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Seniors looking for budget help

Mar 30, 2016 12:03 am
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Andrea Sears reports from New York News Connection for Public News Service that low-income seniors need help to stay in their homes. That's the message their advocates want lawmakers to hear as they finalize the state budget.

They may be the most neglected seniors in New York, says Bobbie Sackman, director of public policy for LiveOn New York.

They have too much income to be on Medicaid but not enough to pay for the support services they need. Sackman says there are 10,000 older people across the state who are on waiting lists for a variety of services.

"For Meals on Wheels, for case management where a social worker comes into their home, for home care, for transportation, for adult day services, says Sackman. "And the list goes on."

LiveOn New York has joined with AARP and others in calling for an increase of at least $15 million in state funding for Community Services for the Elderly (CSE).

Those services help not only the seniors, but family caregivers as well. Richard McGee says his 95-year-old mother, who has been approved for a home-health aide, has been on a CSE waiting list for three months.

"It makes it more and more difficult for me, because she's more dependent on me every day," McGee says. "And so, I spend much of my time during the day over there, trying to help her with her daily needs."

In the past three years, the waiting lists for CSE services have increased by 3,000 seniors.

The percentage of New Yorkers over age 65 continues to grow, while the ratio of potential family caregivers is going down.

Sackman calls access to affordable eldercare a 21st-century workforce issue.

"Just as we've talked for decades about the need for affordable child care, we need to look across the lifespan," she says. "And the other side of that equation is, how do you help these men and women stay in the workforce and balance their lives?"

Sackman says the proposed $15 million increase in CSE funding has bipartisan support in the Legislature, but the Senate's proposed budget would increase it by only $3 million.