Aging in Place – Your Town
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What Elder Services are There is Your Town?

[BLOGGING NOTICE: Yesterday, the email, RSS, Twitter and Facebook feeds of the blog post were delayed until mid-morning when a reader advised me of the missing messages. It happened because I forgot to set the day and time for automatic publishing. My apologies.


Last week, when I was not quite sick but not well either and told you about it, SusanG who blogs (sometimes) at Hillsborough NJ Journal, left this note:

”Ronni, when you want a day off would you consider a reader-to-reader feedback day? You choose a reader submitted question asking for other readers' opinions or suggestions.

“For example...what senior services are offered by your town, do you use them, or are their other services you would like to see offered? Or experiences moving away from friends and family. Or whatever.

“I have so much respect for the comments your readers make and always find them useful and thought-provoking.”

Life, always full of surprises and occasionally of the negative variety, pitched me a beauty last Thursday morning when I woke to a massively swollen and painful mouth.

It is enough for you to know that when the dentist pointed to the photograph he'd made of it while he explained the problem, I asked if he could do that while I looked elsewhere.

Since then I've been on around-the-clock antibiotics of two kinds and am exhausted. I thought it was the drugs but according to a trip around the medical internet, it is the underlying infection that is making me tired.

As if that's not enough.

As I've discussed in the past, I wear a denture but with the left side of my face still swollen (though not as much as last week), I'm not sticking anything in my mouth – for food, I'm on soup and mashed potatoes.

So in addition to sleeping a lot, I won't leave the house because no one – make that NO ONE – gets to see me without the denture. You can call it vanity all day long, but that's how it is.

All of the above puts me in no mood to write a blog post and since I agree with SusanG that TGB readers are world class commenters, it's up to you today.

Let's go with one of SusanG's questions:

”...what senior services are offered by your town, do you use them, or are their other services you would like to see offered?”

That is broad enough for there to be a wide spectrum of issues to discuss – services from city, county, state; faith organizations, a Village if there is one where you live; senior centers.

As to the last item, for a bit of impetus you might want to re-read a post from July 2013, Are You a Senior Center Snob?

Whatever interests you about elder services - or lack thereof – that you want to talk about today. I'm eager to see how this goes.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Claire Jean: Old Woman Waits

Comments

I'll be back later after a trip to the pool and the hand surgeon. Sorry about the tooth, and I understand about the teeth. Only at bed time did I notice that I'd been to the eye doc with out my partial....which I'd left in the car.

Hope you feel better soon.

Yonkers, NY offers a full range of Senior activities including trips to malls, plays and even Yonkers Raceway and casino. The only problem is transportation.The Para-transit service is very poor in this county and taxis are out of the question. Senior Centers and ALF's as a rule do not have proprietary transportation. The Yonkers Preservation society does its best but only has a limited number of seats available. I wish we could get merchants or a car dealership to donate a vehicle to us. They could put all the advertising they want on it. If anybody knows how this could be done please email me via my blog.

Fresno has a taxi service for those over 72 called Script Taxi. Other places may have this, too.

A senior buys the script through the local bus service office and then calls a number when a taxi is needed. The taxi picks up and delivers the senior and takes the script as payment.

From what I hear from my senior friends who can use the program, it is quite reasonable in price. I am guessing the city transit system underwrites the cost.

The senior housing centers in town all have their own bus for resident's transportation needs. A few even have cars that can be used for just one passenger for a dr.'s appt or such when using a bus would be out of the question.

I wish there was a service in my area where seniors could exchange favors, like trips to out-patient clinics, etc. I don't have family near-by and no close friends. (I didn't get out much when I was a full-time caregiver to my husband for 12 years and a part-time caregiver to my dad in the 5 years before that.) Since my husband died 2 1/2 years ago I've been working my tail off trying to be active in various groups to help build friendships but but so far I have many friendly acquaintances but no close friend to exchange favors with.

P.S. I like the idea of a reader-to-reader feedback day from time to time. (I may even borrow a version of the idea for my own blog.) Time Goes By has some great, spicy discussions in the comment section so an occasional reader-to-reader feedback day could be fun and informative.

Jean, where do you live? I think today's conversation could help those of us downsizing, and trying to figure out where to retire to. Maybe this is a segway to...if I had to do it again, I would/would not have moved to _______ because of the good/lack of senior services.

There are Senior Centers located all over Tucson and I tried several when I still drove, but I found they were not a good fit for me.

When even riding a bus became impossible the only way I could get to them was to use the handicap Van. It's a royal pain to use and I only use it now in emergencies.

I am not a joiner and it has been so long since I tried a Senior Center that I can't speak for my city.

As discussed here, transportation is a major problem. At the town in Texas where my mother is you can hire a driver for $17 an hour, but if you think about the time required for a trip to the doctor's office, that would easily come to $50 or more. I wish responsible college students who just want to earn a little extra cash could get together a business about this.

The city in which I live in northern Illinois, Rockford, used to be second in size in the state, although there is a huge difference between the population of the Windy City and us, at 152,000. We are now third, but in a metropolitan statistical area of about 300,000, so there are plenty of seniors within about a 40 mile radius. Unfortunately, services are not terrific. The agency which coordinates the local Meals on Wheels and some other services held its annual Senior Expo last week, probably the largest local such event. It was held in an indoor sports facility which is not on a bus line, and about a ten mile drive from my house. I would imagine that this limits participation for many, and, in fact, I noticed that many people were being delivered in vans from assisted living centers and other senior facilities. I found about 10% of the exhibitors interesting or sharing information of value to me. The majority were selling insurance, high-priced in-home care, bathtubs for those who cannot use a standard one, food supplements (the only vendor of these that I spoke to could not tell me the contents, only that it "helped him avoid a recommended knee replacement a couple of years ago") expensive dental procedures, alternative health services (though I saw no yoga or Tai Chi). Mostly things that required a hefty one-time or long-term financial commitment. I collected some useful information to share with the mostly older neighbors who attend the neighborhood organization I co-chair, but mostly I felt bad, and kept thinking to myself how abundant the opportunities are for exploitation of this population. And what a lack there was of more important information. I saw nothing about aging in place that did not require shelling out some big bucks for home modification. One of the best booths was presenting information for the Learning in Retirement program connected to our local community college. That is loaded with interesting opportunities, but again, located outside the city in a building that will limit many people's access. There is at least a bus that goes out there, but you would spend about half the day getting there and back.

Christi, to answer your question I live in a town (or rather in the suburbs) of a town of over 600,000 in West Michigan. The bus service ends about 5 miles from where I live, so no public transportation. We have lots of opportunities for social interaction and trips to cultural activities through our very busy senior hall but they don't offer "neighbor-helping-neighbor" kinds of things. We have lots of assisted living places in the area but I really don't need them yet. Transportation for those of us without family near-by is a problem. My family all live in the boondocks so moving near them would do nothing but cut me off from the social life I've come to enjoy where I'm at.


I would appreciate someone to clean and put away the outdoor furniture next week; someone to come by once or twice a year to explain the new (and old!) tech information for computer and cell phones; someone who could assist going through boxes of memorable or useless items that now number in the dozens; help with eliminating unwanted clothing and household items & then donating them to my favorite homeless shelter.

And I'd love for someone who could put together a list of all the small, pesky things (like screen repairs, paint touch-ups, ceramic gluing, etc.) and have it all done.

Now, where is that fairy godmother!!? I don't think I'm done yet...

Seattle has a couple of existing "villages," with more under development. The one in my neighborhood offers rides for people--to go to doctor appointments or the grocery store or whatever. The drivers are volunteers.

I am not yet in need of such services, but I certainly appreciate the fact that bus rides for those 65 and over are only 75 cents apiece. I have a bus pass that I can reload online so it's very convenient. It makes it possible for me to go downtown without having to deal with traffic and parking.

Suz...
What you want/need is exactly what Villages are designed to provide among many other services both professional and volunteer.

To someone above who said he or she couldn't afford to move into a Village - a Village I am referring to and working with is not a place. It is a group of people in the same geographical area working together to help one another age in their homes.

I've written about it here in the past and will again in the future.

We have a county health dept. that provides foot care for my DH every 2 mos. I take him to a local church hall where 2 RNs trim toe nails, check vital signs, give out flu shots when available (we both got them there last year)check his heart & lungs & wgt. If requested, once a year they check blood glucose &/or iron for anemia. It's a wonderful service, but you have to have transportation. The county svcs. on aging also have people who will do odd jobs around the house (nothing major)& some light housekeeping for a nominal fee. I think there are other things available, but I've not needed any. We do have meals (also for a fee) on wheels & some transport at $7 a trip for drs. appt. or shopping. This is a mostly deprived socio-economic area, yet I think the services provided are very good. There is a bus/van system for people who work, that Is based on income..........not sure how that works. Dee

I live in the S.W. corner of Spain and, as I've written before, there is an expectation that families will look after their older relatives. Indeed the obligation to do so is enshrined in law.

Having said that, there are very lively "pensioner centres" with subsidised meals, chiropody, hairdressin, dances and guest speakers, including those on sexual health. Spanish speaking foreigners can join if they wish, but there is a charitable organisation "Age Concern" that provides services to the English speaking community over 50. Lifts for shopping, hospital or medical appointments, befriending, respite care for carers, aids to daily living like walkers, wheelchairs on loan are all run by volunteers and cost free to the "client".

Ronni,

I'm lucky in that I have never had a reason to look up the Senior services in my town.

Thankfully, I still drive my car and have sons in the area who help me with small chores.

The big things like painting the house etc, are done by a terrific handyman/painter who has been in business in my area for years and is reliable and inexpensive.

The main reason I am commenting is to tell you how sorry I am that you have an infection that is making you ill and affecting your ability to eat.

I hope you feel better soon and are able to get back to your normal activities.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Nancy

Ronni, the next time you write about the Village concept can you include links to and/or ideas on how to start a Village? I'd like to print off some resources to take to our senior hall along with a proposal that we start something like that here. I'm pretty sure the director would be open to the idea but I'd need something in writing to show her. We just raised enough money to buy a brand new tour bus so we can quit renting them for our many day trips, I would think we could organize a Village if people know about the idea and have a game plan to follow.

So many people mention transportation as an issue. I am wondering if any of you have tried put any of the app-based ride options that are now available if you use a smart phone? They are generally less expensive than taxis, and cleaner and larger. You can even request an SUV. Also since you store your credit card info safely in the app, you don't need to carry cash and don't need to tip. Ask your kids and grandkids who live in larger cities about Uber and Lyft. I bet they will tell you that they will never take a taxi again!

Our senior center has a handyman service; he is paid a salary by the center. He was terrific and was not trying to sell me more than I needed. Just today, I went to a very informative insurance counseling session (independent not sales based) also at the senior center. Next month I am going on a bus trip to see a Broadway show. These services alone are worth more than the $25 yearly membership fee.

Well, as Canadians in an affluent province (not all are) we are blessed. We have a $5,000 dental allowance which renews each three years, a $5,000 fund we can draw on to replace major appliances or furniture - our fridge died Thursday and a new one is being delivered in about an hour. $700 of the $1100 will be covered. My husband has serious strength and coordination problems so a health care worker comes daily to help him shower and do personal care. A woman comes to do the heavy cleaning weekly. I still drive but Public Transit tickets for low income seniors are $11 a year, and if you are disabled and unable to use the Transit you can get a Handicab Card which gives you $75.00 worth of taxi rides at $1.75 a ride. There's an excellent senior's centre downtown which also administrates two low-rent high rises for seniors which are attached to the centre. Meals on Wheels offers meals to those who can no longer cook for themselves and aids for Daily Living install ramps, grab bars, commodes and other safety devices in homes. All the Leisure Centres offer senior's swim rates so you can swim for $3.00. It's even less if you buy a monthly or season pass. We have a Leisure Centre and library about 10 blocks away. The Library always has free classes going on, from music appreciation to book clubs and cultural exchange programs, estate planning. And the library has a community garden, which is used by people of all ages. Gotta go empty my fridge, which has been basically an ice chest since Thursday night! Feel better soon Ronni!

Ronni, hope you are getting better.
I was mid-response when the phone rang. By the time I got back to this box, my time had run out.

So here we go again. The short and sweet is Bruce is right.

And so are the other posters above when they say transportation is issue number one.

Montreal and suburbs have tons of activities for seniors. Everything you can imagine.

Back to transportation, the lack of..

My mom uses taxi vouchers which we give her, but she says having no car is like having no legs.

So far, the NORC idea would be great for my husband and I. We have cars, but use the bus on weekends downtown.

Seniors have reduced fare passes.

But many seniors are frightened of taking the bus, or having to stand outside in winter.

I like those electric bikes but bike theft is a thing in Montreal. We would need secure bike garages.

And who rides a bike in winter?

A few hardy souls.

We could all use a "Driving Miss Daisy" chauffeur when we reach that magic age of no car.

Here in Central Jersey I live in a 54-square-mile suburban town of almost 40,000 people. According to the 2010 Census, 9.3% of our residents are 65 or older, and 6.3% of our households consist of a single person over 65 years old.
Both our township and our county have small senior transportation buses that run some regular routes such as twice-weekly trips to the grocery store, but you have to arrange ahead for a single trip such as a doctor’s appointment and allow a lot of time to coordinate with other seniors who need the bus. From the township: “Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to senior citizens, age 60 and over, without other means of transportation. Transportation is provided to area doctors, senior wellness programs at the municipal building, grocery shopping, etc. The purpose of the program is to promote an independent lifestyle for senior residents.” Our Rotary Club purchased a handicapped-assist transportation van for the use of any resident.
There are two senior centers about two-blocks apart – one run by the county, one by the township in our municipal building. The county center has a series of programs such as Tai Chi, exercise classes, computer assistance/instruction, speakers, crafts, music, coupon exchanges, health screenings, and music programs. The county also has a low-cost lunch program. Our township center is more of a large room put aside for seniors to use for cards, scrabble, and games (Mahjong seems to be very popular). There is also a billiard room and a computer room. The Senior Wellness Program runs activities every day. Our township senior exercise program partnered with the local YMCA for memberships.
Out town sponsors a Mr. FixIt Senior Program. These volunteers do small home repairs such as leaky faucets with the resident paying for parts or material. We have a Meals on Wheels program and often there are High School groups doing service projects such as autumn yard cleanups.
When we had to arrange assistance for my in-laws we were able to turn to our County Office on Aging and Disability Services – every NJ county has one. They sent out a very knowledgeable lady who assessed what they needed and what was available – from food to wheelchairs to legal counseling. She helped with follow-up and paperwork.
The county also has an Adult Day Care Center to assist those needing care and their caregivers.
I tried attending a senior expo, but found most of the information was from medical facilities, assisted living, nursing homes, and visiting nurse groups, etc.

Did I miss anything you are looking for?

I want to live in Canada where Deb lives. It sounds like paradise, but the catch is probably dealing with snow in winter which would be a deal breaker for this native Californian. Seriously, here in Sacramento, I am totally uninformed about services, if any, offered to seniors. I know there are senior centers, but like seemingly everything else in the world, they usually schedule services and activities for the morning hours and by the time my afternoon-person body is ready to partake, it's all over.

I do have cheap rides on ParaTransit (which I hate)for my monthly eye injection appointments because I can't drive myself back from them. Otherwise I drive myself everywhere---so far. I'm not looking forward to the time when I can no longer do that. I hire a lot of handymen and cleaners and window washers and haulers, etc. which can be very stressful since they never seem to know exactly how to do a good job. All I want is that they do things as well as I used to do myself until I was about 70---not too much to ask, I think.

After reading a previous column about the fear of dying or falling and not being discovered, I found that Eskaton has a daily phone check service and I was supposed to be emailed an application. That was a week ago and still no application. This is what I often encounter: the service sounds good, but the follow-through is either inept or non-existent.

I remember in a book by Anne Tyler the main characters, a group of young people, ran a service for seniors called something like "Rent-a-Back" which, for a monthly fee, did all those oddball things one used to do but are now just out of reach, like taking down the Xmas tree and the kind of things Luz mentions in her comment. If our local college students had any work ethic and weren't getting all their money from home, they might establish such a service. It would actually be kind of analogous to Uber and Lyfft, only for home services.

Ann Arbor, MI has taxi service for seniors--$4 one-way if you call the same day that you need a lift and $3 if you call the day before. The taxi will take you anywhere in the Ann Arbor area. Sometimes you share a ride and sometimes you don't. It is door-to-door. Bus rides are free for seniors.

Hi Ronni,
Hope you feel better.
I live on Long Island New York, and am a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee in Nassau County of our New York Connects Program. Every County outside the city has one.
New York City has one for the city as a whole. The function is to provide assistance in finding Long Term Care not only for seniors but for any one of any age. It is available to older citizens on Dialisis, children needing breathing help, etc. I was on the sub-committee that set up our brochures and insisted the text be on no more than a ninth grade reading level. The phone is answered by a human being. Interpretors are available in at least six languages. We are monitored by the State and the results seem to show our County is one of the best in the state.
I hope that is helpfull to your followers in New York.
Jay H. broad

Ronni - thanks for making right my wrong...and yes, I hope to eventually end up where there is a Village. There is none where I live, but we have many senior services, interests, centers, etc., but I haven't used them as yet.

I hope you're beyond the pain now. I think this 'experiment' worked well!

Just outside San Diego is a NORC

I live about 12 miles north of there. I'm tempted to trade in my condo here for a condo there.

Here on Cape Cod with a permanent population of at least 13% seniors, every town has a very active senior center,there are many services I have not looked into, like Meals on Wheels and Seniors Helping Seniors. Much more I'm sure.

I am most involved in the Academy for Lifelong Learning which is for those over 55 and is entirely volunteer -- by and for seniors. Housed at the community college it offers up to 60 classes a semester given by retired professionals (from Latin to wine tasting, including current events, all kinds of history, etc -- NO crafts) This being a retirement haven for professionals what is offered at A.L.L. is well beyond what most senior centers offer. Of cousre many people involved in A.L.L. are also active in other organiations.

Walla Walla has a transit system that goes by or near almost everything I might to visit. There is a "Senior/Disabled" permit that allows a body to ride for 25¢. There is a Dial-A-Ride program, pass for $12 a month, that will pick you up at and return you to your door. Or you can pay 75¢. You have to plan ahead for this. Since we ice up for weeks every winter and get weeks over 100° in the summer the door to door program is a necessity for anyone who can't manage in adverse weather. But, don't plan on it being quick.

Our senior center here is small. There are daily lunches served for a suggested donation of $4, or no charge. They also manage the Meals on Wheels program, and run an Adult Daycare program providing respite for caregivers as well as a good program for those being served. They host classes, painting, bridge, tai chi, and the like and there are three pool tables that are heavily used ;-). They also provide health screening, foot care, free haircuts once a month, 1/2 hour of free legal advice, and with AARP do our taxes for free.

There is one pharmacy and one grocery store that will deliver to your door.

There are three colleges here that provide a lot of events many of them gratis. I just saw Neil deGrasse Tyson here at Whitman College, not free, but more than worth it. at Walla Walla Community College the over 65 crowd can take up to 2 classes for $2.50 each on a space available basis.

Walla Walla also has two hospitals that can handle most things. Serious heart problems and some other conditions still seem to require being airlifted to Spokane or Seattle. You can subscribe to a medical air service for about $60 if your insurance doesn't cover this. Not just for elders of course.

I think we are doing pretty well for a town of 32,000 in a remote corner of the state. About 15% of us are over 65. About 11% of these are under the poverty line. We need a programs to check in on seniors, especially those living alone. Some churches have them but we have nothing that includes the population at large as far as I can tell.

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