Sanders Tweet Touts Importance of Aging in Place

In a Thursday tweet, Vermont Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders advocated for his Medicare for All platform position by touting it as a solution to help older Americans age in place.

The tweet attached a story from the Washington Post describing how the state of Maine appears unprepared to deal with the demographic shifts taking place in its population, as an increasing share of its citizens have now crossed beyond the age of 65 without enough services or workers to meet their needs.

“No senior should have to sell their belongings or spend their life savings just to be able to age in place,” Sanders wrote. “Under the Medicare for All, long-term, home-based care will be guaranteed as a right to every senior and person with a disability in America.”

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The state of Maine is experiencing a demographic shift resulting in increasing numbers of elderly residents and decreasing numbers of younger workers, exacerbated by a national shortage of care workers that is driving up the cost of labor. The occurrence in Maine could be a sign of larger things to come across the United States considering demographic trends, according to the article in the Washington Post shared by Sanders in his tweet.

“The disconnect between Maine’s aging population and its need for young workers to care for that population is expected to be mirrored in states throughout the country over the coming decade,” writes Post reporter Jeff Stein, citing demographic experts. “And that’s especially true in states with populations with fewer immigrants, who are disproportionately represented in many occupations serving the elderly, statistics show.”

In 2018, the state crossed a notable threshold: a fifth of its total population is now over the age of 65, meeting the World Bank’s definition of the “super-aged.” An additional 15 states will join Maine in crossing this threshold by the year 2026, and as many as 12 additional states after that will meet the same criteria just four years later.

“Across the country, the number of seniors will grow by more than 40 million, approximately doubling between 2015 and 2050, while the population older than 85 will come close to tripling,” writes Stein.

These demographic changes will require fundamental changes to the state’s workforce, programs designed for elderly people and current standards of elder care. Maine’s relative failure to change parts of its infrastructure with its population is already straining the mechanisms of the state. The elder population is increasing, and yet many of Maine’s nursing homes are closing.

According to recent polling data compiled by FiveThirtyEight, Sanders’ approval rating among the wide pool of Democratic presidential hopefuls is second only to former Vice President Joe Biden. Interestingly, Biden’s campaign announcement earlier this year was compared by multiple late night comedians to the aesthetics of reverse mortgage industry commercials.

Read the full story concerning Maine’s elder population difficulties at the Washington Post.

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  • At 77 (in three weeks 78), perhaps it is time for the Senator to be looking at how soon and where he will retire. The climate in Vermont hardly seems suitable for a man Bernie’s age. Florida somewhere south of the panhandle might be to his liking.

    Despite his estimated $2 million in net worth, maybe Bernie needs a HECM for Purchase. No state income tax, reasonably good weather, lots of people his age, and on and on , all lead to the conclusion that Bernie could do a lot worse than Florida.

    As those who care for seniors it is great to see a Presidential field where 61% of the support in one party is for those at least 70 years old and the other already appears to have a candidate who is 73 years old. Yes, 2020 is lining up to be the year of either another Boomer (we have had 4 so far for a total of 26 plus years to date of service as President) or a generation we have not seen a single President from, the so called Silent Generation (even though both Bernie and Joe have turned up their noise switches) being elected President. Is this the youth movement in politics we have been hearing so much about over the last decade? Even at 58, former President Obama is looking really young right now.

    With 3 of the Democratic and 1 Republican Presidential candidates now over 70, all four are receiving Social Security benefits to the extent they are eligible so at least for the next four years, Social Security and Medicare benefits seem immune from being lowered for anyone who is currently older than 69 years old.

    Having lived in the heydays of Timothy Leary and Benjamin Spock (no, not Leonard Nimoy), who thought we would EVER see a President who could possibly reach 80 years old while in office? If you are old enough, you will remember the following wisdom from a very young Pat Boone: “Never trust anyone over 30.”

    If President Kennedy were alive today, he would be 102.

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