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Shapiro, Kavulich unveil 10-year 'roadmap' to improve senior services in Pennsylvania

Susan Tachau, who serves on the advisory council for Montgomery County Office of Senior Services, takes a sefie with Gov. Josh Shapiro on Friday at Generations of Indian Valley in Souderton, Montgomery County. Shapiro was joined by Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich, along with state and local officials, to formally unveil 'Aging our Way, PA,' a 10-year strategic plan designed to streamline and enhance services for older adults. The report was commissioned by Shapiro last May in recognition of the fact that 1 in 3 Pennsylvanians will be 60 or over by 2030.
Roger DuPuis
/
WVIA News
Susan Tachau, who serves on the advisory council for Montgomery County Office of Senior Services, takes a sefie with Gov. Josh Shapiro on Friday at Generations of Indian Valley in Souderton, Montgomery County. Shapiro was joined by Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich, along with state and local officials, to formally unveil 'Aging our Way, PA,' a 10-year strategic plan designed to streamline and enhance services for older adults. The report was commissioned by Shapiro last May in recognition of the fact that 1 in 3 Pennsylvanians will be 60 or over by 2030.

An estimated 1 in 3 Pennsylvanians will be 60 or over by 2030, outnumbering every other age group in the state, surpassing 3.8 million people.

Gov. Josh Shapiro on Friday formally unveiled a 10-year strategic plan called "Aging Our Way, PA," which is designed to serve as a roadmap for providing older adult services in Pennsylvania. It addresses everyday issues such as healthcare, transportation, housing, long-term care and social connections.

The governor also has proposed $11.7 million in his 2024-25 budget for the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) to begin implementing the plan and to bolster existing programs.

"The goal was to build a roadmap to meet the needs of Pennsylvania's rapidly growing senior population for years to come," Shapiro said during a kickoff event at a nonprofit active adult center in Souderton, Montgomery County. "One that works to tie together all of the different and important services seniors need and to chart a path toward a future where everyone in Pennsylvania can age with dignity, where we treat our seniors with the respect that they have earned."

Shapiro said the plan will bring together services and investments from 29 different Commonwealth agencies.

"Now it's under one roof under one plan, and we've got a clear direction on how we're going to deliver that help. We're going to ensure that caregivers have the training, support and compensation they need to do important jobs."

Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich speaks about the new 'Aging Our Way, PA' report during its unveiling in Montgomery County on Friday as Gov. Josh Shapiro listens.
Roger DuPuis
/
WVIA News
Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich speaks about the new ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​'Aging Our Way, PA' report during its unveiling in Montgomery County on Friday as Gov. Josh Shapiro listens.

The plan was commissioned in response to an executive order Shapiro signed last May in Lackawanna County, home to state Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich.

In crafting the document, PDA consulted with other agencies and outside organizations, stakeholders in 67 counties, the state's 52 Area Agencies on Aging — and most importantly, he said, it took into consideration the responses from over 20,000 people, including older adults and caregivers, drawn in part from over 200 listening sessions.

“We are grateful for Gov. Shapiro’s recognition of the needs of Pennsylvania’s older adults and his support to direct us in crafting a plan that will benefit us all,” Kavulich said.

“We know our Commonwealth’s older adult population is growing faster than any other demographic. And with that comes opportunities to evaluate how living as an older adult in the Commonwealth is now and how we can make it better in the future," he added.

What the plan includes

According to state officials, the plan's goals are broken down into three levels of details: five priorities, which are the biggest themes; 36 strategies, which are middle-level guiding ideas; and 163 tactics, which are specific actions with clear results. The plan’s five priorities are:

  • Unlocking Access: Designing and offering fair, affordable options and opportunities for all older adults to age in a healthy and active way, no matter what their situation is.
  • Aging in Community: Eliminating barriers so older adults can age in their own homes and communities while being comfortable living in familiar surroundings.
  • Gateways to Independence: Promoting safe, accessible, convenient transportation regardless of personal mobility.
  • Caregiver Supports: Building supports and resources so people who take care of others have the help, training and rest that they need.
  • Education & Navigation: Leading a network of community partners to promote services so that information about helpful services is easier for older adults to find.
Gov. Josh Shapiro holds up his newly signed copy of 'Aging Our Way, PA' during a ceremony this afternoon at Generations of Indian Valley, Souderton. Among those gathered for the event are Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich, to Shapiro's left.
Courtesy Office of the Governor
Gov. Josh Shapiro holds up his newly signed copy of 'Aging Our Way, PA' during a ceremony Friday afternoon at Generations of Indian Valley, Souderton. Among those gathered for the event are Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich, to Shapiro's left.

Helping residents age in place

Shapiro said the plan will be a living, working document.

"I don't enjoy having reports written that end up sitting on a shelf somewhere," the governor said. "This is a report that's going to sit in the middle of the conference table, and something that we're going to be able to refer back to year after year after year well into the next decade, operating as a roadmap for how we're going to effectively deliver services for seniors all across Pennsylvania."

Shapiro and Kavulich were joined at Generations of Indian Valley in Souderton by state and local lawmakers, as well as representatives of AARP Pennsylvania and the United Way of Lehigh Valley.

"Supporting older adults is not merely a duty; it is a testament to the values of compassion, respect and gratitude that define our community,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Jamila Winder, who described being primary caretaker for her mother, father and grandmother.

"I have lived through the challenging and humbling experience of caring for seniors. I have deep support and gratitude for Governor Shapiro's prioritization of community, independence, dignity and respect for older adults in the Aging Our Way 10-year plan," Winder said.

Kavulich a veteran employee of the Lackawanna County Human Services Department, became director of the local Area Agency on Aging in 2016. He was appointed to Shapiro's cabinet last year.

He praised Shapiro for his commitment to the plan and its execution and believes it will be vital for residents who want to age in place.

"No one is choosing to live anywhere else but their community, whether it be in their home, or another living environment. They want to stay in community settings. They want to stay among their friends and family and loved ones," Kavulich said.

"And we want to make sure that that's the reality in Pennsylvania."

'Now is the time to invest'

The event also gave Shapiro an opportunity to promote his $48.3 billion dollar budget proposal, which he argues is feasible given that the state has been fiscally responsible, leading to the accumulation of a $14 billion surplus.

Negotiations in Harrisburg are set to get underway in earnest with the new fiscal year starting July 1.

Shapiro told the audience in Souderton that even if his budget was adopted in full, the state would still have an $11 billion surplus.

“We've been fiscally responsible. But now is the time to invest. Now is the time for Democrats and Republicans alike to come together," Shapiro said. "And not only prove in these polarizing times that we can govern in a bipartisan way as we proved last year, but to show that we give a damn about our seniors.”

Roger DuPuis joins WVIA News from the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. His 24 years of experience in journalism, as both a reporter and editor, included several years at The Scranton Times-Tribune. His beat assignments have ranged from breaking news, local government and politics, to business, healthcare, and transportation. He has a lifelong interest in urban transit, particularly light rail, and authored a book about Philadelphia's trolley system.

You can email Roger at rogerdupuis@wvia.org