a session with the Attorney General’s office to learn more about how to protect yourself from scams and identity theft.
Home Instead Senior Care hosted a lesson about how to eat foods that manage hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol, while the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) provided important information about protecting yourself from discrimination in employment, housing, and in public places. Seniors could also learn about how to document their lives for descendants who will want to know more about them in the future. Pat Berry hosted a yoga and cardio class, while MetroWest SHINE offered helpful information about the new Medicare cards and other Medicare updates.
In addition to the workshops, seniors also had the option of getting important health screenings for free with nurses who checked up on their glucose levels, hearing, blood pressure, and vision.
Throughout the day, seniors danced and sang along to entertainment by Ed McCarron, a pianist and singer.
But, my favorite part of the day was getting to chat with seniors in the cafeteria while everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch of chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies, finished with a sweet apple crisp. Thanks to the talented student chefs from the Assabet Valley culinary program!
We concluded in the auditorium where we heard from local and state elected officials about what they were doing to help seniors. Secretary of State William Galvin spoke about consumer protection from predatory lending, such as high interest rates on investment, and how the Secretary of State’s office can help with bad financial brokers.
State Treasurer Deb Goldberg offered information on unclaimed property, financial literacy, and the importance of savings. Mayor Arthur Vigeant of Marlborough spoke about a new senior center that I was proud to help build in Marlborough, and our combined effort to bring improved transportation to Marlborough. My colleague, Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow) spoke about how she worked to make sure the funding we secure in the state budget is distributed to seniors as well to live a life of dignity.
Representative Carmine Gentile (D-Sudbury) talked about funding in the budget for seniors and his efforts to work on homelessness prevention for seniors.
Finally, Assistant Secretary Carole Malone from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs spoke about the Baker-Polito administration’s efforts to provide livable communities, prevent elder abuse, and promote healthy aging in inclusive communities.
We concluded the conference by making sure we gave away all of our door prizes, which included a $300 gift card, a coffee maker, gift baskets, two wide-screen televisions, and reclining chair.
In my final remarks at the senior conference, I highlighted the fact that as the fastest growing population in the country, older adults face immense challenges such as lower retirement savings, record unemployment, high health care costs, and a lack of housing opportunities. That’s why I believe that the support of seniors, especially those who are low-income, has to be a priority for the legislature.
Throughout my tenure in the State Senate, I have been a strong advocate of legislation that promotes the health and livelihood of our senior community. Each year, I work with my colleagues to make sure that we fund Councils on Aging. These municipal agencies provide a variety of services, including health screenings, meals, transportation, fitness, recreation, and lifelong learning.
Additionally, during the ongoing legislative session, the State Senate has taken some important steps to address housing issues including one specific to seniors. Last year, we passed legislation providing property tax breaks for low-income seniors. The bill allows a city or town to expand the existing property tax deferral for senior citizens.
I strongly believe that we must support seniors throughout the Commonwealth to live longer, productive, and independent lives. In order to do so, we must ensure that older adults in Massachusetts have access to quality healthcare services and affordable housing options, and invest in programs like home care services and transportation services that promote independent living.