More than 250 attendees recently met with state and local elected officials at the Greater Rochester Area Partnership for the Elderly’s annual legislative town hall meeting.
GRAPE members and advocates brought to the attention of legislators key issues facing the area’s elder population and their caregivers.
Assemblyman Harry Bronson, D-138th District, presented key priorities he plans to focus on as a chair of the Standing Committee on Aging.
“My mother was able to age at home until the end of her life because my 11 siblings and I could provide around-the-clock care of her. Most families are not as fortunate,” he said. “I will work to implement policies allowing our older New Yorkers to age at home. I will make sure that our home care workforce is well paid, and that we support family members and friends who care for their loved ones. We also need to have policies in place so that those aging New Yorkers who are still working for financial reasons could balance that need to work with quality of life. Lastly, I will ensure that aging members of LGBTQ community have access to assisted living and other services without discrimination.”
GRAPE members asked the state and local officials in attendance to address housing options for all levels of income; protections from financial, physical and emotional abuse of the elderly; legal, financial and emotional support for family caregivers; and adequate access to telemedicine for the elderly. Specific public policy asks on behalf of GRAPE were presented by Loren Ranaletta, of Episcopal SeniorLife Communities; Paul Caccamise, of Lifespan; Jane Stets, of Crossroads Elder Services; and Dallas Nelson from the University of Rochester Medical Center.
“In its 17th edition, this year’s legislative town hall brought together a strong group of advocates and representatives of public and private agencies from Rochester and Monroe County,” said Kim Kenna, GRAPE executive director. “GRAPE members urged our elected officials to implement public policies that prioritize the needs of the aging in our communities. Special thanks to members of our advocacy committee and its chair, Richard Marchese, who helped organize this event.”
State legislators in attendance had the opportunity to interact with constituents. A group of Alzheimer’s Association advocates including Jane Adams, of Irondequoit, Bruce Holroyd, of Rochester, and Candace and Bill Ryan, of Canandaigua, asked state Sen. Rich Funke, R-55th District, and Assembly members Marjorie Byrnes, R-133rd District, and Mark Johns, R-135th District, for continued support to family caregivers who provide unpaid care to their loved ones living with dementia.
The breakfast included remarks from Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and John Cochran, assistant director of the Monroe County Office for the Aging. Ann Marie Cook, CEO of Lifespan, reviewed the state budget as it affects the elderly and family caregivers. Other officials who attended the town hall included Assembly members Peter Lawrence, R-134th District, and Brian Manktelow, R-130th District; state Sen. Joe Robach, R-56th District; Monroe County legislators Frank Allkofer, R-4th District, and John Howland, R-13th District; Gates Town Supervisor Cosmo Giunta; and East Rochester Mayor Fred Ricci.
Approximately 122,627 people ages 65 and older live in Monroe County.