This data brief is part of a series--"City Voices: New Yorkers on Health"--developed to give a voice to the health needs of people in the city who are often unheard. "Aging: Health Challenges and the Role of Social Connections" does this by highlighting informative personal experiences of primarily low-income, older adult New Yorkers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. More than 1 million New York City residents, or 12 percent of the total population, are age 65 or older, a number projected to increase by 41 percent over the next 20 years. In 2014, a mixed-method community needs assessment (CNA) was conducted including 2,875 surveys with primarily low-income New Yorkers in four boroughs, 81 focus groups, and 41 key informant interviews. Low-income older adults participating in the CNA were diverse with respect to age (the oldest participant being 102), race/ethnicity and neighborhood. We found that low-income older adults in New York are facing difficulties meeting basic needs, and are forced to make difficult choices, including the choice between buying food and medications. Older adults also reported relatively high prevalence of chronic disease and co-morbidities, which can be exacerbated by loneliness and social isolation; issues that were frequently reported by focus group participants and older adult service providers. Major challenges to accessing care included insufficient geriatric services, the growing complexity in the current health care system, and the lack of reliable, accessible transportation. Better coordination and integration of health and social services, as well as the expansion of health and wellness programs offered at senior centers, were recommended by key informants and focus group participants as potential ways to improve health outcomes and quality of life for older adults.
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