To outsiders, NYC’s frantic pace may not seem to hold much appeal to seniors, especially compared to a pleasant township on the coast!
However, dig just below the surface and you’ll find an abundance of convenient community resources which can make the city a great place for living well.
The City as Our Community
It’s frequently said of students at New York University that the city is their campus. The same is true of seniors in the city. In a city like New York, you may find your social life has a focus, such as family, a volunteer job or a senior center, but your community begins on your block and spreads outwards.
Some blocks or neighborhoods take it further and we have seen volunteers turn the fabric of their informal community into small, effective organizations. A “network of neighbors helping neighbors” as one such organization on the Upper West Side describes itself.
The idea is simple. Volunteers helping each other out, organized through volunteer committees. The scale is awesome! This hyper-local organization helps seniors with everything from rent raises to exercise classes, activity groups, outings to concerts and museums and much more.
If you live on the Upper West Side, we recommend you contact DOROT on West 85th Street to ask what local or block-level organizations might be near you. DOROT is a leader in senior services and volunteer programs - a very professional outfit: dorotusa.org
Many senior centers are also active communities. The Stein Senior Center in lower Manhattan’s Gramercy area is a great example of such a place: steinseniorcenter.org. Seniors are involved in the running of their own center and the programs they put on include computer classes, free tax preparation, dance and an Alzheimer’s early intervention program.
Finding such a community in your area can enhance and strengthen the community fabric that begins with your local bodega, laundry service and your doorman.
Get Involved using Technology
In an earlier blog post we suggested that seniors should get involved in tech, and that it’s easier than many think. Just start with something that’s fun or useful, and go from there!
In turn, tech offers some more ways to connect to your city.
Senior Planet is a tech-themed resource center that seniors can use to learn and access technology. Their frequent workshops are opportunities to learn or build skills. Or, you can simply use their computers to write a story or an email. The social events are great, too. Check them out on Facebook.
Do you believe that seniors should be more involved in tech? Consider getting in touch with Older Adults Technology Service (OATS). OATS runs the Senior Planet center and is active in training and gaining insights from senior people about technology in the city.
Already active online and looking for a new group that shares your offline interests? Try using Meetup.com. Need a new challenger for chess or backgammon? Like to meet with single seniors that are vegetarian or vegan? Well there are groups for that!
A website like seniordiscounts.com offers discounts of all kinds to seniors that you could use to purchase a prescription, enjoy a movie, or tour a museum.
Thinking about looking for a new partner? Try seniorpeoplemeet.com.
Many (most!) in NYC get around without their own car. Like the famous quote from Mayor Petro of Bogota, Colombia,
“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it’s where the rich ride public transportation.”
Living in the great city of New York, we know this is true. The fastest way to anywhere in the city is generally on the subways, buses and ferries of the MTA. Usually on a single fare. This is great news for seniors, who can get around the boroughs without the bother of traffic or parking.
However, the subways can get hectic. And after you have had a fall, or if you’re not feeling at your best, the stairs down to a station or up onto a bus may suddenly seem more challenging than they once did.
When accessing the city’s public transport becomes difficult, NYC seniors can rely on Access-A-Ride. A door to door taxi service for seniors. And here’s the kicker: Access-A-Ride is operated by the MTA and costs the same as a single fare: $2.50. Plus you can bring your caregiver for free. They will wait at your door and give you all the time you need to comfortably get your things together.
Access-A-Ride has conditions for eligibility, and you do need to allow extra time for your journey, but maintaining your mobility in the city can be priceless. Check it out on the MTA’s website.
New York City has an enormous amount to give to - and benefit from - the seniors in its communities. If you can reach out to seek and contribute advice, New York is a great place to stay independent and active. We love our city.