This month the AARP’s Public Policy Institute, in conjunction with the National Conference of State Legislatures, released a new report that is of direct applicability to all those concerned about their New York long-term care plans. Entitled, “Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices,” the project is focused entirely on analyzing what states are doing (or not doing) to help seniors stay in their own homes as they age. As the report authors note, the vast majority of seniors prefer to age in place, but their ability to do so is in many ways dependent on how communities are designed and senior care programs implemented. Toward that end, the report took a look at land use policies, transportation services, and housing options across to country which are helping seniors meet their goal of avoiding the need to move.
When it comes to land use, the report found it crucial to integrate necessary services with transportation planning to reduce automobile travel. If older adults can more easily walk or otherwise reach necessary support services, they will be able to live in place longer. Also found to be helpful were requirements for implementing transit-oriented development within a half mile of transit stops and joint use of community facilities for senior centers and health clinics. Similarly, increased public transportation options are important to the efforts of many seniors to stay in place. “Complete street” policies are in place in some states requiring designs which allow travelers of all ages and abilities to navigate the street. The policy institute also suggested better coordination between human service transportation agencies. The coordination allows these agencies to do more with fewer resources.
When it comes to housing, many elder care plans are created specifically to help seniors have access to preferable living situations–usually outside of the nursing home. However, the AARP report found that there is a shortfall in affordable and accessible housing for seniors, making it difficult to avoid the institutional setting. To help, the authors suggested states make use of the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs to obtain more funds to increase the affordable housing supply. Similarly, developers should be encouraged to increase accessibility by altering building standards.
Our New York elder law attorneys know that our state has a long-way to go to help ensure all seniors can age in place. A comprehensive study last month (also from the AARP) actually ranked New York dead last in total percentage of at home care residents. In other words, more residents in our state as compared to elsewhere are forced to move out of their long-time homes and into alternative living arrangements to receive the day-to-day assistance they need.
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