A new study from AARP and a think-tank called the Center for an Urban Future says that Monroe County’s senior population surged in the last decade. It’s up 36 percent in the city of Rochester and up 13 percent across Monroe County. The study used census data to analyze New York’s population. It says that’s Rochester’s 65-plus population is 8 percentage points higher than any city in the state.
Kent Gardner, the chief economist for the Center for Governmental Research, says the reason for this is pretty obvious.
“It’s baby boomers like me!” Gardner said. “As we get older, we kind of move into that other category. The large change from ’07 to the present isn’t a surprise. That’s what happens when people get older. They get older.”
Gardner chairs the board of St. Ann's Community. That’s a group of senior living homes around Rochester he says St. Ann’s is “watching these numbers closely” as they build more senior accessible housing.
Anne Marie Cook is the President and CEO of Lifespan, a non-profit that works with older adults in our area. She says preparations for New York’s baby boomers are overdue.
“We have always been a little dismayed that policymakers are not discussing this more,” Cook said. “About the incredible age wave. Sorta this change in the demographics and I think we to start a conversation about what this would mean in our community, our state and around the country.”
Cook says in Rochester that age-wave will demand adjustments in Rochester’s transportation options and housing stock. She says that infrastructure is not ready for seniors who want to age in their current hometown.
That’s not the only concerning fact in the study, poverty among senior citizens in the city of Rochester jumped 38 percent since 2007. That’s a bigger jump than any other city in the state. Cook says Lifespan workers sees this increase in its client’s lives every day.
“What we’re seeing is that older adults are coming into older adulthood without that pension like they once did,” Cook said. “Savings are smaller and all of the sudden we’re seeing more and more people entering those retirement years with social security and a small amount of savings.”
This was one of the biggest concerns expressed by Jonathan Bowles, a co-writer of the study and Executive Director of the Center for an Urban Future.
“We’ve got to make sure that New York is a place where older New Yorkers can afford to grow old,” Bowles said. “And right now in many parts of the state, that’s a big challenge.”