Creating Communities for All Ages in New York

Nancy LeaMond — AARP Executive Vice President, State and National Group — addresses the New York State Association of Counties

Nancy LeaMond's remarks before the New York State Association of Counties 2014 Fall Seminar, as prepared for delivery in Buffalo on September 22, 2014.

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I’m delighted to be with you all today, and I’m very pleased to be here in Buffalo. I want to congratulate our host city, because, personally, I think Buffalo Bills has a better ring to it than Toronto Bills. Don’t you agree?

Given that you all represent the fine counties and communities of New York, I want you to know that my roots are in the tri-state area — having grown up in your neighboring state of New Jersey.

So I feel like I’m back home. And tonight, I’m very much in a New York state of mind.

I especially want to thank Mark, Stephen and the New York State Association of Counties for inviting AARP to be a part of this important conference.

Many of you have probably heard of our organization — if nothing else, you know we send you a bunch of mail on the day you turn 50 ... and that’s true.

But you may NOT know that AARP is the largest membership organization in the country, with 38 million members — including more than 2.5 million members here in New York.

We have staff and volunteers in all 50 states, including offices in Albany and New York City — led by our AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel, who is here with us today.

And we have a basic, fundamental social mission — strengthening communities, and fighting for the issues that matter most to older Americans and their families. 

Issues like retirement and health security, transportation and housing, and livable communities.

Now, I know you have a packed couple of days. 

And much like the job of a public official, the agenda of this conference is wide-ranging — from workforce development, to emergency services, to sustainability.

I know the demands on your time are great, and the competition for your services comes from all corners — from federal and state government, from businesses, from educators and nonprofits and, most importantly, from your constituents. 

Not surprisingly, given the population that AARP represents, I have a specific plea.

And that is ... as you prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead, as you design systems, services and supports for your constituencies, I urge you to consider your work through the lens of our aging society, and that you consider solutions that benefit people of ALL ages. 

Because, simply put — our country is getting older.

On January 1, 1946, the first of 78 million baby boomers was born and on January 1, 2011, those boomers began turning 65 — representing the most significant demographic shift in our nation’s history.

By 2030, one in four Americans will be over the age of 50 — and the 65-plus population will double to 72 million. 

And just as we’re aging in the aggregate, every state is getting older.

In 2010, one in seven people living in New York were aged 65 and over.

By 2030, nearly one in five are projected to be 65-plus — nearly 3.6 million people. That is roughly the same size as the ENTIRE population of the city of Los Angeles today!

And if the state is heading in that direction, that means the counties you all represent are already there.

New York counties will, on average, see a 55 percent increase in your 65-plus population over the next 15 years.

This is especially pronounced in some places.

For example, in Delaware County, almost two out of every five people will be over the age of 65 in 2030 — increasing by almost 90 percent.

And Seneca County will see the 65-plus population increase from around 17 percent (ranked 22nd in the state today) to 28 percent (moving up to ninth in the state).

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