Please help us help our senior population — pass Proposition 11.

This is a quality of life issue for our senior citizens. We have the opportunity to show the rest of the nation how to devote a system dedicated to senior citizen issues. When Florida built their economy in the ’50s and ’60s, it was through retirees. We can assist more seniors to stay in their homes. It is a proven fact that they live longer, healthier lives and save millions of tax dollars.

On Nov. 4, Louisiana will have the opportunity to vote for Proposition 11, a constitutional amendment that will pave the way for the creation of the 21st state department, the Department of Elderly Affairs. The new department will be singularly focused on elder issues and the enormously positive impact elders have on our state. It will transfer the function of elderly affairs from the generic management under the governor’s Division of Administration to its own department, staffed and managed by persons deeply knowledgeable in matters relating to Louisiana’s elderly. With the transfer will come in place funding with no new costs to taxpayers but rather a new, efficient and effective department focused on our elderly.

Under the Division of Administration, elder services have been diluted, including “consolidating back-office functions” that meant eliminating the director for the Office of Elderly Affairs, leaving the elderly services without strategy, vision or leadership. The Louisiana senior citizen population represents 800,000 people and is the fastest-growing segment of our state.

Funding for elder services is already established. The Department of Elderly Affairs will aggregate monies already in place and, in fact, is highly likely to draw in new net revenues from sources that will support elder services once clear and efficient management is in place.

There is no change or impact to veterans associated with the new Department of Elderly Affairs.

Some things are so important that they merit a singular focus. One of the largest and fastest-growing segments of Louisiana’s population is persons aged 60 and over. Add to that group those 55 and over and the number jumps even higher.

Elder issues directly impact you and everyone you know. The point is that, you don’t have to be an elder to understand the importance of having a singular focus on elder issues. It’s just that important!

It’s no accident that states like Florida and Arizona that focus on elderly have such a concentration of retirees who bring with them significant wealth, talent and resources.

Creating this department is morally, ethically and fiscally the responsible thing to do. Services to the elderly also provide the support to allow working-age Louisianians to work, provide longer quality of life to keep our elder citizens in their homes, requiring fewer services for acute or long-term care and contribute to the overall health and welfare of our communities. For more information, go to

Joe Harrison

state representative, District 51