By Associated Press - Friday, January 17, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Senior-friendly communities that facilitate access to housing, transportation and health services was the top recommendation Friday as hundreds of Maine residents gathered to explore ways to deal with challenges facing the state due to its aging population.

House Speaker Mark Eves, of North Berwick, hosted the Aging Summit at the Civic Center in Augusta. He pointed to Saco as one of three cities across the country to adapt the aging-friendly model.

And what’s good for seniors is good for young adults, too, he said.

“What’s amazing about this model is that these are the exact same things that appeal to young families with children,” Eves said. “A mother pushing a stroller is looking for the same conveniences as grandparents. Like seniors living on a fixed income, young people just starting out in their careers need low property taxes and rent. There is an important nexus here between both adjusting to our aging demographic and attracting new young people.”

The goal was to come up with policies concerning the aging population, like creating new housing and transportation options and developing ways to attract young workers to the state.

Maine has the nation’s highest rate of baby boomers, at more than 29 percent, and the oldest median age, at 43. By 2030, one in four Maine residents will be over the age of 65, Eves said.

A report with recommendations will be released in the coming weeks.

The summit’s recommendations are expected to include strengthening protections against elder abuse and financial exploitation, along with promoting business models that keep older workers on the job and use their knowledge and experience to train new workers.

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