29 November 2023- Pennsylvania is home to more than 13 million people according to the 2020 Census, with more than 2.5 million of those residents being aged 65 and older. The growth rate of the Commonwealth’s older adult population is more than 20 times higher than the growth rate of its entire population. As the population ages, we expect many will remain here to live out their golden years. According to U.S. News & World Report, that seems to be a good thing.
The company recently released its ranking of the 150 best places to retire in the U.S. and seven of the top 10 are in Pennsylvania. Harrisburg took top honors, followed by Reading, Lancaster, Scranton, Allentown, York, and Pittsburgh. The company looked at six areas as part of its ranking results: affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, job market, and health care quality.
One of many critical factors that sets us apart is the Pennsylvania Lottery — the only state lottery that designates all its proceeds to programs for older adults. That money translates into supports offered through the Commonwealth’s 52 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), which coordinate services on the local level including home-delivered meals, 500 Senior Centers, in-home services, protective services, and more. The Lottery proceeds also support the PACE program, a national model which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of providing low-cost prescriptions to over 1.6 million qualified older Pennsylvanians.
Another popular Lottery-funded program serving older adults for decades is the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program (PTRR). Administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, this program provides older adults rebates on property taxes and rent paid in a previous year.
The current budget also invests an additional $1 million in Senior Community Center grants to create a non-competitive grant program. This will allow more centers to receive grants to continue creating safe spaces for seniors to stay connected, improve their physical and emotional health, continue on the path of lifelong learning and share a meal with a neighbor. The budget allocated an additional $5 million to the Help at Home (OPTIONS) program which aids eligible adults to continue living in their homes. This funding will assist in removing more than 1,200 older adults from existing waitlists..
In addition to those investments for seniors, Governor Shapiro signed an executive order in May to direct the Department to develop a Master Plan for Older Adults. This plan is a 10-year, state-led and stakeholder-driven strategic plan designed to help transform the infrastructure and coordination of services for older Pennsylvanians.