Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Collins protects seniors

Elder abuse is an all too common tragedy, one that people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia are at heightened risk to experience. Unfortunately, police, firefighters and emergency personnel — who are often the first to respond to abuse — have limited training about working with people who have dementia.

I am both a daughter and a wife of Alzheimer’s. Both my loved ones have had amazing support from family. Not everyone is lucky enough to have trusted and safe caregivers. Dementias often cause confusion, behavioral changes and diminished communication skills. It is not always clear to know a person is living with the disease. It is an invisible disability. Many people living with the disease learn to cope. They might have a few answers that fit many questions. Training will help police, firefighters, and emergency personnel know they are dealing with this invisible disability.

Thankfully, Sen. Susan Collins has been a leader, introducing the Alzheimer’s Association-endorsed Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act ( S. 3703). It was passed unanimously by the Senate and just passed recently in the House. This bill will require the Department of Justice to develop training materials to assist professionals supporting victims of abuse living with dementia. Dementia-specific training materials for these professionals will help protect those in long-term care from elder abuse.

Please join me in thanking Collins for her work to help protect our nation’s seniors including those living with dementia who are most at risk.

Mary Dysart Hartt

Alzheimer’s Ambasador


UMS needs to refocus

Like other retirees, we learned of the impending change in the University of Maine System’s health insurance coverage for retirees in a BDN article. This abrupt and callous decision forces elderly people to use technologies of today’s work world but unknown to theirs. Many retirees have hearing and vision problems, which further complicate their use of web-based systems. Others have mental issues that make learning impossible.

At a time when many of us are learning how to cope with our spouse’s or our own problems, we should not be faced with learning new technologies, understanding complex insurance options, and making a decision we will have to live with for a year — and do it in less than two months!

This situation is especially galling when UMS doesn’t seem to be keeping the timetable it has laid out for promised guidance and correspondence. The same day I received word that the University of Maine Foundation had successfully raised $208 million dollars (including retiree contributions), I learned that UMS expects to save $2.5 million from this forced change in coverage.

It seems to me that the UMS “Vision for Tomorrow” needs to refocus. How long will retirees continue to donate their time, support, annual dollars and include the UMS in our wills when we are treated with such disregard?

Fran Griffin


Yacoubagha shows up to serve

Dina Yacoubagha is exactly who I want on my city council. When the pandemic first hit, the needs at our local food pantries skyrocketed. Many kind, generous souls donated money, but unfortunately there was no way to use it to purchase the bulk amount of items that were needed. Grocery stores had placed limits on purchases as their shelves got wiped out.

Yacoubagha reached out to me to see how she could help. I told her that one of the food pantries we were working with most was running really low on dried pasta and sauce — a staple item. She organized a drive with some friends, and in less than two weeks she showed up at the pantry with two giant tupperware tubs full of dried pasta and sauce.

To me, this story exemplifies three of Yacoubagha’s best characteristics. First, she didn’t wait to see if I’d call her, she let me know she was available to help. Second, she didn’t presume to know what the need was, she asked. And third, she brought people together to solve the problem and came through for us, like she always does. This is exactly the kind of person I want making decisions for our community. Someone who shows up to serve and who really listens to the people she is serving.

This is why I am voting for Dina Yacoubagha, and why I’m hoping that others will too.

Darcy Cooke

Community Organizer

Food AND Medicine


Voting for Democrats

As we mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many commentators are suggesting that her death will motivate women to vote for Democratic candidates not only in tribute to her legacy, but also to protect rights that Ginsburg fought for, including the right to have a job without being discriminated against on the basis of sex, the right to sign a mortgage and to have a bank account without a male co-signer, and the right to be pregnant and still work.

But these and other rights that Ginsburg championed are important to many men as well — because they are, in fact, basic rights that should be guaranteed for everyone, regardless of gender (or sexual orientation, or race, or social class). As such, millions of men across the country will vote for Democratic candidates, both to honor Ginsburg, and to support justice and fairness for all.

In Maine, this means thousands of men will vote for Joe Biden, Sara Gideon, Chellie Pingree, Jared Golden, and scores of Democratic candidates for state and local offices. These are men, like myself, who are concerned about preserving women’s reproductive rights, ensuring affordable health care and health insurance for all, combating climate change and protecting our natural environment, and supporting civil rights, voting rights, equal opportunity and racial equality.

Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls. Come on guys, join us. Vote blue from Kittery to Madawaska!

Mark Tappan