Lindsey Boylan’s Plan For
In and around our district in New York City, senior facilities are in crisis. The New Jewish Home recorded 21 deaths, The Riverside recorded 22 deaths, and Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare recorded 34 deaths, according to a new state list of deaths that occurred inside nursing homes. And those are just the ones we know about. Senior cases are underreported because of 1) red tape in reporting data in nursing homes, and 2) the high number of home deaths of people who have not had access to go to a hospital or get tested.
Congress was already falling behind the needs of older Americans before the COVID-19 pandemic. There is so much more we have to do now. And we must have a sustainable plan for the future.
Lindsey Boylan is committed to ensuring that seniors of NY-10 have not only access to basic necessities, but a high quality of life. This pandemic has shown that Social Security and Medicare are essential and need to be protected, but that is not enough. We must create a forward-looking plan for older Americans in the aftermath of this public crisis. Our country requires new solutions for long-term elder care, affordable housing, and the provision of high quality, comprehensive mental health care specifically tailored to the needs of seniors.
Long-Term Care for Seniors
Seniors are one of the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19; it’s clear that the benefits of Medicaid must be available before those most at risk are forced into poverty — and that coverage must expand beyond nursing homes.
It is estimated that 70% of seniors will require long-term care in their lifetime. Medicare only provides for short-term care. Private long-term care insurance is an expensive luxury that many seniors and families cannot afford. Many millennials are caring for an aging parent and young children at the same time while working full-time. This is a commitment of time and money they often do not have. Seniors must get the services and support they need to age with dignity, which necessitates comprehensive solutions for long-term care that includes support for families and caregivers.
Ms. Boylan proposes:
- Supporting Medicare for All that includes comprehensive coverage for dental, vision, hearing.
- Covering home health aides and other services like medication management to help seniors stay in their homes. These are essential services and should be covered as a component of Medicare for All.
- Supporting family caregivers through a national paid family leave policy, making sure caregivers receive Social Security workers credits for the time they spend taking care of seniors and tax credits for stay-at-home caretakers who are caring for ailing or aging relatives.
- Expanding Disability Programs That Work for seniors who develop physical disabilities as they age. These programs should build on existing disability programs that make it easier for our aging community members to qualify for programs that help them access the things they need like grab bars, safety rails, and delivery services for essentials like food, toiletries, and medicine, transportation doctors, and banks.
- Funding alternative support systems with a holistic approach to geriatric healthcare including research, geriatricians, and home health professionals.
Given New York City’s housing crisis, low-income seniors are struggling to afford a place to call home. Social Security is a powerful anti-poverty tool for seniors, but it is insufficient for any middle-income seniors who currently spend a high percentage of their income on rent. They will “age into poverty”. This is an unacceptable outcome. No senior should have to worry about not being able to afford housing in the richest city in the world.
Ms. Boylan is determined to ensure that current and future seniors are able to age in place — stay in their homes and communities safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of their income. She supports:
- Housing as a human right through a National Homes Guarantee.
- Increasing the supply of affordable housing by revitalizing the Section 202 program, which has not been funded since 2012. This will increase the supply of affordable housing for the elderly with services that allow them to live independently with support activities such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation.
- Protecting renters’ rights by regulating predatory lenders and landlords; creating federal rent control and vacancy control standards; restricting evictions; and funding the right to counsel for tenants.
- Supporting homeowners who want to stay in their own house through tax credits, and providing exemptions for seniors who require home improvements to make homes livable for aging needs.
Mental Health Care
One in four adults aged 65 and older live with mental health conditions. The number of seniors living with mental health conditions is estimated to double by 2030 with dementia and depression cited as the most common neuropsychiatric disorders in older adults. Social isolation and the pain associated with chronic physical illness predispose seniors to depression. In fact, social isolation is proven to be as bad for one’s health as insufficient exercise and smoking. Tragically, individuals over 85 die by suicide at a higher rate than any other age group. Social distancing during this public health crisis will take a major toll on the mental health of older Americans.
When Ms. Boylan talks about her support for healthcare as a human right, that includes mental health on par with physical health. She seeks to ensure that quality, comprehensive mental health care is available for all Americans. She plans to address the specific mental health needs of seniors by:
- Expanding access to mental health services through Medicare for All and enforcing mental health parity laws.
- Eliminating the stigma that people face in seeking treatment. To help accomplish this, mental health screenings should be integrated into primary care visits.
- Funding services for community engagement and friendly visits from volunteers and/or social workers which has proven to have a dramatically positive impact on seniors’ mental health.
- Improve Transportation for Seniors who often face difficult transportation options that heighten social isolation. As we invest in transportation infrastructure, Ms. Boylan will ensure that the needs of seniors are addressed.
“Our nation’s policies are lagging far behind the realities of our aging population. We must address the new normal. We need long term solutions in place to account for our lives, and our loved ones, as we approach seniority.” — Lindsey Boylan
For more information, please visit lindseyboylan.com.