Senior Boarding Bee-line BusTransportation was cited by wide margins as both the greatest need for Westchester County seniors today, and their greatest anticipated need in the future, according to a county survey released Jan. 6. 

Some 700 people responded to the federally mandated Priority Pulse survey, which the county’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) conducted last fall. 

DSPS included the data in a larger report that it sent to the New York State Office for the Aging to set policies and priorities the four-year period from 2012 to 2016. The state, in turn, will forward the findings to the federal Administration on Aging as mandated by the Older Americans Act.

The questionnaire participants completed asked two questions on 21 topics that also included health care, mental health counseling and family caregiver support.

The questions in the anonymous survey followed the same format in each category. In the “transportation” category, for example, participants were asked to indicate if they currently have “no” need for transportation or a “low,” “moderate” or “significant” need.  The second question asked them to check off one of those four answers for their anticipated needs in the future.

DSPS said that survey respondents indicated that income security is the second greatest need today followed by affordable housing, third; home health care services, fourth and property taxes, fifth.

Affordable housing was cited as their second greatest anticipated need in the future followed by income security, third; home health care services, fourth and long-term care, fifth.

The need for transportation topped both lists because many of the elderly – particularly older women – no longer are able to drive, said DSPS Commissioner Mae Carpenter.

“Their mobility is restricted,” Carpenter said. “Also, a lot of older people might have impairments which make it difficult to drive – especially at night. People don’t want to be isolated, and mobility is so important to have a good quality of life.”

Carpenter also said that surveys such as Priority Pulse are important because they highlight gaps in services and unmet needs.

“These gaps can have a domino effect,” she said. “If you can’t get around, you might miss a doctor’s appointment or might not be able to pick up your medicine or buy food. These surveys help us to see where to put our shrinking dollars to have the greatest impact.”