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As the older adult population growth accelerates in the next 15 years, nearly 70% of those over 65 will need some form of long-term care, and 20% will need care for longer than 5 years. As currently designed, our health, long-term care and social sectors are not equipped to provide comprehensive supports for a growing population.

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The Finger Lakes region is well-known for its collaborative partnerships that leverage resources and collectively address systemic shortfalls and barriers to improving the health and well-being of its residents. Despite repeated demonstration projects that have proven impact with statistical significance, progress stalls when projects end due to a lack of sustained funding mechanisms. Nonetheless, leaders remain committed to collectively sharing strategies that will improve the health and well-being of older adults in communities throughout the region.

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The largest barrier to affordable and accessible long-term health care and social services in the Finger Lakes region is an antiquated health care finance strategy, coupled with an imbalanced distribution of resources. Health disparities exist across all older adult populations, including racial, ethnic, Deaf, disabled, native, immigrant, rural, urban and suburban populations.

Between now and 2040, the older adult population in the Finger Lakes Region is projected to grow, while the younger populations decline, reducing availability of both family caregivers and health care workers.

Common Ground Health's Sage II Commission report informs the New York State Master Plan for Aging


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Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency (FLHSA), now Common Ground Health, published a comprehensive long‐range plan that was developed by the Sage Commission to project the future health care service needs for adults 65 years and older in the Finger Lakes region by 2030. The original 2011 Sage Commission plan focused on rightsizing institutional and long-term care capacity, increasing the array of home and community‐based services, informal caregiving, housing, workforce, and transportation.

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In January of 2020, leaders in the Finger Lakes region gathered for the inaugural meeting of the 2020 Sage II Commission. The purpose of the Commission was a follow-up to the 2011 strategic and long-range plan designed to meet the needs of the growing older adult population by the year 2030.


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Two months after the Sage II Commission's inaugural meeting in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began.

COVID-19 disproportionately affected older adults, most devastatingly in hospitals, nursing homes and other group care settings. It changed health care delivery with temporary closure of in-person services, delayed elective and non-urgent care, and tremendously increased the need for health-related social support services. Older adults, especially those living alone, experienced dramatic rises in isolation, loneliness and fear. It also accelerated a looming health and social services workforce crisis.

The pandemic exposed our greatest systemic weaknesses: insufficient funding, resource distribution, and regulatory burdens. These issues persist, negatively affecting the community’s collective ability to meet the broad needs of older adults with grave consequences.

March 2020

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After a hiatus driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Commission members reconvened in 2022 to review updated regional trends and discuss the numerous challenges worsened by the pandemic. They grappled with pervasive systemic limitations in search of prioritizing solutions addressable by the Finger Lakes Region as a diverse community.


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Common Ground Health's CEO Wade Norwood, and Ann Marie Cook, CEO of Lifespan and Sage II Commission co-chair, are appointed to represent the Finger Lakes region on the 28-member Stakeholder Advisory Committee for New York’s Master Plan for Aging.

June 2023

"When an elder dies, a library burns to the ground." - African proverb

Sept. 2023

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The Sage II Commission releases its new report and recommendations to inform the NYS Master Plan on Aging. (DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT)

The Finger Lakes region has a longstanding history of working together around a shared purpose and developing actionable solutions. Implementation of recommendations requires an ongoing dialogue and commitment from organizational and community colleagues, key stakeholders and decision makers. Commission members remain committed to collaborating with all stakeholders — including aging services providers, funders, elected officials, the State Department of Health, older adults and caregivers. Together, we will inform long-term development goals, forge partnerships, and advocate for legislative action to shape future policies.

The success of our collective aspirational goals to redesign, rebalance and reimagine the long term care system begins now.

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"It's not how old you are. It's how you are old." - Jules Renard

The Sage II Commission recommends prioritizing the following:

• Acknowledge that as a community ageism is an existential threat to our work and the well-being of older adults.

• Expand and create equitable social health and prevention programs to solve disparities caused by race, ethnicity, income, and geography.

• Educate and support family and other “informal” caregivers.

• Increase the integration and coordination of medical and social services.

• Avoid duplication of programs and instead jointly and completely fund proven programs and services.

• Increase the number of affordable and accessible housing units.

• Expand accessible low- or no-cost transportation services for medical and non-medical trips.

• Retain and grow the health care and social services workforce.

• Leverage community partnerships with local, state and federal representatives who are committed to rebalancing and redesigning the long-term care infrastructure with public and private financing and policies.