The SAGE II Commission, reconvened by Common Ground Health in 2022, has released a vital report addressing the escalating needs of the aging population in New York’s Finger Lakes region. The report, which will influence recommendations for the New York State Master Plan for Aging, illustrates significant health challenges and inequalities faced by older adults in the area. It projects a 44% increase in the population aged 65 and above by 2040, highlighting the urgent need for enhanced services and resources. Unfortunately, the report also notes a decreasing trend in all other age demographics, emphasizing a potential future scarcity of caregivers.
The findings, coming after a pandemic-induced pause, present a disturbing picture of unmet needs and hardships endured by older adults, including strains on housing, food, and health services. The pandemic severely strained the systems intended to support older adults, impacting especially those ineligible for Medicaid. Consequently, the SAGE II report proposes 10 crucial recommendations, including combating ageism, fostering partnerships for equitable systemic change, bolstering caregivers, integrating medical and social services, funding proven programs, increasing affordable housing and transportation services, and augmenting healthcare and social service workforce. Local leaders have deemed these recommendations attainable, envisioning them as pathways to address significant concerns such as widespread poverty and lack of access to essential resources among older adults.
Local leaders, including Ann Marie Cook, president/CEO of Lifespan, are optimistic about political will, cost savings, and public-private partnerships transforming the proposed plans into actionable solutions, aligning with the New York State Master Plan for Aging. Ongoing dialogues with political figures have also been initiated, focusing on aligning report recommendations with state aging plans, with an emphasis on implementing cost-effective, proven practices and integrating multi-stakeholder partnerships. The urgency of these recommendations is emphasized by the declining younger population, highlighting potential future shortages in caregiving for the elderly, and underscoring the need to allow older adults the autonomy to make choices about their living conditions and futures.
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