To the editor:
(re: “Ensuring seniors are safe right call for RNH,” May 28)
COVID-19 has been especially tough on senior citizens in Riverdale. We are physically more vulnerable to the virus. Staying at home to stay safe also has come with challenges that are increased by age.
Where to seek help? Here are two excellent starting points: AccessNYC.gov will help you explore available government programs and apply for benefits. Aging Connect — at (212) 244-6469 — will connect you with an aging specialist at the city’s aging department who can direct you to a number of services.
Now, we’d like to introduce you and your loved ones to a new resource developed and curated by Gray Panthers and the Florence Belsky Foundation. SeniorStrongNYC.org is unique in that it is local and specifically addresses the challenge of thriving at home during these exceptional times. Here is some of what you are likely to find.
We have links to resources that can connect you with benefits and services that will deliver food, medicine and other essentials, as well as help you pay for them. Several programs offer assistance with food delivery — New York City has an emergency home food delivery program.
Invisible Hands can match you with a volunteer who will help and shop and deliver food, medicine and other essentials. SeniorStrongNYC.org also can link you directly to city emergency assistance with food, rent, and even the possibility of obtaining an air-conditioner for seniors who do not already have one.
Legal assistance for those potentially facing eviction is available from the volunteers of the legal services hotline at (347) 521-5704.
Trying to stay at home is certainly not easy. SeniorStrongNYC.org has local resources to help. We all feel isolated to one degree or another during these trying times, and seniors perhaps even more so. There are numerous ways to increase our sense of connection to others.
Telephone reassurance and friendly visits are available through several Bronx entities, such as the Riverdale Neighborhood House, recently featured in this paper. Aging Connect can match you with a volunteer who will call regularly. Senior Planet has a technology hotline to help you access Zoom and other apps, such as Gmail, which you can reach at (920) 666-1959.
Trouble filling your day with new and interesting activities? We have links to different types of local music arts and culture, as well as links to libraries.
Who doesn’t feel anxious during this pandemic? RSS-Riverdale Senior Services offers online yoga and exercise. You also will find several meditation sites. ThriveNYC offers information on accessing mental health support. The state’s mental health office offers emotional support by calling (844) 863-9314.
Caregivers also can find useful information through our website. Presbyterian Senior Services offers online webinars and a caregiver support group. Caregivers caring for a loved one with COVID-19 may be eligible for city paid safe and sick leave.
SeniorStrongNYC.org is an integral part of Gray Panther’s mission. Since 1970, Gray Panthers has fought ageism and social injustice. In this spirit, we offer links to sites that help seniors advocate for themselves. SeniorStrongNYC.org also offers connections to our organization, as well as others that address ageism, such as This Chair Rocks.
We’ve covered only a small portion of what’s available. Welcome to a resource where older New Yorkers — and those who love them — can find help navigating the challenges of everyday life. Right now.
Barbara Lynn Kail
Kail is an associate professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, while Kupferman is president of Gray Panthers, NYC.