Did you know that Montgomery County, Maryland has a Commission on Aging? In Fact, it does. The Commission on Aging (COA) was established by Montgomery County in 1974, under a requirement of the federal Older Americans Act of 1965, as amended in 1973. Members are appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council. COA advises County government on the needs, interests, and issues of older adult residents. It also advocates on behalf of those residents at the local, state, and federal levels.
COA holds monthly meetings of the full Commission, an Executive Committee, and four standing committees: Aging in Community, Communications and Community Outreach, Health and Wellness, and Public Policy. All meetings are open to the public and often include invited speakers. The Aging in Community and Health and Wellness committees explore topics and issues and identify challenges and gaps in services and supports. The Communications and Community Outreach conducts outreach to the broader community.
The Public Policy Committee focuses on advocacy. The committee drafts testimony and advocacy letters on COA’s behalf to all levels of government. It also organizes COA’s lobbying activities, including meetings with the County Councilmembers and members of the General Assembly. The Public Policy Committee works with the other standing committees and draws on their expertise.
The Commission testifies in person before the County Council and in writing on legislative, budget, and program issues. It also meets with members of the County Council and executive branch department heads. COA also communicates regularly with department staff.
COA lobbies on proposed legislation in the General Assembly and works with members of the Montgomery County Delegation. It regularly writes letters supporting or opposing legislation affecting older adults and occasionally gives testimony. The Commission also communicates with relevant State agencies on regulatory matters. COA also occasionally writes letters to our Congressional representatives and executive branch departments.
The Commission also holds two significant events each year:
- A Public Forum for older adults in the community to learn about issues that may affect them; and
- A Legislative breakfast for members of the Montgomery County’s General Assembly Delegation.
I joined the Commission on Aging in 2017, serving the last part of an unexpired term. I began my first full 3-year term in 2018. Soon after joining COA, I became a member of the Public Policy Committee, and I have co-chaired it since the beginning of 2018. I have drawn on my experience working for the General Assembly, advocating on behalf of older Americans at the federal and state levels on behalf of AARP, as well as my practice as an elder law and estate planning attorney in Silver Spring.
My work on COA is part of my commitment to serving my community, and I hope my work on COA has helped to make Montgomery County a better place. If you want to learn more about the commission and its work, including archived copies of its advocacy letters and testimony, commission and committee minutes, research, and other resources on the COA webpage, at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/ADS/COA/COAindex.html.