My aunt and uncle were already in their 50s when they took me in as a little kid after my parents split, so I was still a young man when I was able to pay them back for taking care of me by taking care of them in their old age. Because a lot of Maine families caring for older and disabled relatives face bigger pressures than I did, I’m glad there’s an initiative on the ballot this fall that will offer real help.

Question 1, the universal home care initiative, would ensure all elderly and disabled Mainers have access to professional home-based assistance, ensuring a high quality of care and relieving overstressed family members. It would be paid for by a small tax on wealthier residents, only applying to individual incomes above $128.400. That seems like a fair deal to me.

There are many older Mainers like me who have no children, or at least none nearby. To stay in our own homes and not be forced into a nursing home, most of us will eventually need home care. I’ll be grateful if it becomes available to me through approval of Question 1.

Another purpose of Question 1 is to raise the quality of the home caregiving profession by offering better pay, benefits and training to home care workers. Those are long overdue improvements for a difficult, essential and underappreciated job.

As a lifelong resident in my 70s, I’ve seen the state age along with me; we’re now the oldest state in the nation. More than anywhere else in our country, we need a sensible new program like universal home care here in Maine. That’s why this November everyone should vote yes on Question 1.

Donald Bishop

Waterville

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