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Senior listening tour highlights older Minnesotan concerns


Seniors in Minnesota and across the country will face many social and economic challenges in the coming years as the Baby Boom Generation begins to retire in 2011. Minnesota’s U.S. Senator Al Franken sent his staff out to gather senior concerns last month and has released a report outlining those findings from 17 communities including one held in Two Harbors.

Some of the key findings that became apparent during the course of the listening tour will be used by Franken to guide legislative efforts to reauthorize the Older Americans Act when it comes before the Senate next year.
Franken’s staff found seniors lack transportation and access to vital programs, especially in rural areas; they also prefer home care to nursing homes and want more home care assistance opportunities. Seniors value flexibility in nursing home programs and are looking for more opportunities to volunteer in their communities.

Franken said seniors need to learn more about the new health care reform law and how it affects them. He also feels the Older Americans Act (or OAA) will need increased funding. The listening sessions also pointed out that senior counseling programs are valuable and often essential for end-of-life issues.

OAA funds many local services like Meals on Wheels, senior centers, senior employment programs, and caregiver support.  The programs help seniors stay in their homes, get proper nutrition, and access transportation services to get to medical appointments and other destinations.