County Executive Bruce Blakeman has made the lives of senior citizens across Nassau County more convenient by signing a proclamation requiring county agencies to designate a liaison for seniors.
Blakeman put pen to paper while visiting the Glen Cove Senior Center on Feb. 23. The initiative is set to give seniors better access to county services and benefits. He also presented a new bus to help with the center’s transportation needs.
The county initiative, and the new bus, are steps in the right direction for seniors like Carol Rubin, who struggles to get around town. The 101-year-old attributes her longevity to a fair amount of luck and being physically active, but her social ties are most important to her.
Rubin said it’s been difficult navigating the city without a car. She stopped driving in April 2022, when her eyesight affected her driving. Riding the bus from the senior center gives her a chance to socialize and save money.
“Having the bus is a tremendous help,” Rubin said. “If I didn’t have the bus, I’d be taking taxis all the time.”
The City of Glen Cove took steps to help its aging population when it became a Nassau County Age-Friendly Center of Excellence. The city is one of five Centers of Excellence in New York state.
AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities is an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program, “an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities prepare for rapid population aging and the parallel trend of urbanization,” according to the website.
“I know Nassau County is filled with senior centers. I happen to think ours is stellar,” said Glen Cove Mayor Pamela Pan
zenbeck. “The senior center is a home away from home for so many people,”
Senior centers are more vital as people are living longer. In Nassau, the 65-to-69 age group rose from 80,398 in 2020 to 81,776 a year later. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of U.S. residents 65 years and older will increase by 105.2 percent by 2060. Residents 50 and older account for nearly a 75 percent increase in the growth of population in Nassau County.
“New York’s 65-and-older population is over 3.5 million people right now,” Blakeman said. “That’s larger than many states.”
Blakeman said the new liaison office will network with all government agencies in Nassau County. He added the office will “break down the silos and barriers [to make sure seniors] have access to everything Nassau County has to offer.”
The liaison office is comprised of one representative from each county department serving as a point person on senior issues, while interfacing with the Office of the Aging. It will function at no additional cost to county residents.
According to Beth Finkel, state director for AARP, the organization has more than 250,000 members in the county. She said the new liaison office can improve communication between various agencies serving seniors, including the Department of Health, libraries, college campuses and parks.
“This will create a more seamless way for people to get a good response to some of their issues,” Blakeman said.
Blakeman noted that seniors have many of the same needs as other residents, but often need more assistance fulfilling tasks like filling out tax forms.
“Some of our seniors are veterans and we want to make sure they get their benefits,” Blakeman said.
The city’s new bus will be funded through state and local grants. The buses are mainly for transportation for seniors that live in Glen Cove, GlenHead, Sea Cliff, and Glenwood Landing. The buses offer rides twice daily from the senior center picking up members from their homes.
“We also have food shopping twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays, where (the bus) takes them from the senior center to Stop and Shop because that’s the only one here now,” Jacqui Tecce, site manager for senior center, said.
Tecce said the center has two drivers, with one designated to its adult day program for seniors experiencing cognitive decline. The buses were bought in 2011, 2016, 2018, and the newest addition will serve as a backup.
“[Seniors] are the foundation of this county,” Blakeman said. “They are the foundation of America, they built this country.”