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Innovation key to making central New York elderly-friendly

Central New York will need to innovate and come up with new ideas about how to address the needs of its senior population. That was the message of a forum held to discuss how to shape an age-friendly region.

Transportation issues and accessible technology were two areas this region needs to work on, which were  discussed at the event, co-sponsored by FOCUS Greater Syracuse and SUNY Oswego Active Aging and Community Engagement Center.

The two groups recently participated in a year-long study “that looked at issues that were problematic to boomers or helped them age better,” said Kim Armani, executive director of SUNY’s aging center.

Armani said the number one issue that residents identified was transportation, particularly accessibility.

Andrew Maxwell, director of the Syracuse-Onondaga County Planning Agency says Syracuse should look at other cities as examples to improve transportation.

"Well I think if you look around the country, you look at other communities and you see what they're doing with their public transportation systems there are a few keys to making it successful -- cleanliness, safety, reliability,” said Maxwell. “And I know those are the things we as a community are focused on and the leadership at CENTRO continue to be focused on.”

Maxwell says accessibility is the key.

“So that requires investment. That requires people to be engaged and brought in to express to CENTRO and the community at large to what's needed to make the system as accessible as possible," said Maxwell.

Armani says winter weather also hinders transportation accessibility.

Chuckie Holstein, the executive director of FOCUS, is encouraging senior citizens to reach out and express their ideas of what improvements they want in the community. She says central New York has “always been a creative community.”