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      AARP calls on state to help with caregivers and utility rates

      The AARP is on a quest to make life easier for those 50 years old and older in our community and alleviate the burden on those who care for them.

      The AARP is asking the governor to include $26 million in the 2014 New York State budget to help clear the wait list for services through the state's Office for the Aging, and help utility rate payers.

      Right now, more than 7,000 older New Yorkers on a waiting list for non-Medicaid services such as transportation, home delivery meals and respite care. These services are offered through the Office for the Aging, but are not utilized to their full potential because of the waiting list.

      Instead of living comfortably in their communities, and aging at home, the AARP says more people are being sent to costly nursing homes, and that this is not always necessary.

      "Let's get these people services, some of these people are on wait lists for years and by the time they get to the end of their wait lists, they're not appropriate for the services anymore. They might be in a nursing home or even worse," Bill Armbruster, Associate New York State Director for AARP says.

      He says historically, one of the biggest reasons people go to nursing homes is because their caregivers get burned out.

      "People want to be at home whether it's the home they grew up in or the apartment or the condo they transition to, people want to receive care in the setting of their choice. There's a greater outcome, the quality of life is better. Stress on caregivers are better also," Armbruster says.

      "This is about community. This is where they raise their children, and go to church if they went to church. They go to the hairdresser, they go to get their groceries. How do we allow these people to age in their community and be a part of the community to show the respect they deserve," he says.

      The AARP is also pushing for funding in the state budget to allow for an independent consumer advocate to rally for utility ratepayers.

      The organization says utility companies spend $10 million a year pushing for rate increases, which get passed onto customers.

      New York pays the highest average residential electric rates in the United States.