AARP Eye Center
Gov. Kathy Hochul knows firsthand why it’s important to support older adults who want to stay in their homes as long as possible.
Her father is one of them.
John P. “Jack” Courtney is aging in place in his home in Florida, with the support of home health care aides. “We were able to bring aides in,” Hochul tells the AARP Bulletin. “Otherwise, he would be in a very expensive setting without the familiarity of his home and the comfort of his home.”
Hochul, a Democrat and the first woman to serve as the state’s governor, discussed with the Bulletin in a January interview her office’s plans for improving the lives of older New Yorkers. The state has 7.5 million residents age 50 and over, and Hochul says a top priority is completing its first Master Plan for Aging. It will be, she says, “a statewide, comprehensive approach to how we can help seniors who call themselves New Yorkers have the best quality of life possible.”
The plan will examine how services are coordinated, consider innovative care models and recommend strategies to better meet the needs of older adults and their families. Areas to be covered include health, communication, caregiving and long-term care financing.
It is being created by state agency leaders and an advisory committee that includes James O’Neal, 75, of Harlem, AARP New York’s volunteer state president. Hochul expects a preliminary report from the committee this year.
She says she wants people to be able to “age gracefully and with dignity in New York.”
Aging in place a priority
Among her other plans:
- Housing affordability: New York has among the highest housing costs in the U.S., and Hochul says it’s largely because there aren’t enough homes to meet demand. The governor’s office is pushing the New York Housing Compact, a plan to make an additional 800,000 units available over the next decade by changing regulatory rules. The goal is to make housing more affordable for everyone, including older adults and their children.
- Aging in place: Hochul is calling for the state to invest in holistic teams to provide care to low-income adults in their homes and to provide respite care for high-need family caregivers. In-home care can be more cost-effective for the state than paying for a nursing home.
- Long-term care facilities: The governor wants to create a system to provide quality reporting and accreditation for assisted-living facilities. She hopes to boost the quality of nursing homes and provide more transparency about them, so New Yorkers can make informed choices about long-term care.
- Energy affordability: With energy costs heading higher, Hochul proposed $200 million to provide a credit to about 800,000 households earning less than $75,000 a year that aren’t eligible for the state’s utility discount program.
AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel is encouraged by aspects of Hochul’s plan. Another priority for AARP this year is a data-matching system that would make sure people enrolled in the state’s energy, nutrition and Medicare savings programs have access to other benefits for which they’re eligible.
“The governor has been very receptive and understands the importance of older adults and making sure they can age in place,” Finkel says. “We are very encouraged that she continues to keep in mind what older adults need to stay right where they are and help their local towns and communities stay vibrant.”
Read more on AARP New York’s response to Hochul’s proposals at aarp.org/NYgov.
Michelle Crouch is a writer living in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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