ALBANY, N.Y. (December 13, 2006) -- The Governor and Legislature today announced $800,100 in state funding for the Elder Network of the Capital Region (ENCR), based at the University at Albany's School of Social Welfare, to establish programs to create sustainable, aging-prepared communities from which exemplary practices will serve as models to augment New York's long-term care policy reform initiatives.
"As we watch the unprecedented demographic shift in America, the most visible sign of which is the aging of the baby-boom generation, we understand that new approaches are required to seize the opportunities and meet the challenges that accompany this tremendous change," said Neal E. Lane, director of the New York State Office for the Aging. "The partnership between government, philanthropy, research and the Capital Region communities is an engine of innovation that can, and will, instruct us as to where public policy should go in the future. It is an exciting and promising initiative, one that we at the State Office for the Aging are most proud to be a part of."
"As we enter the era of Baby Boomer retirements, it is increasingly crucial for our communities to be prepared for both the challenges and opportunities which will face us," said State Senator Hugh T. Farley. "This project will look at sustainable opportunities in both urban and rural communities, and represents an important investment."
UAlbany Officer in Charge Susan Herbst said, "Our schools and programs collaborate with public and private agencies to improve life in the region and state, including the lives of thousands of UAlbany alumni living in the Capital Region. ENCR's important work is one more example of the achievements and promise of university, community, and government partnerships."
"This funding is essential to supporting the greatest generation of New Yorkers and providing a resource they deserve as they reach the age of retirement and beyond," said Assemblyman Ron Canestrari. "The innovative program at the University at Albany will allow us to explore the best ways to prepare and meet the needs of the aging community in the Capital Region and throughout New York State."
"The nature of aging is changing and the needs of our elderly are changing," said Assemblyman Jack McEneny. "People are remaining more active and living longer. We must prepare for tomorrow for all of our citizens, including our growing number of seniors. This funding will go a long way toward insuring a longer and healthier future for the area's seniors."
"Our Senior Citizens are confronted with a myriad of healthcare and other quality of life decisions, as well as a variety of needs which differ from person to person and family to family," said Assemblyman Paul D. Tonko. "It is imperative that we provide the resources by which our elders and their families can make informed, compassionate and important health decisions, and ensure that the necessary assistance is available and accessible. The Elder Care Network of the Capital Region, which provides support, facilitates integrated services and develops critical programs for our aging adults, delivers a vital and respectful response to the needs of our elder loved ones and their families."
"This initiative will address the new challenges that our senior population faces as we develop programs that help seniors to remain active in their homes and communities," said Assemblyman Bob Reilly. "It also is another example of effective partnerships among government, university and private sectors which our region is fast becoming noted for."
The Elder Network, created from a partnership of the University at Albany's Center for Excellence in Aging Services and the New York State Office for the Aging, encompasses Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties.
In 2006, the first wave of baby boomers reached the age of 60. The population of individuals aged 60 and over in the four-county Capital Region is projected to increase 29 percent from 2000 to 2015. New York is second in the country in numbers of residents over 60; Florida is first. With unprecedented numbers of Depression-era elders currently in need of services, followed by an influx of retiring baby boomers, the Elder Network is the prototype for regional responses to critical issues that seniors face throughout the State.
Katharine Briar-Lawson, dean and professor in the UAlbany School of Social Welfare, said, "Through this award the Governor's Office, the State Senate, and State Assembly are supporting and recognizing the efforts of the School of Social Welfare and its partners here in the Capital Region to lead the way with information and assistance, health promotion, and new retirement options for the growing aging population."
"A critical goal for the Elder Network is ensuring that information and assistance are available to meet the needs of the aging population in the four counties," said Harry Rosenfeld, chair of the Board of Directors of ENCR. "EldernetworkNY.org is such a resource, and these funds will expand the information available and support building the needed 'assistance' infrastructure for the Capital Region."
"The Elder Network is dedicated to simplifying life choices for aging adults to ensure that they remain healthy and safe in their home of choice through the support of families, caregivers and service providers throughout our region," said ENCR Executive Director Sheri Sanduski.
The Elder Network of the Capital Region was created in 2003 to enhance the health, well-being, quality of life, and independence of seniors and reduce reliance on out-of-home care. The John A. Hartford Foundation in 2003 helped create ENCR with planning and implementation grants totaling some $500,000. ENCR and its partner organizations have also been able to garner more than $1 million in matching funds and in-kind contributions. To date, ENCR has:
- Established health and faith-based programs in which community advocates assist their peers to enable them to remain safe and healthy in their neighborhoods.
- Developed and provided elder health education, wellness programs, and knowledge exchange activities throughout the region on aging and health issues and priorities.
- Created an integrated website as a clearinghouse of information on the array of regional health and social services supported with county assistance.
- Launched a community awareness campaign to inform and educate the citizenry about the Elder Network and the interests, needs and contributions of older people living in the Capital Region.
For more information on resources and services available to elders, families, caregivers and others throughout the region, visit the Elder Network Web site.