State now has a separate Department on Aging

The state has officially created a Department on Aging, intended to ensure that seniors have access to the supportive services necessary to live with dignity, security and independence.

The department will manage a variety of federally funded programs at the state level under the Older Americans Act. All appropriate functions, programs and duties within the state Department of Social Services’ State Unit on Aging and the state Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman will be transferred to the newly-formed Department on Aging.

In March, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy selected former longtime state Sen. Edith Prague of eastern Connecticut to serve as the new agency’s commissioner. Prague previously was chairman of the State Senate’s Committee on Aging. Thirty people will work under Prague at the department.

Senior population is growing

Malloy said the new agency is needed to serve a growing population. “Over the last decade, the number of elderly residents living in Connecticut has grown nearly 5% and currently makes up more than 14% of the state’s population — that number is expected to grow to 21.5% of the population by 2030,” he said.

“This is why it is crucial that we have an office specifically designed to assist these residents and administer the services and programs that they depend on, day-in and day-out,” Malloy said.

Prague said the demand to serve seniors will increase dramatically in the coming years. “Having a central office to take the lead on policies relevant to our senior citizens will make services more easily accessible,” she said.