Rural areas of New York are getting grayer, and it's leading to concerns by advocates at AARP that they do not have the same access to needed services.
Older New Yorkers living in rural areas struggle to access basic health care services and can face problems that grow out of isolation. Those are the findings from a report released this week by the AARP.
"All these things are really critical to a person's well being and the quality of their life," said Beth Finkel, the state director for the AARP in New York.
The lack of access to health care can lead to other problems for older New Yorkers in rural locations. Illnesses like cancer and heart disease can become more prevalent, Finkel said.
"If you can't see a physician on a regular basis who is monitoring your health, you don't know when you're in that most critical position," she said.
Rural communities in upstate New York have steadily gotten older as younger residents move away, often for job opportunities that can only be found in cities.
The report pointed to the need for policymakers in New York to prioritize ways of helping older residents in rural areas, including more funding for direct caregivers.
At the same time, services for ambulances, hospital networks and aiding caregivers through provisions like tax credits could provide some help.
And in the long run, this can help save money by keeping people in their homes.
"They support the local businesses, they pay their local property taxes, so it's in the best interest of counties, the state, everyone to keep people at home as long as possible," Finkel said.