Engineering an Age-Friendly Albany County

Majority Leader Frank Commisso and County Executive Damiel P. McCoy in Albany on Wednesday

ALBANY (July 14, 2017) — Albany County is strengthening its steadfast commitment to serving older residents through its membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

As one of 100 Age-Friendly Communities in the nation, Albany County government is dedicated to improving the environmental, economic and social factors that affect the lives and health of older adults. To discuss strategies for being a lifelong community, Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy called a meeting of about 100 potential stakeholders Wednesday in the First Unitarian Universalist Society on Washington Avenue in Albany.

McCoy asked Albany County Legislature Majority Leader Frank Commisso to join him in opening the event, which was led by Tom Scarff, director of Age-Friendly Albany County. McCoy called seniors “the backbone of our community.” He and Commisso pledged to fight for services as the federal government moves to cut national healthcare programs.

Majority Leader Commisso said later that seniors enjoy unwavering support from the Legislature’s Democratic Majority, which recently approved a $60 million expansion of the Albany County Nursing Home at a time when many other counties have closed or sold their nursing homes. Nearly 16 percent of Albany County residents are 65 or older. The Albany County Department for Aging provides services for more than 11,000 people a year.

“It’s great to be recognized for the tax exemptions, home-care initiatives, meals and social services we provide for older persons, and we’re always happy to make Albany County even more age-friendly,” Commisso said.

Attending the hours-long workshop were Commissioner George Brown of the Albany County Department for Aging, Albany County Legislators Merton Simpson and Lynne Lekakis, both Democrats of Albany, Michael Burgess and Patricia Binzer, co-chairs of Age-Friendly Albany County, and representatives of the New York State Office for Aging and AARP.

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities was started five years ago under the World Health Organization. Albany County became a member in 2016. The World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities identifies eight “domains of livability” that influence the quality of life of older adults. They are: Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Transportation, Housing, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Civic Participation and Employment, Communication and Information and Community and Health Services.

Scarff said Albany County and its partners will have many opportunities to increase the sustainability and livability of the County over the next five years of the program. He said he plans to hold meetings across the County to elicit ideas from constituents.

“The cohort is there,” Legislator Simpson said. “Eighty is the new 60 and there’s a lot of us 60-plus people out there.”

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