By Kathryn Carroll, Esq. Disability and Program Coordinator, Association on Aging in New York


Smiling older Hispanic woman wearing a green t-shirt that says “volunteer” on it, standing in front of boxes holding donations.


May is Older Americans Month, when we celebrate the place of older adults in our communities. The federal government’s theme for 2024 is Powered by Connection,” which “recognizes the profound impact that meaningful relationships and social connections have on our health and well-being.” Here in New York, we also celebrate Older New Yorkers Day, which will occur on May 14th this year. The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) annually helps us honor older New Yorkers from around the state for their volunteerism.


We are grateful to all older adults who donate their time, resources, and talents to the community.
Many older adults give back within the aging services provider network that supports other older adults. Aging services rely extensively on volunteers to ensure basic services are delivered, whether by area agencies on aging or by any of the more than 1,200 additional service providers. Volunteers deliver meals, provide rides, inform and counsel people on health insurance options, staff programs at older adult centers, and raise money for special events.


The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) which provides advocacy and resources for older adults and persons with disabilities who live in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, adult homes, assisted living facilities and family-type homes relies on volunteers to be a presence at sites. In 2021, this program had 240 certified volunteers providing advocacy services. Even with volunteers regularly stepping up to fill needs, area agencies on aging must regularly ask for volunteers to perform critical work that keeps older people living at home and in the community and numerous sites are not getting the required visits from the LTCOP.
The value of volunteering and civic engagement like the above by those aged 45 and older is over $13 billion annually.


We should also remember the world of unpaid caregiving – the voluntary care and support by friends and family who make daily life possible for people with disabilities of all ages. New York has approximately 4.1 million unpaid caregivers who provide the bulk of the long-term care. If we paid unpaid caregivers at the market rate for their services, it would be $32 billion dollars per year.


The immense reliance on unpaid work to make daily life, aging-in-place, and independence possible for older adults underscores why we honor the people who do that work and advocate every day for greater investment in aging and disability services.


If you or a loved one are aged 60 older or are a caregiver and in need of services, please don’t hesitate to contact your local area agency on aging whose information you can find on the NYSOFA website.


The mission of the Association on Aging in New York is to support and enhance the capacity of New York’s local Area Agencies on Aging and to work in collaboration with the aging network to promote independence, preserve dignity, and advocate on the behalf of aging New Yorkers and their families. AgingNY wants to be a strong partner in creating a New York free of ageism and ableism. Learn about us at, and follow us at @AgingNY on X, and Aging New York on Facebook and Instagram.