100-mile Walk Will Bring Awareness Of Commonwealth’s “Elder Crisis”

EAST LONGMEADOW — Richard Pelland wants to make sure that the state’s elected officials are made aware of what he calls the “elder crisis” in the Commonwealth. 

That’s why he’s walking across the state to deliver the message personally.

Pelland, a social worker by profession and currently the executive director of Providence Place in Holyoke, began a 100-mile walk from East Longmeadow’s senior center on Oct. 23. He’s due to arrive at the Statehouse on the morning of Oct. 29, at which time he’ll present a petition to the state’s lawmakers.

“Our governor and legislators just don’t seem to understand how recent budget cuts impact their elder constituents,” said Pelland. “Their lack of a comprehensive health care plan for Massachusetts elders has created a crisis situation. The challenges elders face with respect to the delivery of health care services, housing, transportation, and other vital community services and programs are daunting.”

Walking under the banner “Elders Are Our Future,” Pelland said before he left that he expects some company as he makes his trek. He received dozens of calls in the days before he started his walk from people who share his views, some of whom promised to join him for parts of the walk, which will follow Route 20 and make scheduled stops at seniors and nursing homes.

“Elders are suffering from the fallout of sweeping decisions made by our elected officials,” said Pelland. “Massachusetts is showing it is ill prepared to handle both the current and growing future needs of our elders.”

Some of the elder-related issues Pelland will lists in his petition to legislators and the governor are:

• The lack of an overall state plan for the health care of elders;
• The impact of budget cuts on adult day health programs and state home care services;
• The need for affordable housing for elders with lower and/or fixed incomes, including assisted living services;
• Low Medicaid reimbursement rates to nursing facilities and the effect these reimbursements have on care;
• Skyrocketing pharmaceutical costs and insurance coverage; and
• Lack of community support for the care of elders, including family caregiver support.

Richard Pelland is due to arrive at the Statehouse at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 29. He can be reached during his walk on a cell phone: (978) 902-2389.

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