Senior living represented on MA governor's Aging Council

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Gov. Charlie Baker, left, greets Benchmark Senior Living CEO Thomas Grape, right, at the April 12 announcement of the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts. (Photo: Benchmark)
Gov. Charlie Baker, left, greets Benchmark Senior Living CEO Thomas Grape, right, at the April 12 announcement of the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts. (Photo: Benchmark)

The CEOs of Benchmark Senior Living and Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly are two of 24 people named to a new group tasked with developing a plan to improve public and private efforts to support healthy aging in Massachusetts.

Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order establishing the state's first Governor's Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts on Wednesday. The goal, he said, is to make the Bay State the most age-friendly state in the country for people of all ages.

“In addition to housing and care, we'll look beyond to issues of transportation and technology, community involvement and quality of life in the commonwealth,” Thomas Grape, chairman and CEO of Waltham, MA-based Benchmark Senior Living, told McKnight's Senior Living.

Grape said he is excited to have the opportunity to share the perspective he has gained since founding Benchmark 20 years ago in 1997. The company operates 53 senior living communities and offers independent living, assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation services and skilled nursing in Massachusetts and six other states in the Northeast.

“Gov. Baker is a long-time advocate and proponent of assisted living,” he said. “In fact, back in 1994, when assisted living legislation was being crafted and passed through the legislature, Gov. Baker was the secretary of health and human services. During that time, he was an active proponent and initiator of the legislation and had a large hand to play in establishing assisted living as we know it in Massachusetts today.”

Amy Schectman, president and CEO of Brighton, MA-based Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, which operates four affordable seniors housing communities with supportive services in the Greater Boston area, also told McKnight's Senior Living that the governor is committed to aging-related issues.

“Last month, when Gov. Baker visited JCHE, we witnessed firsthand his commitment to and understanding of the importance of aging in a community,” she said. “Since housing is the linchpin to elder security and wellbeing, we are thrilled to see housing as a key component of the executive order.”

The council is expected to deliver a preliminary report to the governor by the end of the year.

“The Council will identify current effective and efficient practices, gaps in services and opportunities to support healthy aging,” said Marylou Sudders, Massachusetts secretary of health and human services and co-chairwoman of council. “The council's plan will also include recommendations on improving public awareness of and access to services for older adults and family caregivers.”

Older adults will represent 23% of the population of Massachusetts by 2035, according to the governor's office.

Other members of the council are leaders from academia, the business community, healthcare, technology and innovation, advocacy organizations, caregivers and government. For a complete list of members, visit the governor's website.

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