Aging in New York City

The Metropolitan Diary in the New York Times often reminds me of why I love New York City. This week it reminded me of why NYC is a good city for older people. It has two great stories of people being kind to seniors on the NY buses. No wonder my mom loved living in NYC when she was old. And she always took the bus.

In one story, an older woman forgets her husband as she gets on the bus. Read the story, if you want to know what happened.

Eating a Hot Dog Can Send You to the Hospital

How can the nation get people to take care of their own health? How do you keep a heart patient from eating a hot dog on the 4th of July? The Wall Street Journal ran an article on "Cutting Repeat Hospital Trips" which included the story of a woman who didn't care if eating a hot dog would put her back into the hospital. She ate the dog and baked beans -- both loaded with blood-pressure-raising sodium. The next day she was hospitalized.

The taxpayers and anyone with health insurance are paying for this sort of behavior over and over. But how do we as a nation avoid acting like Big Brother while holding the line on the costs incurred by people who won't take responsibility for their own health? We fine people who don't wear seat belts. Can we fine people for eating hot dogs?

The article (well worth reading) has excellent examples from the Berkshire Medical Center in Massachusetts of how return hospital visits can be minimized. It doesn't have any suggestions on the hot dog problem, however. If you want to read the article, here is the link:

I believe that all of our proposed plans in Congress are just too cumbersome. I fear that public health control will be like dealing with the IRS. My idea is to cover everyone with a $5,000 annual deductible disaster plan. You pay premiums via a low income tax. If you want more coverage, you buy it on the open market through private insurance companies. If you don't have an income, and if you are on some sort of government aid, then the coverage comes for free.

This would make people care more about the first $5,000 they pay for health care. People might ask more questions or take better care of themselves because they'd have a financial incentive. But if they have a catastrophic illness or accident, then they won't be bankrupted.

At the same time, we need to be looking for cost-cutting best practices nationwide and providing incentives to hospitals and doctors to copy them.

If you like my ideas, talk them up.

Another Hurdle to Health Care Reform: Too Few General Practice Doctors - Knowledge@Wharton

Will the new health-care reform make it too hard to find a family doctor, especially one who will take good care of seniors? This is a really important point. There is a shortage of doctors and longer waits to see them in Massachusetts, where everyone has to be covered or pay a fine. Knowledge @Wharton takes a hard look at this issue. Worth reading.
Another Hurdle to Health Care Reform: Too Few General Practice Doctors - Knowledge@Wharton

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Health-Care Questions

I listened to Obama last night, and he was so persuasive. Then I thought back to what I'd read about the details of the health-care overhaul in the Wall Street Journal, and I went back to having doubts.

My biggest problem is what the plan will do to small and growing businesses, burdening them with more taxes, penalties and mandates. It will also place a greater burden on the poor working class, forcing them to purchase insurance they can't afford. That is what has happened to my daughter, who is a part-time nursery school teacher in Massachusetts. The state will not approve her application for state-paid insurance because she currently has personal insurance, but she can't afford her premiums. If she drops her insurance, she has to pay a fine to the state. Her employer doesn't cover her. What a mess! Not only that, her insurance in Massachusetts is twice what it was in Connecticut because the insurers in MA must take everyone. Our federal insurance will be a mess like this.

Meanwhile, how can new and small businesses grow or simply stay in business with the sudden new burdens of paying for expensive plans or paying fines? What will part-time workers do? Pay a fine and stay uncovered? How does that help anyone? What will the plan do to people who are aging, laid-off, retired and not covered by Medicare? Can they afford insurance under the new plan?

I went looking for answers in The Wall Street Journal. Good reading. But it didn't make me feel any better.

Growth of Industry to Support Aging in Place

Read all about it! There is an entire industry that has sprung up to help people age in place. And the recession is having an impact on the trend. The New York Times business section has a great article on this topic.

Older folks don't want to move to assisted living. And anyway, assisted living can be really expensive.

But what does it take to age in place successfully, affordably and safely? This article explores the topic. Well worth reading....

Here is a synopsis:

Making Home a Safer Place, Affordably
Published: July 18, 2009
If older people choose to remain in houses where they are comfortable, there are many ways to shore up their homes’ safety

Help the MacLeod family turn the page - Susan Campbell | Fear, itself

This is the story of a vet helping a vet. I wrote up the story for Henry Racki so that he could help this veteran. He has sent it out to the press, and it has been picked up by a blog and sent around. Henry and his Rockfall company make modular additions for homes that enable people to age in place. It's great for disabled folks, too.

Check out the blog from the Courant.

Help the MacLeod family turn the page - Susan Campbell | Fear, itself

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More Villages Help People Stay in Their Homes

A member of our Aging in Place in Darien Board of Advisers just sent me yet another article on the spread of aging-in-place organizations. Wow. This trend is really picking up momentum. The article from is about "villages" (based on the Beacon Hill Village model) springing up in more Boston suburbs like Newton, Sudbury and Wellesley. The recession is making the alternative of staying in your community and home even more practical, as moving to assisted living is an expensive proposition.

This may be one of the best articles I've read so far on the topic. It offers in a sidebar of resources to tap, complete with Web sites. I've put a link below and urge you to read it.

I can't wait for Aging in Place in Darien to have its own Web site and to become an independent nonprofit. We are still a pilot program, under the wing of the Community Fund of Darien. I'm getting really impatient, but I know I have to bide my time and let the process of planning for our future work out in an orderly fashion. I just hope the naysayers who want to keep the organization small and part of some other nonprofit don't win the day. I hope we can find seniors in Darien who will want to become board members and who will want to champion a village or other independent, nonprofit AIP organization in Darien. I hope we can find the impassioned ones.

To read the Boston suburb article, click here:

Successful Aging and Dying

I've just read a wonderful, moving article about successful aging and dying in the New York Times. It's about a convent of sisters (nuns) in Rochester who've figured out what is important as one becomes ill and frail. They have an expert in aging who helps them not over medicate. The article is well worth reading. Jane Gross wrote the story. She's done a lot of great stories on aging, including the one about Beacon Hill Village several years ago.


Sisters Face Death With Dignity and Reverence
Published: July 9, 2009
For end-of-life care, a group of convent sisters rely on social networks rather than aggressive medical intervention.

Dexter-Miller Community, Inc. - Ann Arbor, Michigan

In an effort to help people all over the country know about the groups that have sprung up to help people successfully stay in their homes as they age, I'm collecting information and posting descriptions of organizations dedicated to that cause.

Here is the first one:

The Dexter-Miller Community, Inc. located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a non-profit neighborhood services cooperative. Members are willing to exchange services with each other to simplify and enhance their quality of life. Members agree that every service exchanged in the community has equal value based solely on the time spent providing it and that everyone has something to offer. Membership will be limited to 50-100 households in Northwest Ann Arbor. When membership approaches 100 households we intend to split into two geographically more compact groups in order to keep management and contacts simple and local. There is a $15.00 initiation fee plus dues of $10.00 per year.

New members receive scrip worth 16 DEXMILS (DM). One DM is worth 15 minutes of service from another member or the loan of equipment for one hour. Each year upon renewal, members may request 8 more DM, if needed. Otherwise, DM are earned by providing services or equipment to other members. A Membership Directory lists services and equipment offered by each household. Those seeking services or equipment call or email a provider directly and arrange the exchange Professional Service contractors recommended by coop members are listed on our website with satisfaction ratings from community members. Combining work of professional contractors with other community members sometimes results in substantial discounts. More information is available at

Allan Feldt

Essentials of Successful Aging

The head of the Watergate Initiative has written a one-page guide to successful aging. I have permission to post it here. I found it terrific. WATERGATE INITIATIVE/NETWORK

Making Your Good Life Even Better


Whether you live in a city, a suburb, or a rural area – you will benefit by having
these qualities in your life, if you want to stay in your home, and not move to an
institutional environment.

1. People: People who you are committed to help when they need it – and --
people whose help you will accept when you need it. Each of us needs to be part
of a defined group in our geographic location -- a Network builds bonds on a daily
basis, weaving an intimate thread of community.

2. Information. The world is changing quickly – we need to be informed so we
can take care of ourselves and respond to the changes. We need information on
medical services and reverse mortgages, and recommendations on everything from
plumbers to contractors. We need to know what’s happening in our neighborhoods
and our local government. We need different kinds of help -- from a drive to the
doctor to spreading the word on our yard sale. We need information on support
groups from caregivers to cancer survivors.

3. A health care team standing by to help you when you need it – for services
beyond what your own doctor provides. That team includes a Home Care
Company, a Geriatric Care Manager, and a Hospice with its Palliative Care
doctors. It certainly includes your local Hospital, with which you can work to
create new programs specific to your Network members.

Take care,

Patricia Moore

(Mrs. Arthur Cotton Moore)

Founder: The Watergate Initiative + TWI/Network

Updates on Senior Transportation - ITN

I just got the latest ITN America newsletter via email. I'm going to paste it below.

What strikes me is that any great initiative, such as improving transportation for seniors, comes from one or two driven individuals with great passion. Successful social entrepreneurship comes from people with a mission, and that mission usually comes from a personal experience or need.

Read on....

ITNAmerica E-newsletter
The Road Ahead E-newsletter ITNAmerica
Volume 5. Summer 2009

In this Issue

ITNOrlando: We're Off to the Races!

Sheldon Suroff: ITN Closes the Circle

Volunteering Gives New Perspective on Aging

Liberty Mutual Debuts "Driver Seat Game"

The Older Driver Evaluation Process

Liberty Mutual
The Liberty Mutual and ITNAmerica Partnership. ITNAmerica is excited to announce our partnership with Liberty Mutual, one of the nation's leading auto, home and life insurers. As the National Insurance Partner to ITNAmerica and our affiliate communities, Liberty Mutual has embraced ITN's mission to support safe, senior mobility and developed resources for seniors and their families to make good, safe transportation decisions found at

Donate to ITNAmerica

ITNOrlando: We're Off to the Races!

By Fran Carlin-Rogers, Board Member, ITNOrlando

Start Your Engines

Orlando began preparations to expand senior transportation options back in the mid 90s, long before we had ever heard of the Independent Transportation Network®. A visionary leader at the Central Florida Area Agency on Aging recognized that senior transportation was a key component of each strategic plan identifying critical needs of elders. Several programs were started which set a tone of innovation around this topic. Local and statewide transportation summits focusing on the triumvirate of safe roads, safe drivers and transportation alternatives, and an informative publication, "What Do You Do When Your Car Won't Get You There," helped prepare our community to start travelling together.

Read more....

Sheldon Suroff

Sheldon Suroff: ITN Closes the Circle

For Sheldon Suroff, ITNAmerica's newest affiliate ITNStCharles closes a circle that started in 1994 when his son was killed by a 92 year old wrong-way driver suffering from dementia. After Jason's tragic death at 21 years old, Sheldon and his wife Karen turned their grief into activism, establishing a nonprofit organization, Concerned Americans for Responsible Driving (CARD), and creating the Impaired Driver Law.

Read more....

Bill Clark

Volunteering Gives New Perspective on Aging

By Bill Clark, Volunteer Driver,

Getting on in years is not easy, especially when it comes to getting from one place to another. When no family member is available to help, driving yourself to the appointment appears to be the only option. This decision can cause mixed feelings. Eyesight is not what it used to be and reaction time is slower. Guilt about driving under these conditions may arise, but what are the other choices? Aging requires visiting doctors more often, and with blood draws, x-rays, and other transportation needs, it is not unusual to have more than one appointment in a week.

Read more....

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual Debuts "Driver Seat Game"

Liberty Mutual, ITNAmerica's national insurance partner, launched its online Driver Seat Game, a video game that allows players of all ages to experience first-hand the physical and cognitive limitations that older drivers may experience while operating a motor vehicle. The goal of the game is to make players sensitive to the physical obstacles faced by their parents at various stages of aging and inspire conversations between adult children and their senior parents.

Read more....

The Older Driver Evaluation Process

The Older Driver Evaluation Process

Healthcare practitioners play an important role in addressing driving safety with their patients. Changes that often come with age—vision and hearing loss, slower reaction times, chronic illness and medication—can affect driving ability. The problem is that patients might not know it.

Read more....

The Road Ahead is the e-newsletter of ITNAmerica, and is generously supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies.
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