Seniors Age 75+

Across Buffalo Niagara, over 35,700 individuals age 75 and up live in or near poverty. This represents 41% of all individuals in this age, with 10% living in poverty and 31% with incomes near the poverty level. Half of these lower-income seniors are aging in place in a home they own. Expensive home repairs, financial stress, isolation and disability are some of the challenges they face.

Click here to learn more about the income levels for individuals and families living in or near poverty.

35,700+ seniors in Buffalo Niagara
live in or near poverty.

The poverty rate for residents age 75 and up increased slightly between 2011 and 2017.

Voices from the Community

A long-time resident seeks to maintain her independence as she ages.

Anna

Anna is a long-time, Buffalo-born resident. She lives alone in a two-bedroom home in Buffalo. She values the amenities her neighborhood offers. Anna’s only son lives across the country. She speaks with pride about his career.

Anna has relatives in the area but does not see them much. “They are busy; they have their own families.” Few of them know about the day-to-day challenges Anna faces with tasks like making the bed or grocery shopping. With two bad shoulders from decades in a physically demanding job, Anna uses a walker to get around. “I’m very independent. If I can’t do it, I will go without.” She is now in her 80s. She still drives, but her car is getting old. Her significant other left her the car. She inherited another from him too, but she sold it to pay for home repairs.

These days her budget for home repairs is slim. “My fridge is breaking down….my home needs electrical work that I can’t afford.” Anna lives on Social Security and a small pension that purchases health insurance to supplement Medicare. Even with good coverage, medical expenses consume a large part of her budget. She has about $300 in unpaid co-pays. She wishes she qualified for Medicaid and the coverage it provides for dental and eyeglasses. Her insurance does offer six hours a week of in-home assistance, but she doesn’t tell anyone she still drives. “I wish I could get help without restrictions. There is nothing available for people unless they are an invalid.”

“I’m very independent. If I can’t do it, I will go without.”

Voices from the Community

Staying mobile is this senior’s biggest challenge.

Barbara

Barbara is just shy of 75 years old. She lives with her husband, grandson, and great grandson. She loves living in Springville. She speaks highly about the variety of youth activities and the services available for people of all ages, especially those at the Trading Post. “The Trading Post is really a central point for people in the community to come together. It’s one of the community’s greatest assets.”

Yet Barbara also notices some challenges in the community. Transportation is the greatest barrier she sees. “If you don’t have a car, you need Medicaid to get anywhere.” Barbara is not aware of any transportation service that takes Medicare and does not know where to find any information about other transportation services. The Trading Post and Sardinia Town Hall are her go-to places for information about what is available.

Lack of transportation limits her from accessing county services in Buffalo. Even though she qualifies for programs such as HEAP, she does not utilize these resources because Buffalo is too far away.

Barbara had a car but it needs repairs she can’t afford. At one point, she saved two months of social security checks just to pay for car repairs. Saving money for car repairs leaves less money for other household expenses and emergencies. She described how they put off fixing their broken furnace for months because they could not afford it.

If Barbara could improve her community, she would enhance transportation services and healthcare. She thinks an on-demand medical bus would be a good way to help residents get to the medical services they need without relying on friends and family.

If you don’t have a car, you need Medicaid to get anywhere.”

Voices from the Community

After her recovery from addiction, an older resident seeks new opportunities through job training and shares her story to help others.

Leah

Today Leah lives in an upstairs apartment not far from the Falls and the Gorge. She is 75 years young. She really likes the location and her apartment with a patio but is less keen on the long staircase leading up to her space. They are challenging but she manages for now. “Once I’m up, I’m up, when I’m down, I’m down.”

Leah shared her story while riding the bus across town. A lifelong resident of Niagara Falls, she has children and extended family in the area, not to mention long-time friends. “I have a very good support team.” Leah describes one friend in particular who has been in her life, through thick and thin, since they were 12 years old. “I’m so thankful to God for people like that in my life. I have several people I can say that
about. I’m blessed, all the way around, I’m just truly blessed.”

Leah has much to be thankful for, but her life has had its ups and downs. Not long ago Leah lost nearly everything to drugs and addiction. It pulled her in slowly, over years, and away from the things that mattered most. It came to a head after she retired, when the kids where grown and her life was less structured. “It’s a very important thing, to keep myself busy, doing positive and constructive things in my life. Before I got into drugs, that’s what helped me a lot…before I entered this world of darkness.”

As a younger, single mother Leah was busier than most, balancing work and child rearing. She started her career in health care but she left when a job opened up at the largest manufacturing plant in town. Back in the day, it employed nearly a fifth of workers in Niagara Falls. “Nurses got part of their pay in gratitude, but it’s hard to put gratitude on the table for a meal,” Leah states in explaining why she jumped at the chance for the job in manufacturing.

Today Leah is exploring ways to help those in addictions recovery and encourage them through her story. Her time battling addiction included a run-in with the law, a stint in rehab, over a year in transitional housing, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, counseling, meals at Heart, Love and Soul, church groups, and her faith in God. “God is good. He is my life.”

Leah speaks highly of the supports available through Access-VR (formerly VESID). They help individuals find a job. They pay for
training. They cover the cost of uniforms and a monthly bus pass. “It’s a great program,” explains Leah. “But you have to put the work
in. You have to do a lot of footwork. You have to be fully committed to getting your life back together.” Leah learned the training she
seeks is available Lockport. “I don’t mind taking the bus. It takes a little longer on the bus but anything worth having is worth fighting for.”

Reflecting back on her experience and the wide range of programs that supported her recovery, Leah says, “It’s so hard to pull yourself up. It took a lot of courage…Coming out of treatment and away from addiction, we tend to think we are ready to try our wings long before we are…It’s a whole new life [that I have now]. I’m so grateful.”

“It’s a very important thing, to keep myself busy, doing positive and constructive things in my life. Before I got into drugs, that’s what helped me a lot…before I entered this world of darkness.”

Over 200 human service providers and leaders use Numbers in Need to find information, build partnerships, pursue funding and advocate for their community.

Tell us how you’re using Numbers in Need

“This data has been instrumental in finding what our community looks like and what obstacles we need to tackle to move ahead.”

“I have repeatedly and often share this data with colleagues and community members.”