Manhattan's bustling streets and crowded subway platforms can be a challenge for seniors and those with disabilities. Fortunately, the city offers a variety of options to facilitate trips to the hospital, grocery stores and cultural events.
The New York City Department for the Aging and MTA offer a public ride-sharing shuttle service called Access-A-Ride (AAR) for those unable to use the subway or public buses. This door-to-door service will transport patrons to a desired destination 24/7, whether it be for a medical appointment or personal errand.
Registration is required to obtain an AAR MetroCard — a process that can take up to a month — and costs the same as riding public transit (currently $2.75, but $1.35 with a senior citizen discount). Traveling with Access-A-Ride requires a reservation at least one day in advance, for which you set a desired pick-up or arrival time and location. However, as the MTA site warns, “Since AAR is a shared-ride service, you may be offered a pickup time that is up to an hour earlier or later than the time requested.”
The shuttle operates throughout New York City and into Westchester and Nassau counties. All buses are wheelchair accessible, and if you travel with a personal care attendant, that person can ride for free.
To learn more, visit web.mta.info/nyct/paratran/guide.htm.
For those who live in upper Manhattan, there's DOROT — a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a range of services to the elderly. Their escorting program offers assistance to medical appointments, errands, or just to enable a short getaway outside the home. Travel assistants accompany patrons door-to-door, providing a helping hand and emotional support when needed. The service is available Monday through Friday and is free of charge; however, a five-dollar donation is encouraged.
The door-to-door service only applies to those living on the Upper West Side from 59th Street to 125th Street and the East Side from 50th Street to 96th Street, but patrons can be accompanied anywhere in Manhattan. An appointment is also required, and reserving two weeks in advance is highly recommended.
DOROT also has a “Hand-in-Hand” program, connecting seniors with volunteers to explore the vast arts and cultural scene of New York. They can attend an event of their choice, or one organized by DOROT. In July, DOROT provided free transportation and companionship to cemeteries throughout the city to visit loved ones.
Visit their website, dorotusa.org, for more information on travel companions and other services.
The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens hosts a Community Arranged Resident Transportation program, also known as CART. This van service offers rides throughout Manhattan for senior citizens directly from their doorstep for a suggested donation of one dollar.
Five vans operate on various routes: Midtown West from Chambers Street to 45th Street, Midtown East from 10th Street to 59th Street, Lower East from Delancey Street to 37th Street, Upper West from 63rd to 110th Street, and Upper East from 63rd Street to 102nd Street. Service operates from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and reserving one week in advance is preferred.
The shuttles transport seniors to and from medical appointments, hospitals, scheduled activities at senior centers, visits to relatives, and other necessary engagements. CART will also deliver meals to seniors residing in mid-Manhattan, and a private car service is available for emergencies.
More information can be found at nyfsc.org.
4. MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING JITNEY
For those in need of health care services at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the hospital provides a free shuttle service for patients between its main Memorial Hospital on York Avenue to its other Manhattan locations. The jitney operates frequently from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., ensuring that their elderly patients get to their various appointments in a timely manner.
See mskcc.org for more information.
It's important to be safe as well as comfortable if you're living at home. Home repair and heating services are available at affordable fees, and design guides offer tips for cleanliness and accessibility.
1. NEW YORK FOUNDATION FOR SENIOR CITIZENS HOME REPAIR AND AUDIT PROGRAM
The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens operates a Home Repair and Audit Program for the elderly in the community who need home repair services that they are unable to perform themselves or cannot financially afford.
These free repair services include minor plumbing, gutter-cleaning, carpentry, caulking, home preparation for the winter and summer, as well as the installation of crime-prevention technology and emergency services, among others. An audit program (also a free service as a part of the home repair program) consists of trained volunteer specialists who inspect seniors' homes for potential hazards and recommend ways to improve the home for a safer living environment.
For further information, see nyfsc.org.
The government-funded program Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, offers heating for households needing to relieve energy costs. This service, which is provided through New York State Office for the Aging, is free, but your income level must meet the guidelines listed on their website (aging.ny.gov/NYSOFA/Services/Index.cfm).
There is also a repair and replacement program within HEAP for repairing or replacing a furnace, boiler or other heating device. An application process is required to receive these benefits and ensure the income requirements are met — you can apply with your local department of social services, or online.
3. SUNRISE SENIOR LIVING RESOURCES
Sunrise Senior Living offers suggestions and resources for designing a safe and comfortable place for a senior living at home on their website, sunriseseniorliving.org. There is a downloadable interior design guide for 2017 featuring input from their professional senior design team. There are also 10 online videos with tips and tricks to make any home comfortable and safe for the elderly — ways to redecorate a comfortable bedroom, and tips to declutter a space. You can visit their website for more interior design visuals as well as caregiver tips.
For seniors who live at home but are ill or too infirm to care for themselves, home caregivers or home health aides can be a helpful option. Businesses that provide these services include:
LeanOnWe is a Manhattan-based business that connects persons in need of home care with prospective caregivers. Ron Gold, a former Wall Street executive, founded the company after a serious biking accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. As Gold recovered, he realized the high cost of paying for home care out of pocket. In an interview with Forbes magazine Gold said, “In any other sector, any service, you have reviews; so much information. Yet when you try to find a caregiver for your parent, you know less to prepare for this decision than if you were shopping for a flat-screen TV.”
The first consultation with LeanOnWe is free. You're connected with a “Care Advisor” who assesses the client's needs and then recommends a list of caregivers in the LeanOnWe network.
LeanOnWe maintains that all of their caregivers go through a rigorous vetting process: “We speak personally to at least two to three families the caregiver has worked with recently.”
LeanOnWe states their caregivers have a minimum of two to three years of relevant caregiving experience, adding that they “verify all health care licenses and education credentials. We conduct an FBI fingerprint background check.”
575 Eighth Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018 Website: http://leanonwe.com/ Phone: 844-532-6669
2. RENEWAL CARE PARTNERS
Renewal Care Partners offers home health care, social, and companion care services that “focus on each person's unique needs.” On the health care end, the company has a team of dedicated registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified home health aides.
Renewal Care Partners is based in midtown Manhattan and its services are available to clients in all of New York City's boroughs.
555 Madison Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10022 Website: http://renewalcare.org/ Phone: 212-498-9600
3. ALVITA HOME CARE
Services provided by Alvita Home Care include in-home personal care, Alzheimer's and dementia care, hospice and palliative home care, and geriatric care management.
Alvita Home Care provides a “Home Care Needs Assessment Quiz” on their website to help prospective clients “objectively assess your situation by considering your ability to perform important activities on an independent basis.” Here is a link to the assessment quiz: https://alvitacare.com/homecare-needs-assessment/.
236 Fifth Avenue, Floor 9, New York, NY, 10001 Website: https://alvitacare.com/ Phone: 212-273-0490
Preparing meals in New York City requires a lot of time, travel and energy — from getting to a supermarket to being jostled in busy stores to shlepping home heavy bags. Meal and grocery home-delivery services can help alleviate the challenges of dining at home.
1. MEALS ON WHEELS AND THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT FOR THE AGING
New York City's Department for the Aging funds this service, which provides eligible seniors with a daily delivery of hot meals or twice-a-week delivery of frozen meals. In order to be eligible for meal delivery, seniors must be 60 years of age or older and “have difficulty preparing meals” for themselves. All eligibility is determined by local case management agencies.
Use the following web address to locate the contact information for the case management agency nearest to you: https://a125-egovt.nyc.gov/egovt/services/service_query.cfm Phone: 311
This company does all the shopping for you and often delivers purchases on the same day that you order them. In New York City, you can shop for items from Fairway Market, Costco Wholesale, The Food Emporium, Murray's Cheese, Whole Foods, or Petco. There is a $5.99 delivery charge, and for each store, there is usually a minimum amount you must purchase. When you go to Instacart's webpage, you'll immediately be prompted to create an account. After you add all desired items to the virtual cart, you then schedule a delivery time.
Website: www.instacart.com Phone: 888-246-7822
3. SILVER CUISINE BY BISTROMD
Silver Cuisine by bistroMD states that it was founded by a bariatric physician named Dr. Caroline Cederquist, who understands “the unique nutritional needs that seniors and adults over age 50 require ... and her expertise informs the creation of each of the meals we offer.”
Silver Cuisine by bistroMD's website offers many breakfast, lunch, and dinner microwavable meal options. There are also special diet meals available which include heart-healthy, gluten-free, low sodium, and diabetic diet meal options. Orders for meals can be placed either online or by telephone and are shipped to customers' residence via FedEx.
Cost: Breakfast meals range from $5.95 to $8.95; lunch and dinner meals from $8.95 to $12.95. Shipping costs $9.95, and expedited shipping is $29.95. Website: https://silver.bistromd.com/ Phone: 844-404-3663
There is never a shortage of things to do in New York City — including programs designed specifically for older New Yorkers. Whether you're a senior searching for a ceramics class, a new exercise routine or an English literature course, you don't have to look far to find something to engage your mind or meet new people with similar interests.
1. MAKING ART WORK
This art-based program for seniors is hosted in the Carter Burden/Leonard Covello Center in East Harlem. It's part of the Carter Burden Network, an agency of centers, programs and services that assists Manhattan's older residents. Making Art Work offers a variety of arts classes seven days a week; there are classes for sewing (which includes embroidery, clothing construction, quilting and doll-making), ceramics, mixed-media art and painting. Liz Curtin, a Making Art Work teaching artist, says she finds that the ceramics and sewing classes are most popular among seniors. The Carter Burden/Leonard Covello Center also hosts their own annual fashion shows, where seniors model the clothing and jewelry they've made in Making Art Work classes. “They love it,” Curtin says. “They're such hams; they really work that runway.”
Aside from learning new techniques and creating art, Curtin says that Making Art Work helps seniors by giving them a place to socialize. “They're making connections and friendships here, so it gets people out their homes and reduces isolation and depression.”
Making Art Work is free; to register, a senior with a valid form of identification can visit the center in East Harlem to fill out a form. Liz Curtin, Teaching Artist: 212-423-9665 Website: http://www.carterburdennetwork.org/2-making-art-work/
2. C.V. STARR ADULT DAY SERVICES
The C.V. Starr Adult Day Services, also part of the Carter Burden Network, is an adult day program geared towards Manhattan seniors ages 60 and older who are affected by Alzheimer's, dementia or physical frailty. The program, headed by director Kathleen Eannone, follows a structured schedule that keeps seniors engaged from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. Along with a series of activities that keep them mentally engaged (like political discussions, poetry writing and discussing the artistic process behind their arts and crafts), seniors are also provided breakfast and lunch.
“I have very strong feelings about preserving the dignity of the senior,” Eannone says. “Especially the senior who might not be as aware of what's going on.”
C.V. Starr Adult Day Services is open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; the fee is $80 a day, and Eannone says that the program is covered by certain Medicaid Managed Long Term Care programs for those who may not be able to afford the fee. To get involved with C.V. Starr, which is located on East 99th Street, seniors must apply and interview with Eannone.
Kathleen Eannone: 646-504-5900 ext. 607 Website: http://www.carterburdennetwork.org/2-carter-burden-metro-east-99th-street-cv-starr-adult-day-program
3. THE HIMAN BROWN SENIOR PROGRAM
Part of the 92nd Street Y, The Himan Brown Senior Program provides a wide variety of programming for seniors ages 60 and older in Manhattan. For a $500 annual fee, members have access to more than 65 classes each week that span a variety of areas. There are art history and art studio classes, which include drawing, painting and sculpture; ballroom and folk dance classes; discussion groups that cover current events; drama workshops; a myriad of fitness classes; bridge and chess instruction classes; and French and Yiddish language classes.
According to the 92Y website, the Himan Brown Senior Program, headed by director Jo Brown, is staffed with licensed social workers and counselors, as well as trained instructors. Orientation meetings for those who are interested are held every two weeks; to register for this orientation, head to the “membership” tab on the 92y.org/himan-brown website.
4. CENTER FOR LEARNING AND LIVING
The Center for Learning and Living is an organization that offers weekday daytime classes for retired and semi-retired people who have interest in furthering their education. Classes are offered year round, in seasonal “semesters,” and there are three classes a day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Students can take an unlimited number of classes each semester for one fee of $135. Courses range in topic, from English and literature to criminal justice. According to the Center's website, classes are taught by a combination of retired academics and experts who have volunteered their time and expertise to the Center. Classes are held at St. Catherine of Siena on East 68th Street; anyone interested can register online at clandl.org.
Elder fraud is the most common form of elder abuse, and it's the costliest as well. According to the National Council on Aging, elder financial exploitation costs older Americans $36.5 billion per year; because of their age, seniors are more vulnerable to fall victim to scams and are less likely to report them. Four preventative measures that older New Yorkers can take to combat financial abuse.
A free service for landlines that prevents telemarketers from calling. Setup is simple; head to nomorobo.com/signup and enter your landline carrier and email address, then follow the setup instructions sent to your email.
A service that monitors across financial accounts to detect suspicious activity for a monthly fee. There are three levels of membership that users can choose from depending on their needs. The most basic membership, which monitors only savings accounts, is $7.49 a month; the “gold” membership, which monitors savings, investments and multiple credit files while protecting from identity theft and financial fraud, is $22.99. Website is https://www.eversafe.com/ and phone is 888-575-3837.
3. TRUE LINK
A financial services firm that offers investment accounts and prepaid debit cards customized for seniors. True Link provides Visa cards with restrictions meant to prevent financial abuse. These cards use fraud-detection algorithms, restrict telemarketer purchases, block some charitable organizations and set limits on ATM usage. Ordering a reloadable True Link card takes a few minutes on their site (truelinkfinancial.com).
A senior bill-paying service that ensures that bills are paid on time and correctly while also monitoring for errors and fraud. SilverBills won't have access to the senior's bank account; payments will either be deducted from an existing bank account that the senior gives the service permission to use, or taken from an escrow account opened by SilverBills. To sign up and discuss a monthly fee, call 866-653-4427.