Community Foundation Publishes Final Report on Assessment of Senior Needs in Herkimer & Oneida Counties

The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, in conjunction with the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, has released its final report on the assessment of senior needs in Herkimer and Oneida counties. The assessment helps identify what programs and services are needed to allow local seniors to remain living independently in their communities.

Both Herkimer and Oneida counties are experiencing the “graying” phenomenon that has affected much of the country. According to U.S. Census data from 2010, baby boomers represent nearly one-third of the population in each county. As the senior population has grown over the past decade, the number of individuals age 39 or younger has simultaneously declined.

In response to this population shift, The Foundation embarked on an initiative to engage community stakeholders in a process of information gathering and consensus building known as concept mapping. Nearly 250 seniors, service providers and community members in Herkimer and Oneida counties participated in focus groups and surveys in 2015. Their feedback helped to ascertain what steps The Foundation and its partners might take in assisting the aging population to remain living independently.

Like ideas and recommendations were grouped into six categories: medical needs, financial assistance, help at home, service accessibility, social/recreational activities and cohesive community.

Key findings of the assessment included:

  • Both counties are successful in providing ample social/recreational activities and community-related programs for seniors.
  • Seniors believe services and programs pertaining to medical needs, financial assistance, help at home and service accessibility are essential to independent living. However, there is capacity for additional programs and services in each of these areas to fully address seniors’ needs.
  • An assessment of the data by geographic location revealed the importance of customizing programs and services to the community being served, especially in terms of a rural versus urban environment. Seniors prioritized needs differently depending on the type of community they lived in.

“The assessment reinforced what many in our community already know – we have a significant number of well-established and successful programs and services for seniors in our counties. Our goal is to bring greater awareness to these existing services, and to identify opportunities for new or expanded services that would address an unfulfilled need,” said Jan Squadrito, senior community investment manager at The Foundation.

Service providers and community leaders will convene at The Foundation on Thursday, June 23, for a facilitated discussion on the final results and to brainstorm ideas on how to work together to better serve seniors in the community.

Funding opportunities exist through The Foundation and the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York to implement projects and programs that address seniors’ needs.

A PDF of the final report is available for download on The Foundation website at www.foundationhoc.org/seniorstudy. To obtain a paper copy, please contact Jan Squadrito at 315-731-3728 or jsquadrito@foundationhoc.org.