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Senior Shelters Growing As America Ages

It is a well discussed fact that American demographics are shifting such that the percentage of the population over 65 years old (and over 80 years old) is growing steadily. Those most familiar with the data suggest that this trend will continue for the next several decades. It is hard to underestimate the significance of the change. By 2030 the total number of Americans at retirement age (over 65) is expected to double from today’s total.

This shift has serious ramifications for all Americans–both old and young. For one thing, we will continue to see growing pressures on programs which currently provide much needed support to seniors, like Medicaid and Medicare. The larger the number of people who are counting on this support for long-term care, like at nursing homes, the harder it will be for public coffers to provide the same level of care. That is one of many reasons why it is absolutely critical for New York residents of all ages to take steps now to plan for their later years–often by visiting a New York elder law attorney.

Another consequences of the changing demographics that we are already seeing is a rise in elder abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, much of the mistreatment is perpetrated by friends and family members of the seniors. A recent ABC News article on the topic noted how one of the only options for those seniors who are mistreated by friends and family is to find an emergency senior shelter. Although they are growing in popularity, those shelters are few and far between. The need greatly outpaces the current availability.

The story discussed one of the few in our area, Manhattan’s Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention’s Hebrew Home community. The director of the center is one of the pioneers of senior shelters in New York Center and across the country. She explained her approach: “My argument always is, if all you do is come in when the crisis has occurred, it is much more costly than preventative care.”

Of course this basic lesson is important in many contexts: prepare now and identify problems early. In the context of senior care, this is often the difference between thriving in one’s golden years and struggling in less than ideal situations. However, those seniors who already find themselves in difficult situations, perhaps living with an abusive friend or relative, should be aware that help exists. There are various senior shelters throughout the community that can provide 30 to 90 days support while looking for better long-term arrangements. Never feel that you are stuck in an abusive situation. Reach out and seek help today.

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