Aging in Place in 2009

When I look back at 2009, it's easy to think about how hard the year has been. The recession has had a decidedly negative impact on so many. Yet, I feel really satisfied with one aspect of the past year -- the progress we've made with Aging in Place in Darien.

1. We introduced half-price taxi vouchers for seniors and the disabled. Now seniors can purchase the vouchers at Darien Town Hall and use them for rides on Everyready Taxi. The ride is then only half price.

2. Gallivant (the van for seniors and disabled) board members on our transportation committee helped us with research into area solutions for senior transportation, and in the process, became more energized themselves.
They are doing a new strategic plan, will hire a dispatcher and may purchase another vehicle.

3. AIP conducted a survey among seniors and learned key information that will guide us in our strategic planning. We had an amazing response rate.

4. We held a luncheon with a great speaker on arthritis. Over 100 people attended. Clearly, our seniors want to learn as much as they can about healthy aging.

5. AIP in Darien now has 170 members.

6. We've learned a lot about pros and cons of starting a nonprofit and about the other aging in place organizations in our area and across the nation. And we've continued to learn about agencies and for-profits in our area that help seniors.

7. We have a terrific working relationship with the new head of the Darien Senior Center, Beth Paris.

8. We are forming great plans for 2010 -- all strategically based. Keep checking back for more news.

We are looking forward to a productive new year. I hope you are, too.

Aging in Place in Darien Survey Results

In October Aging in Place in Darien conducted a survey among all the seniors (55+) in Darien (about 2,000). A total of 293 Darien residents completed the survey and provided valuable information to our Strategic Planning Committee. We learned that seniors in our town are just like ones nationwide: 90% want to live in their own home as long as possible. They also believe that they'll seek help in achieving that goal.
•    85% said that they have already called or would call the Aging In Place coordinator.

More information in future blogs.

To learn more about Aging in Place in Darien, call Alyssa Israel at 203-202-2912. Our mission is to help Darien seniors to live independently, comfortably and with dignity in their own homes as long as possible.

Happy holidays. Merry Christmas.

What Happens As We Age

The New York Times had an interesting Op-Ed piece on what happens as we age. It's all statistics - not prose -- and covers health, daily living and attitudes. Clearly arthritis, hypertension and difficulty driving at night are among the top problems. But the attitudes toward love and sex were interesting, too, especially comparing men and women. Take a look:

National Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

 It's really tough when you feel that your parents should not be driving anymore. Driving in this country is tantamount to freedom. But this week may be your chance to broach the subject.

I have copied and pasted this information from the National Council on Senior Transportation. 

This is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week
The NCST is pleased to endorse Older Driver Safety Awareness Week Dec. 6 - 12, sponsored by the American Occupational Therapy Association. In the spirit of this observance and the awareness of skills necessary to operate a vehicle safely, we are pleased to provide the following resources through the NCST Web site,

Transportation News for Darien, CT

The town of Darien now has blue bus stop signs along the bus route on the Post Road. This will be very helpful to seniors and others who wish to take public transportation. The buses are senior-friendly, and seniors may ride at a reduced fare – only 60 cents. Tokens can be purchased at Stop and Shop in Noroton Heights. Buses run every 15 to 20 minutes. Regular fare is $1.25.

Take the bus instead of driving!

Seniors in the Suburbs

I live in a suburb of New York, and I must say that when I think of getting old, I often think it would be easier to live in the city. Public transportation is great. There are lots of major teaching hospitals and great doctors. You can have your food delivered, and there are so many things to do. Just looking out the window can be interesting.

Life in the suburbs, while great when raising a family, can be really isolating when you suddenly can't drive or when your friends start moving away or dying. The New York Times ran a good article on Sunday, Dec. 6, on life for seniors in the suburbs of New York. It pointed out that senior centers are playing an increasingly important role, as are senior communities and assisted living facilities.

Senior Centers, unfortunately, can have a stigma of being a place for hot lunch for the hardly-ables. That's why this article was good. It showed how such centers can provide transportation, health-related services and the much-needed social hub that prevents isolation. As baby boomers age, senior centers are going to become even more important.

The town I live in (Darien, CT) has an old senior center in need of renovation. But town squabbling and the recession have put questions of renovation or the building of a new center on hold. If I were going to design a senior center for my town, I'd put in a pool. That way, the seniors could get great exercise in the daytime, and the high school swim team could use the pool in the afternoon, before school, evenings and on weekends. In fact, the whole community could have access to it. I'd put the pool in a bubble, so that it could be an outdoor pool in the summer and indoor in the winter.

I'd make the senior center attractive, too, with lots of light and plenty of computers, wii games and places to read, play cards, attend classes and hear lectures.

I'd make the center the home base for Aging in Place -- an organization dedicated to information and referral for all senior services in our area. (full disclosure - I'm on the advisory board)

Here's a link to the NY Times article & a synopsis.
Suburbs See a Challenge as Residents Grow Older
Published: December 6, 2009
As many New York suburbs find themselves with an increasingly older population, communities must adapt to serve changing needs.

The Good of Hospice Care

I've known three people who were in hospice care, two friends from my church in Connecticut and my uncle in California. In each case, I was so impressed with the quality of the care. Truly, these people received highly caring, gracious care. I felt like the home health aides and nurses were angels, taking their gifts for helping the dying and applying them here, now, on Earth.

So when I read Jane Brody's column on Hospice Care in the New York Times Science Times on December 1, I knew I had to post a link so that others could read it. I knew I had to write about hospice.

There are many people who do not believe in aging in place, especially at the end. They believe that it's wrong to turn the home into a hospital and have people coming and going. But for the people I know who chose to stay at home and have hospice care come to them, aging -- and dying -- in place was peaceful, loving and graceful.

That said, I one of my friends who had hospice care was not at home. She was in Stamford's Hospice near Stamford Hospital. (Richard L. Rosenthal Hospice Residence). When I visited her there, it was clear that she was getting the loving care she needed outside her home. This choice was exactly right for her and her family.

There is no one right way to die. This choice, if possible, should not be dictated by the well meaning social worker or bureaucrat. Rather, each family and each aging individual needs to pick what is right for them.

Here's a link to Brody's column --

In Hospice, Care and Comfort as Life Wanes
Published: December 1, 2009
Patients receiving hospice care tend to live longer and die more peacefully than those who get intensive care for their disease after the treatment no longer helps.