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Abeler, Benson and Housley Named Public Officials of the Year

LeadingAge Minnesota named Senator Jim Abeler (Anoka), Senator Michelle Benson (Ham Lake) and Senator Karin Housley (Stillwater) as its 2017 Public Officials of the Year. The announcement was made during last week’s Annual Meeting & Leadership Forum, and we were pleased Senator Housley joined us in person to receive the award. 

The Public Official of the Year award recognizes individuals who went above and beyond the normal call for action and truly made a difference in long term care, the lives of aging Minnesotans, and those who provide them with care, service and support. 

“I am truly honored to receive this award,” said Senator Karin Housley. “Without people like you and Danielle Lesmeister, who received your Spirit of Advocacy award, lawmakers would not have the innovative ideas or information they need to better understand the issues facing you and the seniors you serve. My priorities in the year ahead focus on issues that matter to you: elderly waiver reform, staffing solutions and protecting vulnerable adults. I encourage you all to contact your lawmakers to educate them on these issues.” 

The three Senators were recognized for their collaborative efforts to reform how the state cares for aging Minnesotans who rely on assisted living and home and community-based services, enhance protection of vulnerable adults, and support workforce development strategies to address the shortage in professional caregivers.   

“The Minnesota Senate entrusted one of the most complex areas of state policy, health and human services, to these three individuals. Their work last session is a testament to the good that can happen in public policy when people work together with a shared vision and goal to better the lives of those we serve,” said Mark Anderson, Chair, LeadingAge Minnesota Board of Directors. “Their leadership and commitment to help seniors age in place, close to family and connected to community, laid the groundwork for what will be continued reform in home and community-based services that meets the growing and evolving needs of Minnesotans as they age.” 

Minnesota’s senior population is expected to grow by 56 percent over the 15-year period between 2015 and 2030. To serve our fast-growing senior population, Minnesota will need at least 25,000 additional professional caregivers over the next decade. 

“It’s going to take a lot of us – seniors, families, caregivers, communities and legislators – working together to create a continuum of service and care that helps seniors preserve their quality of life for as long as possible,” Anderson said. “With Senators Abeler, Benson and Housley at the helm, we are confident Minnesota will be better prepared to meet the growing and needs of its aging population.” 

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