Nearly one in five New Yorkers are 65 years old or older. That’s about 18%.

“It’s 3.5 million New Yorkers, which is more than the population of 21 other states in this country,” said AARP New York Associate Director Robyn Haberman.

It's also the largest share of the state’s population than ever before.

“The under 65 population is shrinking, so I think it is just nature taking its course,” Haberman said. “We’ve got the [Baby Boomers] who are coming into their own now.”

Keeping Pace with an Aging New York State, a report compiled over a 10-year period between 2011 and 2021 by a New York City-based think tank called Center for an Urban Future, shows the state’s older population is even outpacing overall population growth in every county and most of its largest cities.

“We have to make sure that we are prepared,” Haberman said.

Perhaps even more alarming is that 37% of these people are living below the poverty line, with Syracuse seeing the most significant increase, about 110%.

“It’s critically important to make sure the needs of people aged 65 and older are met through policy, the community,” Haberman said.

It’s why AARP, which sponsored the study, is hosting number of roundtables across the state this week in communities that have seen some of the largest growth of seniors.

“Meant to bring together policymakers, community leaders and other stakeholders who have an interest in make sure we’re prepared,” Haberman said.

This is all in the name of protecting some of our most vulnerable.

“They deserve to age with dignity and grace,” she said. “And we need to make sure we do that for them.”