New York state has been designated the first age-friendly state in the nation by the AARP and the World Health Organization. This achievement is a result of a directive to include health in state agency policy-making, an effort that will result in more livable communities for people of all ages and enable more New Yorkers to age comfortably in their homes.
“This administration has worked to create livable communities that support the unique needs of seniors and improve quality of life for all New Yorkers,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “As we continue to support community development efforts that deliver health and wellness opportunities for residents, we are honored to be recognized by two of the world’s most prestigious organizations for establishing New York as the first age-friendly state in the nation.”
In order to achieve this designation, New York ranked high in the eight age-friendly and livable community domains outlined by WHO and AARP, which include: outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, work and civic engagement, communication and information, and community and health services.
New York also ranks among the top 10 states in the nation for health, up from its ranking as the 40th healthiest state in 1990. This marks the largest five-year gain of all 50 states in the 2017 annual America’s Health Rankings report.
Efforts to become an age-friendly state are supported by the governor’s new Health Across All Policies initiative, announced in the 2017 State of the State address, to incorporate health and healthy aging into State Agency decision making. Officials said this approach utilizes the goals of the state Department of Health’s prevention agenda, the blueprint to improve the health of all New Yorkers in five priority areas and reduce health disparities. Meeting these goals—which include reductions in obesity and diabetes, improvements in environmental health, and enhancements in mental health services—will require attention to factors outside of health care, such as access to outdoor spaces and healthy foods, and improvements in education, housing and jobs.
In the State of the State address, Cuomo tasked state agencies with earning designation as the first age-friendly state. The event marks the accomplishment and partners with the largest and one of the most active outreach organizations in America, signaling the reasons why Boomers should stay in and move to New York state.
Since 2012, the state Office for the Aging and the Department of State have been working collaboratively on the Livable New York Initiative, which aims to support the development of more liveable communities across the state, officials said. This multi-agency effort resulted in the establishment of a technical assistance resource manual to guide municipalities as they seek to make planning decisions around improving livability and mobility.
AARP Senior Vice President for Programs Jean Setzfand said New York “will be the model, showing other states the way.”
AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said, “AARP New York is thrilled that ours has become the first state in the nation to be recognized with the Age-Friendly Network. Gov. Cuomo is showing great vision, foresight and leadership. His action will prompt a rethinking of how all of our communities are structured for the benefit not only of the 50+ but for New Yorkers of all ages. Improvements across the state such as more bus stop shelters and benches, better sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly streets, and parks where grandparents can take their grandchildren during working hours will help all generations.”
State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said New York state “is truly at its best when it meets the needs of all its residents. By making it the first age-friendly state in the nation, we are working to ensure that all New Yorkers will have access to safer, more livable, healthy communities that will serve as an inspiration to states throughout the country. This is another of example of how we are making New York the healthiest state for people of all ages.”