Archive for the tag 'elderly'

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

State Senator Diane Savino (Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons)

A pair of New York State politicians are trying to make it easier for emergency personal to rescue disabled residents should another disaster like Superstorm Sandy strike in again the future. SI Live is reporting that State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick are introducing legislation that would require counties to create and maintain a confidential list of disabled citizens so rescue workers could prioritize their rescue in the event of a wide scale emergency.

As we reported earlier in the month, a federal judge ruled that the city had no adequate plan for evacuating the elderly and disabled should another disaster like Sandy strike again. The legislation proposed by Savino and Cusick was in response to this ruling.

“Judge Furman’s ruling holds out what we and those in the disabled community have said, that the city and state need a registry and a plan for the evacuation, shelter and rescue of our disabled neighbors,” Savino said.

Cusick agreed with Savino in calling for action, noting the consequences of inadequate preparedness.

“Individuals with disabilities who may require evacuation assistance and shelter during a disaster will only get the assistance they require if there is some sort of registry,” Cusick said. “We saw first hand the chaos and confusion during Superstorm Sandy with regard to evacuation procedures.”

While Cusick’s bill has passed in the Assembly, it has not yet passed in the Senate. SI Live also noted that the legislation would also force operators of high-rise apartment buildings to update their own emergency plans and provide emergency escape plans for their disabled residents.

Source: Hu Totya via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Hu Totya via Wikimedia Commons

As seniors prepare for another winter, many in homes battered last year by Superstorm Sandy, fire safety becomes a huge concern. According to a press release, the FDNY Fire Safety Education Unit will be installing smoke, carbon monoxide and hard-of-hearing detectors, as well as performing in-home safety reviews, for elderly and disabled residents whose homes had to be repaired following the events of Sandy.

The program comes courtesy of a $590,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security and is earmarked for residents living within the realms of Community Boards 13, 15 and 18. The release described the reasons behind the program and how it might save lives:

With the cold weather season upon us, so many of us depend upon having heat in our homes to keep us warm, but with home-heating equipment such as portable space heaters and fireplaces, come certain risks. The possibility of fire increases by 33 percent during the winter months of December, January and February, with the FDNY reporting that fire remains the major causes of death in the home.

There were 106 fires attributed to Superstorm Sandy last year – 21 of which occurred during the powerful October 29, 2012 storm, and 85 fires in the months following, which were attributed to damage from the storm.

If you would like an installation in your home, you can call (718) 281-3872.

Thanks to Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz for providing the information on the program and the service. The assemblyman has encouraged constituents with any questions to contact his office too at (718) 743-4078.

Stay safe, everybody.

Source: dssrtbabe / Flickr

Source: dssrtbabe / Flickr

Area seniors looking to stay in shape but don’t want to pay the high costs associated with gym memberships can rejoice!

The City Parks Foundation welcomes all New Yorkers, 60 and over, to participate in CityParks Seniors Fitness for six weeks at Marine Park. All activities will take place twice a week now through November 1. Participants are encouraged to maintain regular attendance to maximize health benefits. All equipment and instruction is provided free of charge.

The fall 2013 season of free fitness programs will offer free tennis and yoga instruction. The schedule is below:

  • Tennis: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. at the Marine Park tennis courts, Avenue S and East 32nd Street
  • Yoga: Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. at the Marine Park Nature Center, Avenue U and East 32nd Street

CityParks Seniors Fitness has served over 5,000 participants since it began in 2006 and aims to keep neighborhood parks a great place for community activity.  The program encourages New Yorkers to maximize the health benefits of staying active at every age. Even in moderate amounts, exercise can help participants feel better, maintain or lose weight, reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and minimize the symptoms of arthritis.

The schedule is subject to change. For the most up-to-date schedule, visit For more information about City Parks Foundation’s free Seniors Fitness programs, call the Sports Department at (718) 760–6999. You can also follow City Parks Foundation on Facebook and Twitter at @CPFNYC.


Candidates in the council race.

The race to replace Michael Nelson as councilmember for the 48th District is about impossible to predict as the Powerball, but prognosticators have speculated that the issue of securing a “safety net” for the district’s poor and sick might be a major factor. An article in the Jewish Week is reporting that the safety net issue is a top priority for the Jewish community in the district.

Most of the analysis found in the Jewish Week’s report is nothing new, squaring in on the back and forth between Ari Kagan and David Storobin, the name-flap controversy between Kagan and Chaim Deutsch and the all around squabbling that has taken place between all of the candidates.

One interesting new talking point was brought forward by Josh Mehlman, the founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. Mehlman suggested that while the recent district split has empowered Russian voters over the traditionally Jewish dominated voting bloc, many Russians and Jews will be united by their community’s need for government assistance:

“The district split was an intentional misuse of power to attempt to divide our strength at the polls,” said Josh Mehlman, a founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. The neighborhood contains many upper middle class or wealthy homes but also a large concentration of Russians and senior citizens who require assistance. Thirty-nine percent of the Jewish households in the Coney Island/Brighton Beach/Sheepshead Bay area have incomes at the federally defined poor or near-poor levels, according to the Special Report on Poverty of UJA-Federation’s 2011 Jewish Community Study; the figure for the Flatbush/Midwood/Kensington area is 30 percent.

Yet public assistance is an issue that hasn’t really come up much in the debates, and the article itself doesn’t report the candidates’ views. Where do you think they stand, and where do you want them to stand?



New York State Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein is hoping voters will approve a law that extends the required retirement ages of  judges past 70 years old. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that Weinstein and other advocates believe that the current law is outdated and doesn’t account for advances made in health care.

The current law requires that appointed New York State judges must retire at 70 years old. They can apply for three two-year extensions that allow them to keep serving until 76 years old as long as they have no pressing mental or physical disabilities. Judges who are elected face no mandatory retirement age.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Barry Kamins expressed his opinion that the law ought to be changed.

“The current requirement that certain judges must retire at 70 and others at 76 is an outdated rule that was created at a time when the life expectancy of the population was much lower than it is today,” Kamins told the Daily Eagle. “We have experienced and enthusiastic judges who are eager to remain on the bench and who could contribute so much to the court system. They should not be forced to retire because of a rule that has no relevancy in the 21st century.”

The Daily Eagle cited statistics that do indeed show that people are living longer and healthier lives:

With advancements in medical technology and an awareness of  diet and exercise, people are living longer lives. A report issued by the World Health Organization estimates that the life expectancy for individuals in high-income countries, such as the United States, is 80 years of age.  United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired from the bench at the age of 90, mused to a Washington reporter that he “may have jumped the gun a little bit.”

This past January, Weinstein introduced an amendment called, “Increasing Age Until Which Certain State Judges Can Serve,” which would extend the required retirement age to 80-years-old for Court of Appeals judges. It would also allow state Supreme Court judges five two-year extensions past the age of 70.

Voters will have a chance in the November election to decide whether to extend the retirement age for state judges.

Source: changeschanging / Flickr

Source: changeschanging / Flickr

City Council candidate Ari Kagan wants to bring back the x29 bus service. The line, which ran from Stillwell Avenue and Surf Avenue to 57th Street and Madison Avenue in Midtown, was eliminated in 2010 in a series of MTA cuts.

As we’ve previously reported, the x29 service met the ax when the MTA was in the midst of a $40 million cutting spree. Kagan admonished the MTA in his remarks in a press release.

“The people of southern Brooklyn, many of whom commute over an hour to get to work in Manhattan, deserve better from the MTA,” said Kagan. “City Hall and the MTA, for years now, have made it regular practice to penalize those families who live and commit to the areas they can afford to live in. New York City is more than Manhattan and trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods close to Manhattan. We are taxpayers, and deserve services from the City too.”

Kagan also stressed that the lack of express bus service has impacted the disabled and elderly.

“Here in southern Brooklyn, our train stations are elevated. Not everyone is capable of walking up multiple flights of stairs to access the subway. These women and men relied on the X29 to get to work, or a doctor’s appointments, in Manhattan. They deserve better from the MTA,” Kagan said.

Source: JohnnyBarker / Flickr

Source: JohnnyBarker / Flickr

Sheepshead Bites would like to congratulate Jeanine Grimaldi for getting her essay, “In Grandmother’s Alzheimer’s, Another Lesson in Family,” published in the New York Times’ From Our Children special feature. Jeanine is an occasional contributor to Sheepshead Bites, penning several essays on Alzheimer’s disease including one on Alzheimer’s Awareness month and another on Brooklyn’s fight against Alzheimer’s. She also organizes an Alzheimer’s Walk to raise funds to fight the debilitating condition.

Jeanine’s new essay, which you can read by clicking here, focuses on the struggle she and her family have in dealing with her grandmother’s battle with disease. It is a touching and lovely piece that reflects on the strength of her family and the love for her grandmother, who is a Sheepshead Bay native. Here’s the first couple of paragraphs:

“I don’t live here. This is not my house!”

My grandmother clutched the insulated lunch bag with her name written in black marker and looked through the van window at the small brick house where she has lived for over 50 years in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

It was around 7 on a Friday evening, when my family got a call from the van dispatcher. The driver had picked up my grandmother at the senior center she attends each weekday, as usual, but when the van arrived at her house she refused to get off. The home care aide waiting for her couldn’t persuade her to come inside, either. My grandmother Mary, 83, was getting agitated, and so were the other elderly passengers.

My grandmother is one of more than five million Americans who have Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes these patients experience sun-downing, a period of increased confusion and restlessness toward the end of the day, and my grandmother was having one of these episodes. It is hard to know how to handle these situations, but it is best to have family around because patients can say upsetting things or even become physical.

Great work, Jeanine. Keep up the good fight!

Source: JohnnyBarker / Flickr

Source: JohnnyBarker / Flickr

The New York City Council is pulling out all the stops to halt the spread of social day care centers that rip off Medicaid. The New York Times is reporting that the Council is looking to implement regulation and enforcement in order to weed out the shady centers that lure in healthy seniors in order to reap a windfall in Medicaid benefits.

In April, we first reported on the proliferation of social day care centers, which exploded from just eight programs citywide to 192 in only two years. The facilities arose in the wake of a new law enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which wished to curb Medicaid costs by steering seniors needing expensive in-house or nursing care to the less-costly, community-friendly centers. The centers are supposed to treat patients with severe disabilities and medical problems but instead, many have been tapping healthy seniors to participate, luring them with cash and free groceries. The Times explains how the managed care plans and social centers profit by this practice:

Under the new system, managed care plans get roughly $3,800 a month for each eligible person they enroll in New York City, regardless of what services are provided. The plans contract with the social adult day care centers to provide services to their members. But advocates for the elderly and for people with disabilities have warned state officials that some plans were “cherry-picking” healthy seniors by using the new day care centers as marketing tools, while shunning the people who needed hours of costlier home care.

Joan Pastore, director of Amico, a city senior center in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, said members of the center told her that they were not only signed up by new centers with enticements like $100 in cash and $50 for bringing a friend, but “coached on how to lie to qualify for home care.”

Members of the Council expressed anger at the practices of the managed care plans and the social day care centers.

“It is just outrageous that these pop-up centers are threatening the well-being of our seniors while draining Medicaid resources from legitimate programs for older adults. Increased oversight and regulation of these programs is needed immediately,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the Times.

In response, the Council has introduced a bill that would impose minimum requirements on the centers, which as of right now, are unregulated. Centers would be limited to treating seniors with impairments, set minimum safety standards and must register with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The bill would also protect centers that play by the rules and offer robust service to patients with actual disabilities.

Centers that don’t register or ignore the new rules could be fined between $250 to $1,000 a day. Enforcing these new rules won’t be cheap. City officials estimate that it will cost $2 million to police the nearly 200 centers throughout the city.

State Senator Diane Savino is looking to create a statewide bill that is modeled after the Council version.

Source: Blue387 via wikimedia commons

Marty Golden is following through on his promise to bring back the old voting machines by leading the New York State Senate in approving legislation that would allow the machines to be used in upcoming elections, according to a press release.

The legislation, which was sponsored by Golden, allows New York City to use lever machines for all non-federal elections, including the upcoming mayoral primaries, run-offs and general election. Golden praised the passage of the bill as a victory for making voting simpler.

“The lever voting machines had been successfully used in New York for over 100 years. They have proven to be reliable and easy for voters to use. In addition,  using lever voting machines will expedite the canvass of votes cast in the primary election and reduce the number of paper ballots that would need to be hand-counted,” Golden said in the release.

State Senator Simcha Felder believes that the machines will help seniors.

“The new voting machines are confusing to people and very hard to read, especially for seniors,” Felder said.

There have been concerns that the new voting machines, which rely on paper ballots and digital readers, were causing more problems than solving them. Voters, especially seniors, complained about difficult to read and confusing paper ballot instructions, and the Board of Elections has proven unequal to the task of tallying the votes on the new machine in a timely manner.

The bill will now go to the Assembly for a vote.

Source: Jhawk/Flickr

Social day care centers, community facilities that cater to the elderly, are being accused of abusing Medicaid, according to a report in the New York Times.

Under a new law enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo, managed care, the type of service offered at the centers, became mandatory for people receiving home services. The hope was that New York, which has the largest Medicaid budget in the country at $54 billion, could steer the costs away from expensive long-term home care like nursing homes to less expensive and safer community friendly centers.

The centers, which have ballooned from eight programs to 192 in just two years, are supposed to treat patients with severe disabilities and medical problems. The Times described the scenes at centers meant to cater to the frail:

Scores of elderly Russian immigrants played bingo under the chandeliers of a former funeral parlor in Brooklyn on a recent Monday, with a free dinner and door-to-door transportation from anywhere in the city.

Nearby, older people speaking Chinese filled a supermarket-size storefront with vigorous games of table tennis, billiards and mah-jongg, and ordered free lunch from a takeout menu featuring minced pork, beef and salty fish.In Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, at the new R & G Social Adult Day Care Center, known locally among elderly immigrants for luring clients with cash and grocery vouchers, most people there for lunch did not stay to eat. Instead, many walked briskly toward the subway carrying bags stuffed with takeout containers, and two elderly men rode away on bicycles with the free food.

If something seems out of whack in this picture it’s because the financial rewards for the centers are huge. These new social day care centers are taking in seemingly healthy, active elderly people because, in New York City, Medicaid reimburses these centers per member to the tune of $3,800 each, per session, compared to the statewide average reimbursement of $93 per member.

Right now, there is little oversight or regulation. As a result, there has been an aggressive push by the centers to recruit elderly members no matter how healthy they might be. The Times described how the centers tempt elderly with financial incentives:

At Mr. [Warren] Chan’s Asian Senior Day Care center on 18th Avenue, around the corner from R & G, Liang Mei King, 77, was one of several clients who said they were offered financial inducements to join R & G.

“I went once to see,” she said through an interpreter, interrupting her mah-jongg game. “If you get someone else, they give you $50. And each week, there’s a certain amount of money. One day there’s $5, a $10 grocery coupon, or an unlimited MetroCard. If you don’t want the MetroCard, they offer $125 in cash.”

Mr. Chan said other centers were resorting to the same tactics, and elderly immigrants who did not know better accused him of pocketing benefits himself.

While the redesign of the state’s Medicaid system was enacted to curb costs, the loopholes have costs spinning out of control. Part of the problem is that Medicaid is not overseeing the centers, and instead leaves oversight to the managed care plans that pay out to the centers. That, however, is a shoddy system, since there’s little incentive for managed care plans to crack down on centers, since the managed care plan gets a cut of the payment.

Valerie Bogart, a lawyer for the New York Legal Assistance Group explained the problem to the Times:

“The whole thing is going to end up costing the state much more money. It’s really up to the managed care plans to be the watchdogs now, and it’s like the fox watching the chicken coop, because they have an incentive to make money from these centers, too,” Bogart said.

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