Dingell pledges to advocate for senior services


Photo by James Mitchell. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell takes questions from residents at Taylor’s Ford Senior Center Tuesday. Dingell promised to be an advocate for seniors in need of long-term health care.

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR – In preparation for this month’s White House Conference on Aging, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) said issues related to health care and costs for seniors remain at the top of her priority list.

“Everyone assumes that what they need is taken care of,” Dingell told seniors June 30 at Ford Senior Center, 6750 Troy. “I want to make sure you have access to the resources you need.”

Dingell, who this year succeeded her husband, John, as representative of Michigan’s 12th Congressional District, said that she’s been alarmed at the challenges facing seniors. Her education has been both political and personal after the former congressman was hospitalized late last year and they struggled to find proper home health care, affordable hearing aids and other issues.

“And I’m one of the lucky ones,” Dingell said, acknowledging that such barriers were a little easier to overcome for people of means. “We have to have a system designed to take care of long-term problems.”

Dingell introduced a bill in March – her first – to allow Medicare coverage for hearing aids after being told by doctors that more than half of patients who needed one were unable to afford the device. That issue, among others, encouraged Dingell to make health care for seniors among her top priorities.

Tuesday’s luncheon session was the second of two conversations Dingell held last week – along with a similar event in Ann Arbor June 29 – in which she asked for ideas, insights and issues facing seniors in anticipation of this month’s Conference on Aging in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday’s session was co-hosted by the city of Taylor, the Downriver Senior Alliance and the 34-community Area Agency on Aging. Copies were made available to seniors of Dingell’s “Long-term Care Guidebook” that was released in May, a directory of resources for long-term care in southeast Michigan.

“I want to hear everyone’s story and ideas,” Dingell said. “We need to change the whole dialogue on aging, and I promise to be an advocate for you.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)