AGING NEEDS ARE RECOGNIZED THOUGH ADVOCACY EFFORTS

 

The senior population in NY State is growing at a rapid rate.  NY State ranks fourth in the nation for adults 60 years old and older at 3.7 million (approximately 20% of the total state population).  The US Census projects that in just 6 years (2025) the senior population is predicted to expand to 5 million.

Wayne County senior population is increasing at even a faster rate.  In 2015, older adults (60+) comprised 24% of Wayne’s population. In 2025, senior population is projected to increase to 28,861 or 30% of the total population.

The good news is that the Wayne County senior population contributes substantially both financially and with their civic involvement.  Wayne County 60 and older residents personal household income generates approximately $375 million of revenue annually, through employment, pensions, SS and investments. The vast majority of older adults (81%) own their own homes and 64% have paid off their mortgage.  It is estimated that 3,219 Wayne County older adults provide approximately 1.7 million volunteer hours that equates to approximately $47.8 million in volunteer contributions! Without a doubt, seniors contribute greatly to Wayne County value. Assisting seniors to stay in their communities where they pay taxes and purchase goods and services makes good common sense.

However, as individuals advance in age and can’t manage to do as much on their own, it is so important to honor their contributions and be able to offer the necessary supports to assist them to remain safely in their homes as long as possible. It is a reality that with people living longer due to lifestyle improvements and medical advances that the State is facing a large financial burden if strategies are not put in place now to prevent an onslaught of nursing home placements in the near future. More Wayne County seniors end up in nursing home placements than in surrounding counties.

Federal, state and locally funded community based services, such as case management, personal care aide services, personal emergency response units (PERS) and home delivered meals offered through the Department of Aging and Youth is an average cost of $9,600 annually per person.  A senior receiving these services can generally delay entry into a nursing home by approximately 2 years or more saving $135,400 per person per year for nursing home care. Without these valuable services at least half of the 500 seniors that receive the above community based services would require nursing home placement.

Throughout the state the Offices of Aging Agencies have been actively advocating for more funding to serve the growing number of seniors on our waiting lists.  It is evident that Governor Cuomo has listened to our advocacy efforts and recognizes the necessity of providing and expanding preventive resources to assist more seniors to remain at home as long as safely possible to prevent more expensive institutional long term care.  He released his executive budget proposal this past January.  The following are two of the primary budget funding enhancements to support seniors as they age. With continued advocacy, hopefully they will be passed at the legislative level and adopted in the final NY State budget so we can serve more seniors on our waiting lists!

Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) funding is proposed to be increased from $31 million to $50 million annually.  Thousands of older New Yorkers are in need of community based services offered through local Area Agencies on Aging and their local partners. Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) funds are used for a wide array of programs and services that help older New Yorkers maintain their autonomy and independence, as well as caregivers who support a loved one, including: assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, shopping, preparing meals, bill paying, case management, home delivered meals, transportation, adult day services, and personal emergency response systems, among others. The unmet needs of older New Yorkers continue to grow as a result of the demand generated by both an increasing aging population and expanded awareness of community based programs that allow older New Yorkers to remain in their homes, while also often providing respite to their caregivers.

Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP) funding, if passed, would increase from a 2018 state allocation of $50 million to $65 million in 2019 to help address the workforce shortage in personal care aides.  Every county in New York State is experiencing a home care shortage that places the autonomy of seniors’ at-risk, increases utilization of higher cost care such as emergency rooms and nursing homes and prevents safe and appropriate discharges, resulting in preventable readmissions. Thousands of New Yorkers are on waiting lists for home care due to a lack of access to aides and adequate funding to the network of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and their subcontracted licensed home care providers.

The Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP) helps older New Yorkers age in place at their home through the use of case management to help connect with non-medical in-home services such as home delivered meals and a personal emergency response system, and respite for their caregivers. EISEP is a lifeline for older New Yorkers who are not Medicaid eligible because it allows them to remain in their homes and has proven to prevent or delay spend down to Medicaid and entry into a nursing home.

By utilizing the State Office for the Aging’s flexible funding streams, AAAs could possibly negotiate higher reimbursement rates for the home care agencies, with the understanding the increased dollars would be used to provide higher salaries to recruit and retain workers, thereby helping those who are in need of home care and avoiding unnecessary nursing home admissions. A recent report by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) found that nearly 9 in 10 home care workers are women, and their median age is 45. Nationally, home care workers earn a median income of $13,800 which results in a high poverty rate among home care workers

I know our local representatives are very concerned and recognize the critical need for expanded community based services for the elderly.  Please join us and let your local and state legislative representatives know how important this enhanced funding is to allow seniors to remain safely in their homes and communities.

Wayne County Legislative Representatives are:

Senator Pam Helming, Legislative Office Building Room 517, Albany, NY 12247

Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, 128th Assembly District, 10 Leach Road, Lyons, NY 14489

 

Penny Shockley-Bloomer

Director

 

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