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: Yoga, pickleball and rides to Walmart — this program wants to help older New Yorkers age in place

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Older New Yorkers will have more access to information to allow them to age in place more successfully with the help of an app being used by the county offices on aging.

The New York State Office for the Aging, which works to help the state’s 4.6 million older adults, and AgingNY partnered with agetech company Blooming Health to improve older adults’ awareness and connection to community-based aging services.

The app allows social workers and service providers in the offices for the aging to reach older adults and caregiver clients through text, voice calls, emails. It’s available in more than 25 languages. Blooming Health’s app has already been used in parts of New York, as well as Arizona and California.

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“Whether it’s food pantry information or SNAP benefits, or Walmart trips, or wellness services like free yoga or pickleball in their area, the providers can provide more targeted information that allows the older adult to age more successfully at home,” said Blooming Health co-founder and chief commercial officer Kavitha Gnanasambandan.

The older adult clients do not need access to broadband internet or a smart device to receive the communication. They will receive a phone call, email or text message from the provider like they normally would—but more quickly and more targeted to their needs, she said. 

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The offices for the aging can also receive data on clients’ needs and outcomes, coordinate care, and better manage their population’s health risks, Gnanasambandan said.

“Blooming Health is an additional tool that aging services providers can utilize to drive engagement, decrease social isolation and loneliness, and improve health outcomes,” said AgingNY executive director Becky Preve.

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The need for aging-in-place support is growing as 81 million people in the U.S. will be 65 years or older by 2040. An overwhelming 90% of older adults prefer to age in place in their own homes and communities, research shows. However, only 50% of them are confident they can age in place, due to the barriers in accessing supportive services. 

Last year, New York’s offices for the aging served more than 1.3 million older New Yorkers and their family caregivers. That number is expected to increase over 20% by 2025. The app will allow the offices for the aging to better handle that volume increase.

Blooming Health said it has contributed to a threefold increase in older adult engagement for existing client, while saving two hours per day in outreach capacity for program staff and garnering an 85% satisfaction rate for older adult end-users. 

Through a recent collaboration with the AARP Foundation and New York City-based community organizations, Blooming Health helped drive a fivefold increase in the number of older adults applying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits compared to 2021. 

Under this partnership, Blooming Health also helped reduce the time between initial outreach to older adults about SNAP benefits and their submission of an application for these benefits, from 57 days to 30 days. 

The new contract will allow Blooming Health to reach more offices on aging in New York and measure the success of the program to allow potential expansion in the future.

New York City’s Department of Aging has been working to improve the lives of older adults in various ways. This summer, the department launched the Silver Stars program, which aims to get retirees back in city jobs, and provide an opportunity to earn more money when they may have otherwise been stretching their dollars in retirement.

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