State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) today praised the contributions of older New Yorkers, noting that many continue to lead active lives and set an example for younger generations. Every May, we celebrate and honor our elders during Older Americans Month.
"It's often older persons who comfort the sick in hospitals, help raise their grandchildren, and deliver meals to the homebound in their communities," Senator Stavisky said. "Through small, selfless acts of service, senior citizens demonstrate the compassion for which Americans are known. In addition, many seniors are choosing to work into their seventies, making significant contributions to the workplace."
When President John F. Kennedy established Older American Month in 1963, only 7 million Americans had reached their 65th birthday. Today, there are 37 million at that milestone. By the year 2025, it is estimated that 25 percent of our nation will be over the age of 60.
"This year is a turning point because the baby boomers, one of the nation's largest generations, began turning 60," Senator Stavisky said. "Today's older adults are redefining how we age. They realize that working with their doctors to stay healthy may be as important as getting the right treatment when they're ill."
The 2006 theme of Older American's Month, "Choices for Independence" recognizes that aging well reflects a commitment to making healthy lifestyle choices, emphasizing good nutrition, regular physical activity, and active participation in one's health care. Research has shown that physical changes once thought to be an inevitable part of aging, such as muscle weakness or memory loss, can result from a lifetime of poor health habits.
According to the Queens lawmaker, New York State recently took a big step towards meeting the mental health treatment needs of older adults by adopting the Geriatric Mental Health Act of New York. "This groundbreaking law, newly funded in the 2006-2007 state budget, addresses a number of critical shortfalls in geriatric mental health services, such as limited access to services, lack of family support, and very limited capacity to serve cultural minorities," she said. "We hope the law will also lessen the long-standing stigma associated with mental illness."
The Senator concluded, "I'm pleased to honor New York's senior citizens for their long history of service to communities throughout our state. By sharing their wisdom and experience, they teach us the infinite power of patience, persistence, and forgiveness."