Surveys from the AARP suggest that more than ninety percent of seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes as they age instead of moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility. Our New York elder law estate planning attorneys work with many seniors who take preparations specifically to avoid being forced to move in the future.
Unfortunately, access to the support services that allow seniors to stay at home is getting harder and harder to come by. Transportation services, meal delivery programs, adult day care centers, and similar programs are finding it tougher to stretch stagnant resources to aid a growing number of seniors. The Times Herald-Record touched on these New York elder care concerns in a story this week.
For example, at the end of this month the Dial-A-Bus service will no longer be providing support to elderly community members in New Windsor, Cornwall, and many nearby towns. Senior care workers explain that it is hard to underestimate the value of those sorts of services. For some isolated seniors, the bus service was not simply the only way they had to get to doctors appointments, but it was often the only chance these seniors had to socialize and interact with those in the community.
In many areas, transportation seems to be the biggest need for seniors, making cuts to programs like the Dial-A-Bus particularly distressing. The Orange County Office of the Aging director summarized the situation by noting that, “Without transportation, seniors without family members have no way of buying food. Without transportation, seniors, whose lives revolve around medical appointments, won’t be able to get to their doctor’s offices, especially when some seniors have dozens of those appointments per year.”
The cuts to these services are coming at a time when those in need of the aid are larger than ever. The total number of seniors in New York communities has increased at 300% to 1000% growth rates over the last decade. Over that same time, in most counties the percentage of community members over the age of 65 has soared. By 2015 many analysts expect the elderly population to constitute 40% of the overall population in many areas.
Rising senior population rates notwithstanding, last year state officials actually proposed cuts to funding for many senior care programs. Most of those cuts were eventually rejected due to community protests. However, even without specific budget cuts, many programs still face shuddering because of a lack of rising funds to meet the rising population. Fewer outside support programs for seniors makes qualification for New York Medicaid services even more important than ever.
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