By BETH FINKEL
We all hope to grow older in a way that is healthy and safe. Most of us want to continue to live at home as long as possible, and senior services can help us achieve that goal. Unfortunately, funding for the Department for the Aging is not keeping pace as our city’s demographics shift older. In Queens, the 65-plus population is on track to skyrocket by 54 percent between 2015 and 2030, a projected rate that is faster than the city average.
Our population is not just aging; it is also becoming more diverse. People of color account for 62 percent of New York City residents who are 50 years of age and older. In Queens, immigrants comprise a majority of the senior population in 10 out of 14 neighborhoods. But as revealed in AARP New York’s recent report, Disrupting Racial and Ethnic Disparities: Solutions for New Yorkers Age 50+, people of color over the age of 50 fare worse in the areas of health, economic security, and the ability to live and remain in their communities.
Comprehensive services that help older New Yorkers age healthily and securely at home will help address these disparities amid a demographic shift. This is critical to our retaining their tremendous economic, social, cultural and family contributions, and is more cost-effective than institutionalized care. It is also the right thing to do, as New Yorkers overwhelmingly report they prefer to age in their own homes.
To that end, the AARP is calling for additional investments in the NYC Fiscal Year 2020 budget to help older New Yorkers access such services as case management, homecare, naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) and caregiver support. Our city depends on it.
Beth Finkel is the state director of AARP New York.