Because of Mayor Bloomberg's citywide sustainability blueprint PlaNYC 2030, the year 22 years hence has become a benchmark for visioning New York City's future. And in 2030, say those who track aging patterns, one of the things the city will be is older.
With 44 percent growth in the over-65 population expected by then – rising to 1.35 million, or one-fifth the total population, more than the projected number of school-age children – the city's senior services providers are making future plans of their own. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn initiated an “Age Friendly New York City” initiative, including commissioning a study of seniors' needs from the New York Academy of Medicine. Bloomberg's “All Ages Project,” a cosponsor of the study, also is working on projects such as making streets safer for older pedestrians. The Department for the Aging (DFTA) is in the midst of restructuring its case management approach, home-delivered meals program and senior center operations. And seniors' advocates and nonprofits that also deliver services are involving themselves in the processes as critics and collaborators.
DFTA's restructurings – which began with conversations more than two years ago, inspired by the demographic shifts ahead – call for consolidation of Meals-on-Wheels and case management contracts, possible regionalization of senior centers, and an emphasis on “health and wellness” programming. The moves were shaped by consultation with service providers, community representatives, elected officials and others, agency officials say. “The aging network needs to be strengthened to be ready for the diverse and increasing numbers of seniors we will be called on to serve,” says DFTA Commissioner Edwin M