On Thursday, a group of seniors, advocates, and home care workers gathered in front of City Hall, demanding more funds and better senior services.
New York’s Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly Program, a vital program that provides home care to low-income seniors and undocumented seniors is rattling with lack of funds. Out of 77,000 low-income seniors in the city, it provides services to only 3,000—a negligible 4 percent.
“We need to make sure that our seniors are taken care of. And we are thinking about this because increasing funding for this program will allow low-income seniors and un-documented seniors to access to home care,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, senior organizer for Align, an alliance working for social and economic justice.
Silva-Farrell explained that low-income seniors couldn’t afford home care; they even become ineligible for Medicaid because they are above the poverty threshold.
“We are calling on the city and the state to begin planning over the next few years for programs that would cover thousands of seniors who are not covered by Medicaid,” said Margaret Chin, Chair of the Aging Committee.
For the past few months, Keith Luke has been on senior home care services—a program that provides care services to low-income and undocumented seniors in New York. He doesn’t receive enough hours of daily service, which includes dialysis care. He needs more but the city has no funds.
“I have been receiving home care services for the past few months because I’m new. I have had surgery for a hairpin (fracture), also dialysis, which I’m on now. I get four hours a day and I have asked for more, but they can’t increase it because they don’t have enough funding for it.”
According to Align, demand for home care in New York City is growing as baby boomers age and as life expectancy rises. Two-thirds of people over the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care at some point in their lives, and over 90 percent of aging New Yorkers would prefer to receive home-based care, instead of institutional care, the organization said in a release.
For Luke, his situation reminds him of the challenges he struggled with for 17 years while taking care of his aging mother. “It was a struggle. It cost me jobs … education. I didn’t have the help I needed,” he said.