Brooklyn, NY (October 7, 2019) – Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) President Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS unveiled the results of a borough-wide survey of nearly 2,000 older Brooklynites and recommendations to improve their quality of life, as part of their “Age-friendly Brooklyn” joint initiative to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy and contribute to the borough. Read the report here.
The announcement came at the end of Active Aging Week, a weeklong campaign created by the International Council on Active Aging that promotes healthy lifestyles for seniors. Over the course of the week, beginning on October 1st, Age-friendly Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights has offered programming for seniors under the theme of “Redefining Active,” culminating in today’s announcement.
The release of the report comes as Brooklyn’s aging population continues to grow. A report released this year from the Center for an Urban Future found that Brooklyn has the greatest amount of older adult residents of any county in the state, and the aging population in the borough has grown by 18 percent over the past decade. Overall, about a third of New York City’s adult residents aged 65 and older live in Brooklyn, totaling 337,741 people. By 2040, the population of residents aged 65 and older is expected to grow to 428,845. The rapid growth of this group in the city’s most populous borough highlights the need for targeted initiatives, policies, and services that allow them to age with dignity and continue to contribute to their communities.
“The measure of any society is how well we treat our seniors, and right now we as a city aren’t doing enough to ensure that they can lead fulfilling and productive lives as they age. This report offers us a roadmap for making Brooklyn more age-friendly, touching on everything from street design to technical education for our seniors. We owe a great debt to those who came before us, and who gave so much to make our borough what it is today. I thank The New York Academy of Medicine and all our other partners for their advocacy on behalf of our borough’s seniors, and urge the City and State to immediately take up our recommendations,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.
“In partnership with Borough President Adams and his talented staff, we are working to bring age-friendly improvements to neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn,” said Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS, president of The New York Academy of Medicine. “The report we’re launching today gives voice to the nearly 2,000 older Brooklynites who were asked about how to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy everything that Brooklyn has to offer.”
The report is based on 1,895 survey responses, and covers eight broad areas relating to seniors’ well-being, known as the “Eight Domains of an Age-friendly Community:” outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community support and health services.
The report makes 33 recommendations covering every issue area. Among the key recommendations are the following:
- Install more public seating throughout the borough, such as CityBenches, a New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) program that provides comfortable public seating. Priority should be given to neighborhoods with a high percentage of seniors experiencing difficulty walking.
- Ensure streets are clean and intersections are well-lit, with a particular focus on neighborhoods that have high rates of hospitalizations from falls.
- Train bus drivers to pull up fully to the curb so that seniors can get on and off the bus safely.
- Expand the Fair Fares program, which provides discounted MetroCards to low-income New Yorkers, to Access-A-Ride.
- Invest in more supportive housing for seniors to reduce the rent burden many are experiencing.
- Promote awareness of the Right to Counsel law, which provides free legal counsel to those experiencing tenant harassment, in neighborhoods where it’s currently offered, such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
- Integrate training for seniors into already-existing workforce development programs across the borough.
- Increase funding for computer and tech classes geared toward seniors administered through the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA).
- Expand access to information about news and other useful topics to neighborhoods that are predominantly made up of people for whom English is not a first language.
“We are delighted to partner with Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and The New York Academy of Medicine to help older adults lead active and meaningful lives,” said Linda E. Johnson, president of the Brooklyn Public Library. “Brooklyn Public Library maintains a strong commitment to our patrons over 50 by providing more than 3,500 programs a year focused on older adults including art workshops, technology classes, and our health and wellness series Positive Aging.”
“The voices of older New Yorkers must be heard. They are the key architects as we move to make New York City a city for all ages,” said Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, commissioner of DFTA. “I thank Borough President Adams and The New York Academy of Medicine for conducting this boroughwide survey. The results of this survey extend far beyond today’s press conference. From the recommendations, we can evaluate areas of strength and improvement as we make this city work for all ages.”
“There are two ways to gauge the health of a community: looking at its young people, and looking at its senior population. When young people can grow into able and successful adults, and when seniors can age in place with access to the appropriate support, that’s a sign of a healthy community,” saidCouncil Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. “I look forward to learning more about the findings of the ‘Age-friendly Brooklyn Report,’ and how we can make Brooklyn an even more appealing borough for senior citizens.”
“As we advance our commitment to older adults in Brooklyn through our new $10 million Brooklyn Elders Fund, we are pleased to partner with Borough President Adams and The New York Academy of Medicine to deepen our understanding of their needs and how we can make our borough truly age-friendly. This report and its findings are a welcome resource for funders, non-profits, and government agencies. It is so critical that we continue to prioritize the voices and insights of older adults as we seek to take on the diverse and complex challenges they confront day in and day out across Brooklyn,” saidCecilia Clarke, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Community Foundation.
“LiveOn NY congratulates the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office and The New York Academy of Medicine on their steadfast commitment to the Age-friendly NYC Initiative, which is ensuring that New York is the best place to age, both now and into the future,” said Allison Nickerson, executive director of LiveOn NY. “The launch of Age-friendly Brooklyn brings the work of Age-friendly NYC to a local level and the voices of older New Yorkers are so critical because Brooklyn is home to more older adults than any county in New York State. We look forward to supporting Age-friendly NYC and working with the de Blasio Administration, DFTA, City Council, NYAM, and all our partners to build on existing strengths and develop policies to transform New York into a City that helps all people, in every neighborhood and community, regardless of income, thrive in our later years.”
“Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) is thrilled to partner with NYAM and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office as we seek to further Brooklyn’s age-friendly initiative. This collaboration is deepening our work in communities throughout Brooklyn who are benefitting from enhanced programs that create powerful linkages between digital literacy and empowerment. We are committed to using this important partnership to create a more age-friendly and tech-forward borough to serve as a model for the rest of the metro area,” said Tom Kamber, founder and executive director of OATS.
“With Brooklyn’s older population projected to grow over the next decade, this report offers a valuable roadmap to the services and infrastructure required to meet the needs of older Brooklynites,” saidReggie Nance, New York associate state director of AARP. “AARP New York applauds the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office and NYAM for taking on this important survey. AARP knows from our work in communities nationwide that age-friendly improvements can better the quality of life for people of all ages.”