Image from 123RF
The designation stems largely from Cuomo's "Health Across All Policies" initiative, which he announced nearly a year earlier in his 2017 State of the State address, to incorporate health and healthy aging into state agency decision making.
A 2014 survey by AARP found that older New Yorkers would likely stay in the state as they age if improvements were made for them in health, housing, transportation and jobs. Leading needs, the survey found, are civic participation, employment and housing.
- Nearly two-thirds of New York's millennials and almost half of its boomers want easy proximity to a mix of shops, offices and restaurants.
- Most New York voters age 50 and older said they’d be more likely to stay in the state if improvements are made in housing (70 percent), transportation (66 percent) and jobs (61 percent) for older adults.
- Many New York Generation Xers and boomers are strongly considering leaving the state in retirement. Already, 22 percent of state government pensioners receive their checks outside of New York, and the state recently recorded its first decline in population in a decade.
But older residents bring tremendous value to the state, not only socially and culturally but also economically. In fact, New Yorkers age 50 and over contribute nearly $600 billion a year to the state's economy.
Photo from AARP New York
New York State's age-friendly approach utilizes the goals of the state Department of Health's "Prevention Agenda," a blueprint to improve the health of all New Yorkers in five priority areas and reduce health disparities. Meeting these goals, which include reductions in obesity and diabetes, improvements in environmental health, and enhancements in mental health services, will require attention to factors outside of health care, such as access to outdoor spaces and healthy foods, and improvements in education, housing and jobs.
(New York ranks among the Top 10 states in the nation for health, according to the 2017 America's Health Rankings report.)
Since 2012, the New York State Office for the Aging and the New York State Department of State have been working collaboratively on the Livable New York Initiative, which aims to support the development of more livable communities across the state. This multi-agency effort resulted in the establishment of a technical assistance resource manual to guide municipalities as they make planning decisions around improving livability and mobility.
In 2017, Cuomo also announced the launch of the nation's first statewide aging services mobile app to connect older adults and caregivers with local resources and services, including information regarding health, housing and transportation options. As part of the state's $10 billion "House NY 2020" commitment, more than 8,500 affordable housing units have been created for older adults. The plan aims to establish and preserve more than 100,000 units of affordable housing statewide by the end of 2020.
In the face of a rapidly aging population, AARP and the World Health Organization have taken steps to help develop more age-friendly communities. The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities encourages states, cities, towns, and counties to focus on the environmental, economic, and social factors that affect the health and well-being of older adults.
As a new member of the network, New York State will conduct an assessment of how age-friendly it is currently, looking at criteria like age distribution, economic well-being, housing affordability, accessibility and safety, access to and use of different transportation modes, pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and access to healthy food.
The assessment will also look at programs, services and funding, what age-friendly policies, procedures and legislation are currently in place, and what policies may be acting as barriers to age-friendliness. The process will involve hosting listening sessions and focus groups across the state to learn the needs and priorities of community leaders and residents.
The state already has a significant head start in its age-friendly efforts. New York City has been in the AARP age-friendly network since the program’s launch in 2012. At the start of 2018, more than a dozen communities — ranging in size from Erie County to the small town of Big Flats — had already signed on as members.
Article published February 2018