Washington, DC – With an estimate of more than 3.5 million New Yorkers currently at least 60 years old and another 1.2 million expected to reach 60 over the next five years, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced her priorities to strengthen services for New York’s seniors as part of the Older Americans Act, major legislation that delivers a broad range of senior services, from funding for nutrition and in-home care, to housing, transportation and other services.
“When seniors stay in their homes and maintain their independence, they live longer, healthier, happier lives, and taxpayers save millions,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging. “From opportunities to continue living independently, to access to better nutrition, empowering our seniors with better financial literacy and protecting them from abuse, these are the priorities I will be fighting for to ensure the Older Americans Act works for New York’s seniors.”
10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. Approximately 1.2 million New Yorkers will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years, according to 2010 Census Bureau estimates.
- In New York City, more than 475,000 will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years.
- In Western New York, more than 100,000 will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years.
- In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, nearly 90,000 will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years.
- In Central New York, more than 78,000 will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years.
- In the Southern Tier, nearly 40,000 will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years.
- In the Capital Region, more than 80,000 will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years.
- In the North Country, more than 30,000 will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years.
- In the Hudson Valley, more than 150,000 will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years.
- On Long Island, more than 180,000 will reach the age of 60 over the course of the next five years.
As Senator Gillibrand travels across New York, she hears directly from seniors who are concerned about having access to the kind of quality care they need. They worry about having to choose between being on their own or entering a nursing home. For many seniors who need just a little bit of help – for example once a day – they worry that a nursing home is the only choice currently available. However, thousands of New York seniors living in nursing homes don’t need to be. They could be living in their own homes if they had better access to some basic, in-home care. In fact, nearly 90 percent of people 50 and over want to stay in their homes as long as possible.
Senator Gillibrand’s priorities include providing better aging-in-place opportunities so more seniors can get the care they need in their own homes instead of moving to costly nursing homes, providing more effective financial literacy services, improving nutrition, and preventing elder abuse.
GILLIBRAND PRIORITIES FOR THE OLDER AMERICANS ACT
Improving Opportunities to Age In Place
Simple things people tend to take for granted can make the difference between allowing a senior to live a productive life independently, or having to live in a nursing home. Things like affordable housing, companionship, transportation to and from the doctor, access to food, and making minor household repairs. Yet, by living independently in their homes, seniors are more likely to remain active, and live longer, healthier lives, and taxpayers save money by relying less on costly nursing homes. In fact, keeping more seniors in their homes and out of nursing homes could save New York taxpayers upwards of $70 million each year.
As part of the Older Americans Act, Senator Gillibrand is working to increase the amount of funding states receive for community based supportive services. States use funding through the community based supportive services title to assist seniors with in-home health services, transportation, and support for home renovations to help keep seniors in their own homes longer. Currently, the community based supportive services title only receives $367 million each year. Given the increase of baby boomers, Senator Gillibrand is requesting additional $450 million yearly to address the needs of seniors.
Additionally, as seniors rely more on public transportation, Senator Gillibrand will work to include more senior-friendly transportation options by including the Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act as part of the Older Americans Act. The legislation would strengthen existing public transit programs for seniors and people with disabilities by giving states flexibility to use federal funding for senior-friendly transportation. The bill also increases transparency into federal transportation funding through new reporting standards, enhances the planning and coordination, provides technical assistance and seed grants for innovative community programs, and would establish a mobility management program for older adults and people with disabilities.
Strengthening Technology & Financial Literacy
To empower seniors with better proficiency in technology, Senator Gillibrand is working to offer more computer training opportunities based on best-practices, and develop a web-based data reporting and analysis system to track the system’s effectiveness, and eliminate waste. Past technology language in the OAA has been inadequate to serve the intense demand for computer training. Senator Gillibrand’s amendment would help improve alignment with current needs and program models. The bill would update language in the OAA bill to reflect current best practices among nonprofit technology services providers.
Senator Gillibrand will also promote measures to empower seniors with better financial literacy to help strengthen their retirement plans, and protect themselves for marketing scams that target seniors. The Senator’s bill requests that the National Resource Center for Women and Retirement be permanently included in the Older Americans Act with the other funded resource centers. The National Resource Center for Women and Retirement focuses on helping older persons avoid financial exploitation, poverty and dependence on government programs later in life.
Nine percent of older Americans live under the poverty line, and nearly 8 percent of households with seniors are considered food insecure, according to a 2010 report from the USDA and the Census Bureau. In New York alone, nearly 20 percent of seniors live in poverty – double the national average.
Senator Gillibrand is working to increase access to nutrition and meal services at senior and community centers, and expand access to home delivery meal services. Senator Gillibrand’s proposal would increase funding for senior nutrition services that are included in the Older Americans Act by $900 million. According to research from the Nutrition Consortium of New York State, every dollar spent on nutrition for seniors translates to $3.25 in health care savings, by keeping seniors healthy and out of the hospital.
Preventing Elder Abuse
Older Americans are among the most vulnerable to violence and abuse. Nearly 8 percent of New York seniors reported being victims of abuse, according to one study commissioned by the Office of Children and Family Services. The same study found that less than 1 percent of seniors officially report instances of abuse.
To protect more seniors from abuse, Senator Gillibrand is working to double investments in elder abuse prevention services from $5 million to $10 million as part of the Older Americans Act, and is supporting additional legislation, the Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act, to implement a comprehensive network of prevention and response measures.