The Commission on Aging recently held a Talbot County Council Candidate Roundtable Discussion at Brookletts Place in Easton on October 12 and 13 for the Democrat and Republican candidates running for Talbot County Council. The purpose of the discussion was for the County Council candidates to meet the Commission on Aging and learn more about the programs that the Talbot County Council supports for seniors in the county. Council candidates Pete Lesher, Scott Kane, Keasha Haythe, Phil Jackson, Michele Dappert, Wade Strictland, Dave Stepp, and Lynn Mielke attended.
The Talbot Commission on Aging was established in 2003 to advise the Talbot County Council on issues affecting seniors and to advocate for change. A member of the Talbot County Council sits on the Commission on Aging. Other members include Current members of the Commission are Jenna Marchi, Ellen Taggert, Lee Newcomb, Jennifer Pierson, Marion Donahue, Veda Gibson, Grace Lyons, Megan Murray, Rachel Smith, Kate Stinton, and Ex-Officios Frank Divilio, Andrew Hollis, and Childlene Brooks,
According to Jenna Marchi, Chairperson of the Commission on Aging, Talbot County’s population is aging. The county’s median age is 49.4 years of age while the state of Maryland’s median age is 38.3 years of age. The average age of the populations in Talbot, Kent, and Worcester counties are the oldest in the state of Maryland. She also reported that seven percent of seniors in Talbot County live below the poverty level.
“Talbot County has nearly twice as many seniors as it does children, but those seniors receive only a fraction of our resources. When it comes to ensuring that our seniors have adequate access to information and services, we want to make sure our elected officials understand their important needs and take them into account as they go about the business of government. All too often, our seniors get overlooked and we’re so glad that so many of those folks seeking seats on the County Council chose to participate and discuss these important issues,” Marchi adds.
The Commission shared recent data from a recent University of Maryland Shore Regional Health needs assessment, stating that area seniors identify availability and access to doctors’ offices, transportation, and housing/homelessness as the three most important socioeconomic issues currently facing seniors in Talbot County.
To address some of these needs, the Talbot County Council currently supports Upper Shore Aging, Inc., Talbot Senior Centers, Meals on Wheels, the Senior Care Program of the Talbot County Department of Health, and the Talbot County Department of Social Services. Information on these programs was shared with candidates.
Among other issues facing seniors today that were discussed with the candidates were COVID, increased isolation, less physical activity, reduced life expectancy (excess deaths due to COVID-19 and other causes in 2020 and 2021 led to an overall decline in life expectancy between 2019 and 2021 of 2.7 years for the total population, 3.1 years for males and 2.3 years for females), healthcare access, the increasing county population, closures, lack of providers accepting Medicare, and behavioral health resources (long waits and lack of providers).
Candidate suggestions included providing listening sessions on these issues, further utilizing Delmarva Community Transport with merchants to address the transportation issues, improving the delivery of healthcare in the county, and managing growth with the comprehensive plan.
For further information on the Talbot County Commission on Aging, visit talbotsenior.com.