This is a heated time for local politics, as various high-profile public officials jockey to replace Michael Bloomberg in the Mayor's Office. As part of the process, the candidates share different ideas about the challenges facing the city and the ways to fix them. This can be a helpful endeavor, focusing public attention on needed concerns and providing a burst of new ideas to, hopefully, enact change.
For example, one of the front-runners in the race, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn recently pointed to the risks faced by New York City seniors and the need for more proactive steps to keep those seniors safe. As reported in a NY Daily News story late last week, Quinn believes that a database of homebound seniors is necessary to ensure that those at-risk individuals receive the aid they need--particularly during natural disasters. This need was put in perspective following the many stranded seniors caught in the middle of Hurricane Sandy last year.
Quinn explained: "There were many reports that people were stuck in buildings without water, food, heat, and we want to be able to target those individuals. Some of these individuals were elderly or disabled, and it took the city, everyone would admit, longer than it should have to start outreach to locate them."
The Speaker's specific proposal came as part of a more comprehensive planned package of bills hoping to improve New York's storm response program. The proposed bill is likely just as starting point, as it would create a task force to evaluate how to create a homebound senior list, instead of actually calling for the list right away.
Interestingly, this puts her at odds with Mayor Bloomberg who previously argued that this sort of list of vulnerable seniors would be impractical. The Mayor claimed that because of the rapidly changing senior population, creating a list would be unhelpful because it would be outdated almost instantly.
Quinn counters that while it would likely be impossible to have a perfect list of seniors in need, the presence of at least some starting point would be better than having nothing at all. In the event of natural disasters, such a list could mean the difference of life and death for those most in need, like seniors who receive at-home care.
Of course, it is unclear who will ultimately win the election or whether any of these proposals might actually be considered by city officials. At the very least, though, it is encouraging that New York elder care issues are making it into the debate. With our population continuing to age, it is critical for officials to fully discuss the many implications this will have on the city and the state.