Service advocates for older New Yorkers were in Albany on Tuesday to lobby for a major investment of $177 million to serve over three million New Yorkers. The proposal was presented by LiveOn NY (formerly the Council of Senior Centers and Services), the Association on Aging and Lifespan. The proposal is an ambitious request but it is important to think big because of the rapidly expanding older population. And, many senior services now have waiting lists making it difficult for older persons to get in home services. Unfortunately, the tax cap and limits on state funding make it very difficult to increase funding for state funded programs. The advocates are asking for:
— $28 million more for the New York Connects “No Wrong Door” program administered locally by most area agencies on aging
–$15 million more with no local match for the Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) program which is the major state funding for local services
–$25 million annually for the New York Elder Caregiver Support Program
–$10 million annually to support Elder Abuse program services
— $25 million without a local match for the Targeted EISEP (Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program).
At a conference on Monday, Assembly Aging Chair Steven Cymbrowitz said he is concerned about cuts to the State Office for the Aging budget in the NORCs program (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities). The Governor’s budget proposes savings in the program to make it more efficient, but it really is a budget cut since all the current funds are not being re-programmed to those services which meet the legislative definitions and guidelines for NORCs.
I believe there needs to be a stronger emphasis to support community self-help programs like NORCs and villages in livable communities because government supported services cannot meet all senior needs. So it is important to nurture and support those dynamic community efforts that senior groups are developing themselves.
Supporting families and caregivers and building and strengthening community networks should be the overarching mission of the aging network.