Nora O'Brien-Suric is the president of the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York. She also serves as head of the New York State Master Plan for Aging Coalition, advocating support for a statewide blueprint ensuring the proper treatment of older adults.
"We have up to 100 organizations that are now signed on to the master plan," she said.
She wrote a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul asking her to establish the framework of a master plan for aging in her State of the State and budget address, which she did last year and mentioned again this year.
"We're all aging. So, this is going to just make a better society for everybody," said O'Brien-Suric.
Hochul also appointed O'Brien-Suric to a public advisory committee comprised of experts on aging to identify and address the issues included in the master plan.
"My goal in life was to improve the care of older adults and work to create a better society that cares for older people and provides them with the dignity and respect that older people deserve," said O'Brien-Suric.
Greg Olsen from the state Office for Aging and Adam Herbst from the state Department of Health are spearheading the effort and will work with O'Brien-Suric on issues facing a lot of seniors like health care, transportation, medicine management, socialization, housing and volunteering.
Leaders say the goal is to ensure the health and well-being of all older New Yorkers, by keeping them in their homes, or improving nursing home care, as well as combating issues like isolation and elder abuse.
"The issue of aging and long term care has been elevated. The master plan is going to have the resources it needs and the convening power to build a network with that one aim which is to serve aging New Yorkers and those with long term disabilities," said Herbst.
Adam said he and Greg will help rebuild a foundation for a stable and equitable system, as well as develop strategies that'll lead to the group issuing recommendations, coordinating policy and investing in programs.
"Actions that we are taking now, to prepare for the challenges ahead are critical," said Herbst.
Other components leading up to the plan include conducting a comprehensive survey, as well as hosting public information and input sessions.
"We have to do something. This is an opportunity not only in the short term to reimagine and reinvigorate how we serve older adults regardless of where they are at a certain time, but also a longer term strategy and how we impact people in their 20's 30's and 40's and children," said Olsen.
Together with O'Brien-Suric, the group will now carry out the state's plan to combat ageism and acknowledge the contributions older adults make to society.
"It's so important that older adults themselves, and their family members, stand up and say we deserve the care," said O'Brien-Suric.
The committee hopes to have a final draft to the governor by early next year.
According to the state Office for Aging, 36% of the state's population is 50 and older. The population contributes 43% of the state's gross domestic product, which equates to just under $720 billion. They also contribute more than 495 volunteer hours.