The next mayor will be responsible for 1.4 million people over the age of 60 — a population larger than most United States cities. New Yorkers are living longer. Seniors vote. What should be on the minds of candidates?
For the first time in its history, the city will see a 45 percent increase of older adults by 2030.
Baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011 and will begin turning 70 in 2016 — during the term of the next mayor. The over 85 is the fastest growing segment of the city’s population. Older New Yorkers reflect the diversity of the city’s population as over 50 percent come from minority groups. Many seniors financially struggle with one one out of there living in poverty. There are also endless opportunities for using their life experience in positive ways.
The next mayor needs to navigate this population tsunami with careful citywide planning. Older New Yorkers must be included as major stakeholders and not excluded as they often are. As a city, we must raise the bar on addressing ageism.
How does the next mayor take the helm and what are the issues?
Council of Senior Centers and Services has developed an extensive candidates questionnaire designed to address issues impacting the lives of older adults. Responses can be found at www.cscs-ny.org.
On July 11, over 400 seniors and others packed the first mayoral forum focusing on older adults. They came from over 80 neighborhood programs across the city. Five candidates attended: Democrats Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu and Anthony Weiner; as well as Republican John Catsimitidis.
It was a great opportunity for those who came to answer an array of questions. It was a lost opportunity for those who did not come.
The audience was engaged and serious — clapping, cheering and even booing at one point. They will talk about this with their friends at senior centers and other places, their families, and neighbors.
CSCS’ alert and the video of the forum let thousands of New Yorkers know what happened.
A broad array of issues was covered:
• Department for the Aging funding for community based services
• Elder abuse
• Retaining and building affordable housing with services for older adults, rent regulation and SCRIE
• Hunger and food insecurity and the under enrollment of older adults in the SNAP/food stamps program
• Public transportation – user friendly mass transit system and improving Access-A-Ride
• Emergency preparedness and disaster response for older adults
• Cultural sensitivity to elderly immigrants and LGBT seniors
Time did not allow for questions regarding supports for family caregivers, mental health services, and the increase of those with Alzheimer’s. These areas are covered in our questionnaire.
The next mayor needs to provide a variety of means to ensure the economic security of older adults. The platform presented in our questionnaire and at the forum is a roadmap to making the city a good place to grow old. Aging with dignity is what we want for ourselves, our loved ones and all New Yorkers.
Bobbie Sackman, director of public policy at the Council of Senior Centers and Services, can be reached at
. CSCS’ mission is to champion the rights of older adults to make NYC a better place to live.
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