Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 576: Launching the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts

Date: 04/12/2017
Issuer: Governor Charlie Baker
Mass Register: No. 1338
Rescinded by: Executive Order No. 603

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, older adults are the largest and fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and whereas those 65 and older will make up 23% of the population of the Commonwealth by 2035;

WHEREAS, the aging of the population impacts every community, and all people should feel confident that they and their families can live vibrant, purposeful lives as they grow old;

WHEREAS, older adults express a desire to live in respectful, inclusive communities, free from ageism and to be celebrated for their accomplishments and contributions;

WHEREAS, many older adults work, volunteer, and contribute to their communities through civic engagement;

WHEREAS, older adults should be able to choose to remain in their communities as they age, and whereas this requires access to a broad range of public and private programs, resources, and informal supports to promote healthy, purposeful aging;

WHEREAS, the growth of the older adult population brings with it an economic opportunity that may be leveraged to benefit all age groups;

WHEREAS, notwithstanding the opportunities that the growth of this heterogeneous population presents, older adults may face challenges related to financial security, housing, transportation, health care, employment, and social service needs;

WHEREAS, direct care workers and family caregivers, who may struggle to balance work and caregiving, provide essential care for older adults, and the demand for this care is growing;

WHEREAS, dementia represents a costly public health concern that affects 12% of older adults and their families; and

WHEREAS, a policy that promotes healthy aging requires actively engaging with older adults as contributors to the social, economic, and civic fabric of our communities, encouraging physical and psychological health and well-being in older adults and their caregivers, and creating a social environment free from ageism;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Charles D. Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § 1, Art. 1, do hereby order as follows:

Section 1.  There is hereby established within the Office of the Governor a Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts (the “Council”).  The Council shall be responsible for advising the Governor on the development of governmental policies, community resources, best practices, and informal supports that will promote healthy aging in the Commonwealth.  The Council will formulate a plan to achieve the goal of making Massachusetts the most age-friendly state for people of all ages.

Section 2.  The Council shall consist of up to 24 members, including two chairpersons.  The Secretaries of the Executive Offices of Health and Human Services, Elder Affairs, Labor and Workforce Development, Transportation, and Housing and Economic Development or their designees shall serve as members of the Council ex officio.  The remaining Council members shall be members of the public appointed by the Governor, with consideration given to the importance of participation by representatives of the business community, health care, technology and innovation, municipal leaders, the aging network, advocacy organizations, caregivers, and direct service providers focused on the older adult population.  Membership on the Council shall reflect the Commonwealth’s geographic and cultural diversity.

The Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services or her designee shall co-chair the Council.  The Governor shall designate a second co-chair from among the members of the Council representing the Massachusetts business or health care communities. Members shall serve for two-year terms at the pleasure of the Governor and without compensation.  The Council shall meet on a regularly established schedule and as often as the co-chairs direct.

Section 3.  The Council may consider conducting a review across the Commonwealth to inventory existing programs and services and to identify promising practices targeted at supporting healthy aging, family caregivers, and liveable communities.  

In the first year of its operation, the Council shall develop and propose a plan to improve public and private efforts to support healthy aging in our communities.  The plan shall set clear, measurable objectives for evaluating progress toward this goal.  The plan shall identify current practices that are efficient and effective in supporting healthy aging and recommend ways of replicating and extending these practices across communities.  The Council’s plan shall also include recommendations on improving public awareness of and access to services for older adults and family caregivers.  The Council may also identify opportunities to promote healthy aging through new programs and projects.

The Council’s findings and plan may address, without limitation, the following aspects of healthy aging:

  1. The most effective means of encouraging efforts by each municipality and region to address the unique strengths and self-identified needs of older adults and families, whether by recognition in Community Compacts or through other incentives and arrangements.
  2. Each community’s special strengths in technology, innovation, research, health care, and business, and how those strengths may be leveraged to support healthy aging and the work of family caregivers.
  3. Opportunities for improved alignment and coordination of aging and aging-related programs and policies among public and private partners.
  4. An assessment of how community-based care is provided to older adults in each region of the Commonwealth.
  5. Recommendations on changes to laws, regulations, and policies that will promote capacity building in housing, transportation, elder abuse prevention, job opportunities and training, civic engagement, public safety, caregiver support, and other aspects of age-friendly communities.
  6. Opportunities for meaningful engagement in the arts, humanities, music, athletics, life-long learning, volunteer activities, and civic engagement for older adults, including a focus on inter-generational opportunities.
  7. Policies and programs that promote respect and inclusivity and celebrate the contributions of older adults in their communities and that combat ageism and negative stereotypes about older adults.
  8. Social determinants of health for older adults such as poverty and economic insecurity, lack of affordable, accessible housing, homelessness, food insecurity, high prescription drug costs, and other health care costs.
  9. Ways to address the special mental, behavioral, and cognitive health needs of the older adult population, with particular attention to the issues of loneliness and isolation and the need to address access to mental and behavioral health services.
  10. Policies that encourage employers to identify and support employees who are family caregivers.

Section 4.  All departments, agencies, boards, commissions, or other governmental entities subject to the Governor’s control shall provide assistance to the Council by sharing information and expertise as requested by the Council.  The Council shall continue the work of supporting aging policy after completion of its report in a manner to be determined by the co-chairs in consultation with the Governor.

Section 5.  This Executive Order shall continue in effect until amended, superseded or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.

Given at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge this 12th day of April in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen and of the Independence of the United States of America two hundred forty-one.

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