New York is experiencing an “aging boom,” as the state’s aging population grows at an unprecedented pace, according to a January report from the Center for an Urban Future. Aging New Yorkers are now the fastest-growing population in nearly 20 counties and most of the state’s larger cities, including Albany and New York City. Advocates and experts warn that investment in services to care for people ages 65 and older does not match the sheer numbers of this demographic, which is expected to account for an ever-increasing share of the state’s population.
Lawmakers have highlighted the pandemic’s toll on the older population and say that there are new opportunities to rethink how the state empowers aging New Yorkers. However, the state may not be moving fast enough to fully prepare for the unique needs of the population, especially those dependent on a web of federal and state social services.
The New York chapter of the AARP, headed by Beth Finkel, says that the state’s investment in the state Office for the Aging is lacking. Workers will benefit from a cost-of-living adjustment proposed by Governor Kathy Hochul, but her executive budget does not include any new funding for the agency. Advocates say the agency’s $282 million budget already represents a relatively small portion of state government spending.
From 2011 to 2021, New Yorkers aged 65 or older grew by 31 percent, while the under-65 population declined by 444,000 people. However, with that increase has come a growing number of older New Yorkers living in poverty, a trend deemed concerning by experts. According to a report by Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economics professor at The New School, the state does not adequately streamline eligibility data for older adults who could benefit from federal assistance programs like SNAP or the Home Energy Assistance Programs. Her report found that eligible New Yorkers miss out on $2.5 billion in federal assistance, which translates into more than $4 billion of statewide economic stimulus.
The consequences of older people leaving the state for more economical locations could be multifold, as older people, especially those who are retired, tend to invest more of their time in community work, and their money helps stimulate the local economy. Counties’ tax bases often depend on older citizens, making the state’s investment and interest in retaining older citizens crucial.
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