HOMES AWAY FROM HOME

Where to live next: 12 senior living residences in Manhattan and out of the city


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    (Photo courtesy of Crane's Mill.)


MANHATTAN

Isabella House & Isabella Nursing
515 Audubon Ave., near West 191st Street; 212-342-9200; isabella.org

Facilities: 77 independent-living apartments, from studios to one-bedrooms; 705 nursing beds
Fees: $2,400 to $2,800 per month
Waiting list: Three months for a one-bedroom; 6 months for a studio
Type: Independent Living with continuum of care

Isabella House was originally a home built in the 1880s that accommodated 200 women. It was razed and rebuilt as two large tan brick buildings which went up in the 1960s and '70s. In Washington Heights, a little far from the center of Manhattan, Isabella offers “really good value,” says Betty Lehman, Director of Marketing and Communications. Even well-off residents choose Isabella for the value, says Lehman, preferring to spend their money on cabs to Lincoln Center, excursions and occasional dinners out on the town.

Isabella House was rebuilt as senior housing, but changing demographics and times called for adding skilled nursing facilities, as well as a special focus on memory care. The top six floors in the 19-story primary building remain reserved for senior independent living. Apartments, many with terraces, have stunning views of the Hudson River and beyond.

There is a state-of-the-art rehab room, and a large auditorium made available for local community meetings and graduations which encourages community involvement, as well as activities such as films, dances and parties for the residents. A large outdoor landscaped garden presents an opportunity for walking and catching rays. Membership in the Isabella Institute for Older Adults features “workshops, seminars, health screenings and social events to stimulate the hearts, minds and bodies of its participants.”

Amsterdam Nursing Home
1060 Amsterdam Ave.; 212-316-7700; amsterdamcares.org

Facilities: 409 beds
Waiting list: None
Type: Skilled Nursing Home & Rehab

One of the oldest nursing homes in the city, founded 145 years ago as a home for “old men and aged couples,” Amsterdam was once located on Hudson Street, and moved to the Upper West Side in 1872, even before St. John the Divine Cathedral was erected.

Sitting just across the street from the iconic Cathedral, the home is protected for privacy with shrubbery and plants and trees and offers a continuum of life in the Morningside neighborhood. On nice days, residents sit outdoors with an attendant or family to enjoy the fresh air.

There are lovely common rooms, one with a piano, and plush armchairs for concerts and other events. One room features a captivating live bird display and fish tank. A connecting landmark building (which at one time was built as a water pump station) is where their adult day care program is held.

While Amsterdam serves the local community and NYC, hospitals often recommend patients for rehab, including those coming from abroad for surgical procedures. “We have good outcomes,” says Judith Fenster, Senior Vice President and Administrator. Amsterdam has consistently received five-star ratings from Medicare/Medicaid.

One special feature, Fenster says, is a Geri-Gym, a complement to prescribed physical therapy to help maintain residents' abilities. “You don't want people to lose any level of function; if they're walking even with assistance, you want them to continue and retain their abilities and their independence.”

Lott Assisted Living Residence
1261 Fifth Ave.; 212-534-6464 ext. 5149; lottchha.org

Facilities: 127 studio apartments
Fees: $4,500 per month
Waiting list: Anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months
Type: Assisted Living

Lott Residence was built for low-income seniors in 2000, located at the northern end of museum mile and across the street from Central Park. The not-for-profit residence was built to offer seniors quality care in the East Harlem area. It is one of only two assisted-living facilities in New York City that accept Medicaid — 90 percent Medicaid, 10 percent private pay.

As a Medicaid recipient, Lott is required to adhere to many rules which precludes residents from having pets, overnight guests, or wheelchairs (with some exceptions), but the upside is that the staff are vigilant, and residents have “low fall rates.”

While they aim to target seniors in the area, residents hail from the Bronx, Staten Island, Florida, everywhere, says CEO Nicole Atanasio.

Lott residents have the opportunity to engage in a full calendar of activities including exercise, lectures and trips and music programs. Resident jazz musician Ruben Wilson performs for the Lott community with his trio once a month.

A charming garden is at the center of the building where many events take place. The resident dining room on the 14th floor is a daily dose of joy, with a spectacular view of the Harlem Meer in Central Park.

The New Jewish Home
120 West 106th St.; 212-870-4715; jewishhome.org

Facilities: 514 beds; they also run a Westchester campus (in Mamaroneck) and senior-housing residences in The Bronx, including independent living and assisted living
Fees: A mix of private-pay, Medicare/Medicaid
Type: Skilled Nursing Home & Rehab

The news for The New Jewish Home is the construction of a 20-story building at 97th Street and Columbus Avenue, next to the Park West Village apartment buildings, which will feature 32 green houses. What is a green house? “Think two large Upper West Side apartments side by side,” says TNJH CEO Audrey Weiner, “and, think commune meets fabulous college dormitory.” Construction of the building is projected to begin in 2019 and completed in 2022.

Each green house will accommodate 12 residents, with their own room with private or shared bathroom. Rooms will open onto a central living area, with an open kitchen where staff can accommodate residents' food choices and activities.

Although a nurse is available 24 hours a day and the clinical-care team is nearby, the sense is that one is receiving care in a family-type setting. These progressive care principles are known as “resident-centered care” guided communities. Staff are consistent to one group, and develop warm relationships with residents.

A not-for-profit, The New Jewish Home has been running green houses at their Westchester campus successfully for several years on a smaller scale.

To keep pace with the development of the new building at their current location on 106th Street, the Home has been adapting the green house principles, making changes where they can within the footprint (a traditional hospital floor plan). They are preparing to be ready when staff and residents are transferred to the new location.

The present building has impressive features, including a spacious outdoor garden and a library, and ab auditorium where many social events for the residents take place, including writing workshops, pet therapy and art classes. Residents also regularly attend concerts, have movie nights, and go to the theater.

Recently LGBT residents were taken to the NYC Pride March. Seniors in their wheelchairs and dozens of staff participated with two colorfully decorated vans. Dominga Marquez, the resident council president, who is not gay-identified, says she joined the outing to show her support for her fellow residents who are LGBT: “It's important to know that people are free to express who they are.”

Carnegie East House
1844 Second Ave.; 212-410-0033; carnegieeast.org

Facilities: 98 apartments, studios to two-bedrooms
Fees: $5,650 to $7,300 per month
Waiting list: Six months for units with East River views; two to three years for one of 21 units set aside for qualifying low-income applicants
Type: Assisted Living

As an independent, not-for-profit, says Marketing Director Margaret Foley, Carnegie East “is not under pressure to increase rates by 10 percent each year.” That means they have a small budget when it comes to advertising and marketing, but there is added focus on the residents. “Every resident knows me, they know my family, they know where my parents live,” says Foley. “I think people really feel cared for.”

Resident Phyllis O. Silverman, 87, a retired school teacher, says that “I love my little apartment. Every morning I look out my window, and see people walking their dogs, and the traffic, I love it and I feel like I'm part of the city.

Among the activities, highly noteworthy are operas performed live by The New York City Opera Forum once a month; as many as 15 singers perform. There are movies every night, lectures, a Shakespeare class, a jewelry-making class, Tai Chi, chair yoga and stretching exercises. Residents can participate in a theater workshop, and put on shows several times a year in an activities room they call “Carnegie Hall.”

Carnegie East also offers affordable housing, something no other senior living community does, Foley says that if a residents spend down their money, they can be placed on a waiting list for affordable housing. When a resident meets State requirements, Carnegie East can do a conversion on the spot.

“A rent can go from $6,700 to $2,700 a month with the same services in place,” says Foley. “Three meals a day, housekeeping, laundry, everything.”

Atria West 86th Street
333 West 86th St., near Riverside Drive; 212-712-0200; atriaseniorliving.com

Facilities: 183 apartments, from studios to a two-bedroom penthouse
Fees: Starting at $7,575 per month
Waiting list: None
Type: Assisted Living (Enriched Housing)

Within the rehabbed pre-war Upper West Side building, the aroma of home-baked cookies wafts into the busy foyer of Atria West 86 Street. Soft saxophone tones soothe on the background sound track. Food is a celebratory affair at Atria, with three options for residents: a cafe, an elegant dining hall, and a gourmet bistro restaurant with an open kitchen.

There is a communal terrace on the roof, and many rooms offer stunning views of the Hudson River. Tenants live as independently as they wish, and while they get many services, like housekeeping and meals and an option of hundreds of activities a month, they choose different levels of aid and assistance. There's a wellness center and a 24-hour nurse on site; doctors visit weekly.

Resident Mary Caplan, 74, a psychotherapist who still sees patients in her downtown office, moved into the community from Brooklyn a year ago with her husband. They decided to be pro-active about needing assistance, “before anyone else suggested it to us.”

Caplan says she used to get a chuckle at the vans full of seniors that would pull up in front of Broadway theaters, but now she herself enjoys that same service. It seems like every minute is accounted for, from a Sock Hop Dance to morning walks in Riverside Park to art history lectures, to museum outings to strength and balance classes. During the school year Juilliard musicians come in to perform. Caplan is looking forward to a hugely popular writing workshop which is overseen by a Columbia University journalism grad student.

“I don't know whether they have a special interviewing technique or whether they train the staff. This staff is both kind and very professional,” says Caplan, “I used to be nurse at one point, and now a therapist, and I watched the interaction, and people try to be kind, but really there is an extra layer.”

Tennis champ Billie Jean King is the Active Aging Ambassador for the Atria chain. The West 86th Street community is the chain's flagship location, among 190 residences located all over the U.S. King comes in from time to time to talk about healthy aging.

The 80th Street Residence
430 East 80th St.; 212-717-8888; 80thstreetresidence.com

Facilities: 65 rooms
Fees: $16,000 to $19,000 per month
Waiting list: None to three months
Type: Enhanced Assisted Living

Privately owned, The 80th Street Residence is the only assisted living residence in NYC exclusively for individuals with varying degrees of cognitive impairment (Alzheimer's and dementia). With the highest level of licensure an assisted living community can obtain by the NYS Department of Health, their designation is known as Enhanced Assisted Living, which allows them to provide aging-in-place. “As people's physical capabilities should become greater, if they need more assistance we allow them to stay here and increase the assistance they're being provided,” says Assistant Executive Director Lindsey Harbison,

Another licensure 80th Street has is a Special Needs Assisted Living resident certification, which allows them to do what they do best, which is the dementia-specific care.

The interior design is a like an urban bed and breakfast, with a New England charm. Designed using the green house model, 70 residents are distributed, 8 to 10 per floor, and grouped together based on their abilities and their needs, as well as other factors, including their personalities and interests. “Not only are we interested in providing support and care but also creating an environment that allows patients to engage and connect with each other,” says Harbison.

Music is a major part of the programming at 80th Street. “We realized that music is key to the soul, little by little we started bringing in different vendors,” says Executive Director, Clare Shanley, among them concerts by Juilliard students, and a group called Rhythm Break Cares, who dance with the residents. Wimbledon is “a big deal,” and programming is scheduled for the residents around the tennis event.

The fee for residents is all-inclusive; one monthly rate includes beauty parlor services, toiletries, outings, TV and furniture, and transportation to doctor visits. The one thing they don't pay for is dry cleaning, says Shanley, “because that can get crazy.”

ArchCare at Mary Manning Walsh Home
1339 York Ave.; 212-628-2800; archcare.org

Facilities: 362 nursing beds
Fees: Mix of Medicare/Medicaid private and commercial insurance
Waiting list: Three to six months for long term care
Type: Skilled Nursing Home & Rehab

Mary Manning Walsh is a part of ArchCare, the continuing-care community of the Archdiocese of New York, and sponsored by the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. They are a faith-based society but they welcome people of every background, and consistently receive a five-star rating from Medicare/Medicaid. Most rooms are private. A living room on the first floor features a grand piano, where families congregate and where concerts are often performed. There is also a chapel on the first floor, where daily mass is held, and which hosts regular services for people of other faiths.

The Home recently upgraded their rehabilitation gym, and is in the process of renovating patient floors, so there is a feeling of lightness and brightness.

Meals are delivered to residents' rooms but residents have the option to dine in a common dining room, or even in a restaurant-style lounge on the seventh floor, where there is a patio facing York Avenue. “It is nicely furnished, with a welcome breeze during the summer, where BBQs are held and families take full advantage of,” says Wanda Taylor, Director of Admissions. Her colleague Michael Monahan, Director of MMW adds, “Oftentimes after bowling or a card game or a concert, residents and families will enjoy some wine at their Emerald lounge, or a coffee at their café,” both on the concourse level.

The Home offers an excellent recreational program including music therapy and concerts every weekend from classical to jazz. There is also a bridge club, beading and art classes. Some of the residents' jewelry goes on sale in their gift shop.

Brookdale Battery Park
455 North End Ave., near Chambers Street; 212-791-2500; brookdale.com

Facilities: 217 apartments, from studios to two-bedrooms
Fees: $6,780 to $10,600 per month
Waiting List: High occupancy, first come first serve
Type: Independent Living

“Brookdale is like a cruise ship that isn't moving with lots of services in place,” says Gail Hochfeld, a Brookdale sales counselor. It has an impressive lobby featuring a huge arrangement of fresh flowers and beautiful common rooms. Large oil paintings hang on the walls (many of them painted by a current resident).

Built in 2000 with seniors very much in mind, hallways are wide with built-in ledges for extra support, and apartments feature low counter tops.

Brookdale Senior Living is the largest owner and operator of senior living communities throughout the U.S., running 1,100 of them.

Residents are given a pendant which works like a GPS so if they feel the need for assistance they will be easily identified and located. There are motion detectors in residents' room so if they sleep in later than usual, staff will check on them.

On the premises, there is a fitness and wellness center and a walk-in clinic with a doctor and a nurse and physical therapist. There are also two home aide agencies on the premises 24-7 that offer cluster care — “snippets of care,” says Hochfeld, “rather than the four-hour minimum most home care agencies charge.”

Brookdale is located at Battery Park, with the opportunity to walk and enjoy the river. There's also a small garden sanctuary within the complex.

Among the hundreds of activities organized every month, from lectures to musical events, “food-shopping trips are a big deal here,” says Hochfeld. “Many residents like to go to a Shop Rite in Jersey City ... They're a savvy group, they know that the Shop Rite has bigger aisles, is less congested than the Whole Foods, or the supermarkets in the city, it's a little cheaper, and they recognize the brands.”

Brookdale is one of the few senior living communities with a heated swimming pool (with a chair-lift and lifeguard).

OUT OF MANHATTAN

RiverWalk by River Spring Health
5961 Palisade Ave., Riverdale, N.Y.; 718-581-1295; riverspringhealth.org

Facilities: 130 independent-living apartments from studios to one-bedroom, 7 large one- and two-bedroom suites; 843 nursing beds
Fees: $3,700 to $6,500 per month; suites $8,000 to $9,400
Waiting list: None to three months
Type: Independent Living with continuum of care

RiverWalk features eight floors of independent living apartments, located within the 32-acre campus of the well-known Hebrew Home at Riverdale, surrounded by sweeping lawns and views of the Hudson. This year the Home celebrates their 100th year of serving seniors. The Home is well known for its collection of art displayed around the campus. “It's like walking through a museum,” says Regina Wallace, Director of RiverWalk.

In addition to the typical independent living features (two meals in their dining room, breakfast and dinner), a transportation service chauffeurs residents around Riverdale and environs to pharmacies and for shopping excursions, from Bloomingdales to Stew Leonard.

Every day is filled with activities including talks on all kinds of subjects. “We call it RiverWalk University because we have fabulous people come in to present the lectures,” Wallace says. The schedule typically features about nine cultural trips a month, often to museums.

The residence has a movie theater, a beauty parlor, a fitness center, a sports lounge, with pool table, and a beauty salon and barber shop. In another pavilion they have a warm-water aquatic therapy pool.

Having the various levels of need on the same campus has been very helpful for couples where one couple might be aging more quickly than their spouse, says Wallace. So if one is in the skilled nursing location, the one in Independent Living can visit and dine with their partner as often as they like,

Arden Courts
800 Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne, N.J.; 973-942-5600; arden-courts.com/Wayne

Facilities: 56 studios
Fees: $8,300 (single occupancy); $7,375 (double occupancy) per month
Waiting list: None to three months
Type: Assisted Living (Memory Care)

Arden Courts is 100 percent devoted to Alzheimer's and dementia care, and its small size (56 beds) ensures personalized attention. Arden is a division of HDR Manor Care, one of the largest health care providers in the country, running 56 communities. Arden Courts conducted five years of research into the science of caring for Alzheimer patients to develop best practices in their homes, such as the most comfortable atmosphere possible, explains Marketing Director Laura Garrett.

The design and layout of the building features four color-coded wings to aid residents. Residents are grouped in four “houses” — 14 to a wing — to create a family-like feeling. The color green is a predominant design feature, says Garrett: “Green is one of the last colors that people with dementia recognize.”

Residents are free to come and go as they please in the facility's back yard, where they have a couple of acres of landscaped area to explore, with gazebos and raised flower beds.

Arden Courts specializes in “behavioral dementia cases” and typically those behaviors go away once the resident is at Arden, says Garrett. “We meet them at their level, not just activities and care level but also emotional needs. We're not the source of their frustrations, we're the calming force that alleviates them. That all comes down to staff training.”

In the state of New Jersey there's a special recognition for private pay-assisted living known as Advanced Standing, which Arden Courts has received in the last two years.

Crane's Mill
459 Passaic Ave., West Caldwell, NJ; 973-276-6700; cranesmill.org

Facilities: 281 independent-living apartments; 48 assisted-living studios; 66 nursing beds
Fees: Starting $140,000 upfront and $3,000 per month
Waiting list: None to 6 months
Type: Independent Living with continuum of care

Crane's Mill is a continuing care retirement community which provides independent living with higher levels of care available should a resident need it. Additional levels of care include assisted living, skilled nursing and memory support. Accommodations include a range of apartments from studios to two-bedroom, to cottages that feature two-bed/two baths with den, private outdoor space and attached garages.

Independent living is luxurious at Crane's Mill, which has been home to Hall of Fame baseball players, prominent politicians and sports writers. The community sits on a sprawling 48 acres of protected land and is certified as a wildlife habitat. There is beautiful pond in the back, and among the activities for residents are weekly trail walks and bird watching. The Audubon society conducts some of their guided tours.

Live musical entertainment takes place in their auditorium; an education program brings professors from local universities to lecture on a variety of subjects. Once a month there are outings to a Broadway show or museums, and there are more than 200 activities every month on the calendar. Says Marketing Communications Manager Tom Ragusa: “A resident can do as much or as little as they choose.”

A formal dining room is open every evening, and serves up to five courses. One can bring one's own wine or liquor to dinner; a cafe is open for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Says Ragusa: “If one doesn't want to be served a five-course meal, one can get the same food, a la carte.”


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