Healthy Living for ME’s Community Health Needs Assessment survey is open online through Wednesday, July 14, to all Mainers 18 years and older.

MAINE, USA — Maine has a reputation for housing one of the oldest median age populations in the country, and some projections indicate the older adult population is only continuing to grow.

That’s why some experts say keeping up with the needs of Mainers is essential to be proactive. That’s the goal of a new statewide project.

Healthy Living for ME’s 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment is designed to coordinate and provide the skills and resources adult Mainers need to help improve health and wellness. Healthy Living for ME partners with health care providers and community groups to improve health and wellness statewide. It represents the state’s five area agencies on aging. 

“The projections are showing that Maine as a state, our median age, the older adult population, is growing dramatically, so this information and continued information that Healthy Living for ME will gather over the years over time will position us and allow us to project kind of those needs around prevention and healthy aging,” said Maija Dyke, contract and business manager of Healthy Living for ME. “The goal is really to support the state of Maine’s long-term services.”

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Data collection is happening in two phases to try to gather information about the needs of all Mainers. A virtual, 29-question survey that takes between eight and 10 minutes to complete is currently live online through July 14. Questions focus on what Mainers need for support, how they would access resources and services like transportation and insurance options, and demographic information to try to be inclusive.

Healthy Living for ME encourages anyone 18 years or older to fill out the survey. The goal is to get responses from people in all 16 counties. So far, about 240 people have answered it.

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A second phase includes a paper version of the survey for Mainers who may not have reliable access to the Internet. Organizers don’t expect this phase to take place until fall, but Healthy Living for ME is working with the University of New England’s Master of Public Health program to make it possible. This phase will include in-person listening sessions in different communities, especially in northern and rural Maine.

Dyke said they hope to assess all of the data by the end of the fall. 

“We are in a growing phase. We are the network lead entity, and part of our role with being that for the state of Maine and the community integrative health network is to not just say, ‘This is what Mainers need or want.’ It’s to rely on the data that we have — both national trends and data that is being presented here in the state of Maine through the census report, through other local reports — to say, ‘Yes, this is what we know is needed.'”

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To take the survey online, click here. You can also call 1-800-620-6036 to take the survey by phone. 

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