The “Silver Tsunami” — or as U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) prefers to call it, the “Silver Surge” — is coming.
“Between 2010 and 2040, the number of Americans over age 65 will double,” said Klobuchar in a brief video presentation that led off Tuesday afternoon’s “Supporting Our Seniors” presentation at the Detroit Lakes Public Library.
For the next hour, a packed room of local senior citizens learned more about how and where to obtain services to meet their needs, from a trio of Klobuchar’s Minnesota support staff as well as representatives of AARP Minnesota, the Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging and Mahube-Otwa Community Action.
“We track constituent feedback on a daily basis, and relay that back to the senator on a daily basis,” said Elyse Ruiz, a constituent advocate with Klobuchar’s Minneapolis office.
The senator also maintains offices in Moorhead, Rochester and Virginia, Minn., as well as Washington, D.C., added Meagan Bachmayer, outreach director for Klobuchar’s Minneapolis office.
The majority of constituents who come to Klobuchar’s office for assistance are seeking help on immigration and military/veteran’s issues, Ruiz said — but an increasing number of questions are coming in regarding Social Security, Medicare and general healthcare issues, she added.
“We work very hard to connect constituents with the resources that best fit their needs,” said Ruiz, encouraging constituents to reach out to their offices via e-mail, letters or telephone.
Erin Parrish, associate director of advocacy and outreach for AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) in Minnesota, said that her office does a lot of senior advocacy work on the state level as well as in Washington, D.C.
“AARP does a lot of work in the state that you live in,” she said. “We do a lot of work to educate our members and volunteers.”
AARP Minnesota’s Fraud Watch Network helps keep its members up to date on the latest financial scams, identity theft technology and fraud schemes.
Some “red flags” to look for, Parrish said, include pressure to make a decision within a short time frame, urging not to disclose a “deal” to anyone else, and requests for personal financial data.
In addition, she said, they will often refuse to give out contact information when the person they are calling asks to think over the request and get back to them.
“AARP also does a lot of advocacy work at the State Capitol,” and helps keep legislators up to date on senior issues, Parrish added.
One of the state issues that AARP works on is ensuring that utility rates stay low for people on fixed income, she said.
In Washington, AARP has been working hard to get the Older Americans Act, which funds social and human services programs for seniors such as nutrition services (Meals on Wheels and congregate dining), elder rights and abuse protection, just to name a few.
AARP is also working exhaustively “to defend Social Security and ensure that it stays strong and solvent for future generations,” Parrish said.
“Those are just a few of the federal issues we’re working on,” she added.
Also speaking at the forum were Darla Waldner, director of the Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging, and Karen Lenius, director of senior programs for Mahube-Otwa Community Action.