With its bonanza of organizations offering multiple programs just for us, this town is the perfect place for seniors—women and men alike.
By Sally Wendkos-Olds
Ettie Taichman, along with Lisa Cristal and Denise Waxman, launched their voter registration drive as part of a project for the New School’s Institute for Retired Professionals. Photo by Orlando Mendiola. . . . . . . . . . . . .
UPDATED November 15, 2023
Thanks to a program sponsored byComing of Age NYC, I’ve discovered an amazing number of organizations that offer special services to New Yorkers age 50 and older. In fact, there are so many that this is the second part of my report on the groups this city offers. Read and delight in the breadth of choices.
Institute for Retired Professionals (IRP), is now hosted in New York by Cuny Graduate Center. Originally founded at The New School in 1962, IRP is a post-career peer learning community and part of the Lifelong Peer Learning Program. Through IRP, retired and semiretired students from various backgrounds design, teach, and participate in weekly noncredit courses that mirror the content and structure of college courses. Past courses have included art history, basic acting, defining America, censorship and writers, and many more. Besides the classroom activities, groups go to art shows, hear special lectures and readings, take day trips, and domestic and international study trips. To become an IRP member, students register each semester for at least two study groups, agree to be a study group leader, or serve on a working committee. For more information go to the CUNY Graduate Center Lifelong Peer Learning Program homepage, or phone 212-817-2474.
New York Foundation for Senior Citizens and the New York City Department for the Aging held a press conference to discuss the expansion of the Home Sharing Program, and to announce singer Gloria Gaynor as the official spokesperson for the program. Left to right: Gloria Gaynor; Caryn Resnick, Acting Commissioner NYC Department for the Aging; Linda Hoffman, President, New York Foundation for Senior Citizens; William Hubbard, board member of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council. . . . . . . . . . . . .
New York Foundation for Senior Citizens offers various support options for people 60 and over, largely focusing on housing. Funded by federal, state, city, and private sources, its major emphasis is helping people age in place. For more than 30 years its home-sharing program has been matching a person with extra private space with an adult guest, at least one of whom has to be 60 or over—or 55 if willing to share her home with a developmentally disabled adult. The arrangement provides financial and companionship benefits for both parties, and uses Quick-Match, a unique database with 31 lifestyle objectives to determine potentially compatible match mates. Before the housemate moves in, the two people sign a written agreement, and a social worker follows up to assure that all is going well. One recent match included a 32-year-old moving to NYC from Iowa, who moved in with a woman who had recently divorced. To find out more about the program, go to www.nyfsc.org or call 212-962-7559.
Justin Ferate is not an organization and his services are not limited to over-50’s, although most of the people who are on his enormously helpful email list are in our demographic. Justin is a longtime tour guide and instructor of tour guides—in fact, he wrote the NYC exam that tour guides have to pass in order to be licensed in NYC. Drawing on his background in architectural and social history, he spends hours each week assembling the emails he sends to those of us lucky enough to get them. His list, which he began about 25 years ago and now goes to some 3,000 people, reports on especially interesting exhibits, walking tours, book lectures, slide shows, videos, and anything else he has heard about from his network of sources. To sign up, go to his website page Custom Private Tours or email him at email@example.com. Give your name and email address and say, “I would like to be on your mailing list.” He does not share his list with anyone else, so the only emails you’ll receive are those from him, giving you insider information about places to go and sights to see, mostly in New York City. For more contact information: www.justinsnewyork.com/contact.
New York City’s network of 300 Senior Centers across all five boroughs. Elly Shodell, a retired librarian who takes exercise classes at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, told me, “When I retired, I vowed to get more diversity in my life, and going to the center helps me meet people of different ethnic groups.” Senior Center membership and the variety of programs offered are free for everyone over 60. The Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center on West 65th Street that Elly and I belong to is open five days a week and offers Zumba, yoga, and other exercise classes, health procedures like flu shots and blood pressure screenings, very inexpensive tasty lunches, and holiday celebrations. Some centers also serve breakfast, offer art and music lessons, take members on trips, and are open seven days a week. To find a center near you, go to NYC Department for the Aging Resources. Under “Find Help” and “Services” put in your zip code and “Senior Center.” Call the center near you and find out about membership. At my center I had to make an appointment with an intake social worker to become a member.
Citymeals on Wheels delivers more than food. Photo: Citymeals. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Food for the Homebound. Thanks to New York City’s network of food services, no one over 60 should ever go hungry. Even if you (or a relative or friend) cannot go out to buy food, cannot prepare it, or don’t have the money for it, Citymeals can bring home-delivered meals to you. They deliver more than two million meals a year to 18,000 older New Yorkers, 66 percent of them women. Contact Citymeals at 212-687-1234 or www.Citymeals.org to find the case management agency near you; a social worker will assess your eligibility for a range of services, including home-delivered meals. There are no financial criteria to receive meals and the delivery ensures someone will be checking in on you each day. Citymeals’ dedicated volunteers perform a number of valuable tasks, such as delivering meals and providing companionship to isolated older people through their Friendly Visiting program, letters, or phone calls. Founded in 1981, Citymeals is a registered nonprofit organization, and 100 percent of donations go directly to the preparation and delivery of meals.
StartYourRecovery.org offers substance use assistance, with practical advice regarding signs, symptoms, treatment options, and resources in a user-friendly format and language that’s readily understood. One factor that may trigger substance abuse, paradoxically, is retirement. Meant to be a reward for decades in the work force, it turns out that this transition from a busy workday to a nonstop time out can be stressful, challenging, and filled with disappointments. Result? Some retirees begin relying on drugs and alcohol. It takes self-awareness and strength to confront the impact these substances have on their health and relationships. But with support and treatment, they can take control. Here’s a link to Start Your Recovery’s list of drug and alcohol rehab centers and treatment programs in NYC. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sally Wendkos Oldsis an award-winning writer about intimate relationships, personal growth, and development throughout life. In addition to her classic The Complete Book of Breastfeeding, now in its fourth edition, she is the author or coauthor of ten other books and hundreds of articles in major publications.
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