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When you think about your future and where you might choose to reside in your old age, does New York come to mind? For many it doesn’t. Although, maybe it should.
People usually associate New York with its negative attributes: it’s expensive, very cold in the winter, particularly dangerous and even more so for the elderly, and it becomes more difficult to take public transportation as we become older. Although these are valid points, we infrequently recognize the positive efforts made by the city to better the lives of seniors in the community.
New York City currently has 251 Senior Centers where an older resident can enjoy a meal, take dance classes, art classes and mingle with people their age. New York is also known as one of the global leaders in adapting to the needs of older residents. In 2007 when the World Health Organization initiated a project to encourage age-friendly cities, New York was the first to join. This project included initiatives such as non-slippery pavements, buildings with elevators, and plenty of outdoor seating. New York has adopted 59 improvements to help better the lives of seniors in New York.
By making the state more senior friendly, New York is helping seniors to reclaim their neighborhood and push their boundaries further and further. Adapting to the needs of older residents has become more and more important as the number of people outliving the generations before them becomes more prevalent. In 2006, there was a global estimate of 11 percent of people over the age of 60. By 2050 there will be an estimated 22 percent of people over the age of 60.
Although other states should feel the pressure to join the movement, it is imperative for New York to be a frontrunner in these initiatives since approximately 1 million people over the age of 65 call New York City home. By 2030, the number of older New Yorkers is estimated to grow to 1.5 million. In addition to the age-friendly initiatives, New York has gone a step further by creating “aging improvement districts” where many of the age-friendly initiatives are concentrated. These cities include, East Harlem, the Upper West Side and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. As the population of seniors grows, so will the number of the aging improvement districts. By 2018, the City Council hopes to have every city district included in the program.
By expanding the boundaries of this program, the city we grew up in and love can now remain our forever home.
By Marissa Kleiner– Guest Blogger