Older Adults

Older adults need a robust community-based infrastructure that provides positive supports for healthy aging. UNH advocates to empower older adults and for services needed as they age in their communities.

UNH settlement house members provide a wide variety of services to over 80,000 older New Yorkers each year by operating programs such as senior centers, meal and nutrition programs, Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), case management programs, home care for older adults, and geriatric mental health programs.

According to the NYC Department for the Aging, the older adult population in New York is growing rapidly—with the percentage of people 60+ in New York City estimated to rise to 20.6% in 2040. There is a strong need to bolster services and programs that promote health and wellness, address social isolation, and provide meaningful opportunities for participants to be involved in broader community life.

In early 2019 UNH launched the Institute for Empowered Aging to provide opportunities for older people to connect and drive community change in their neighborhoods. This approach invests later life with meaning, purpose, and value.

UNH supports:

Senior centers

Senior centers—more than 40 of which are run by UNH members—are spaces for older adults to gather and socialize, enjoy a meal, participate in activities, and receive case management services. Centers are often are under-funded, so we work to ensure senior centers receive adequate, flexible funding so programs can run vibrant and successful centers.

Meals and nutrition programs

For homebound older adults who are unable to prepare their own food, home-delivered meals are a nutritious alternative. However, with the cost of food and staff wages constantly rising, UNH advocates for funding that supports food costs, staff, kitchen supplies, and other needs.

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs)

These are housing developments or neighborhoods that were not originally designed as senior housing but have naturally become home to a significant number of older adults over time. NORCs receive contracts to promote the health and stability of older adults who wish to age in their homes by providing health care, social services, and opportunities for socialization and activities to remain active.

Licensed Home Care Services Agencies (LHCSAs)

LHCSAs are licensed by the State to help home-bound seniors and people with disabilities with the activities of daily living. However, the agencies that provide these services are under intense financial pressures because of shifting labor guidelines. UNH is advocating for policy changes that will pay workers fairly while ensuring home care agencies can afford to stay in business.

Geriatric Mental Health

UNH believes in the importance of providing mental health services for older adults. For example, the Geriatric Mental Health Initiative supports mental health services in non-clinical, community spaces where older adults gather.

Current Policy Agenda

State Level

In FY 2019-2020, New York State must take the following actions to support older New Yorkers:

Maintain $8.06 million for the NORC program to fully cover contracts for existing and new NORCs, and add at least $775,000 to cover the loss in pro-bono nursing services that are required in NORC contracts.

UNH advocates to fully fund licensed home care providers for any prospective and retroactive financial liability resulting from pending lawsuits on the 13-hour pay rule; and consider policy changes to ensure fairer working conditions for home care workers such as fully funding 24-hour shifts through Medicaid, more split shifts, and variable pay scales for on-call hours, in addition to creating an oversight entity or short-term task force to stabilize the industry.

UNH supports elder parole legislation -- S.2144 (Hoylman) / A.4319 (Weprin) -- which would require consideration of parole release for all incarcerated older adults who are age 55 or older and have served at least 15 years of a prison sentence.

City Level

In FY 2020, New York City must take the following actions to support older New Yorkers:

Senior Centers
UNH advocates to include the second $10 million in promised senior center “model budget” funding and an investment of $20 million to support congregate meals and kitchen staff in senior centers.UNH supports the creation of a $10 million emergency repairs fund for senior centers in need of capital and expense budget repairs and building improvements.

Meals and nutrition programs
UNH urges the city to invest $15 million in the DFTA Home Delivered Meal program to continue providing daily meals to homebound seniors.

UNH advocates for to baseline the $1 million increase in NORC funding from FY 2019, ensure Council Discretionary funding continues to fund the current NORC programs, and add an additional $750,000 to cover nursing services required in NORC contracts.

Geriatric Mental Health
UNH supports the increase the Geriatric Mental Health Initiative from $1.9 million to $2.5 million to support these services, and support the administration’s $1.7 million add to Geriatric Mental Health services.

Proper Funding for Services
UNH advocate to restore both the Healthy Aging Initiative at FY2019 level of $2.04 million and the Support Our Seniors Initiative at FY2019 level of $4.08 million to continue providing supports.

Policy & Advocacy Work

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