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SPRING 2021

• Seniors staying connected from home and meals-on-wheels services • Tax tips for seniors and caregivers • Alzheimer’s disease — symptoms and care


QUEENS CHRONICLE • SENIOR QUEENSLIVING CHRONICLE, GUIDE,Thursday, Thursday,March March18, 18,2021 2021Page Page162

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“A SSISTING SENIORS

CONTENTS

IN THEIR HOMES

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• Seniors staying connected from home and meals-on-wheels services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 4 • Tax tips for seniors and caregivers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 8 • Alzheimer’s disease — symptoms and care . . . . . . . Page 10

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MARGARET TIETZ


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Senior Living Guide

A year later, seniors still facing isolation by Michael Gannon Chronicle Contributor

Social isolation has always been a problem that a given percentage of the senior citizen population has to deal with. But when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the city with a vengeance one year ago, things got worse. Far worse. Seniors living independently suddenly could not be visited by family and friends. Those with health issues might not be able to get out to grocery stores. Otherwise independent and mobile seniors who counted on visits to senior centers for meals and socialization suddenly saw them shut down. Barry Klitsberg, president of the Queens Interagency Council on Aging, said the impact can’t be understated, and that it crosses all ethnic groups in every part of the city. “It’s especially a problem in nursing homes, because they can’t have visitors, although that is beginning to open up with restrictions,” Klitsberg said in a telephone interview. “It’s a big problem because people are being forced into isolation because of where they live.” Those who relied on daily or at least regular visits to senior centers were slammed almost immediately. “It’s through no fault of anybody — the senior centers were closed because they were ordered to; because they had to,” Klitsberg said. “You have to keep people safe. And between November and April — six months, it’s too cold to even go out and sit on a bench.” He said the response from the city and organizations such as Citymeals on Wheels offering programs has helped. “But not as many as I’d like to see,” he said. Klitsberg has seen seniors take some initiative themselves seemingly out of need, resourcefulness or even desperation in his job as a Medicare counselor. “People call up, ostensibly with a problem,” he said. “They’re so happy that they get

City agencies, the Queens Public Library and even emergency food organizations have instituted programs to reach out to senior citizens by phone and computer to keep them from being socially isolated — and just to check in with them to make sure all is well. a person picking up instead of a computer. They just want someone to talk to. I’m getting that a lot and I’m sure it’s happening all over the city.” “Covid has taken a year from people’s lives.” City, nonprofits and others have sprung into action to help. Late last October the city Department for the Aging launched the Friendly VOICES (Virtual Opportunities Improving Conditions with Elders) program to provide seniors with friendship and engagement through weekly phone or video calls. “This crisis has caused older New Yorkers to be more socially isolated than ever before,”

A Citymeals on Wheels driver is greeted by one of her regular clients with a broad smile. The drivers bring some in-person contact, conversation and a simple safety check as well as three days’ worth PHOTO COURTESY CITYMEALS ON WHEELS of nutritions meals.

DFTA Commissioner Lorraine CortésVázquez said in a press release. “Our goal is to keep them connected and socially engaged, and Friendly VOICES can help achieve that by being available to all older New Yorkers. New Yorkers of all ages have shown great resiliency and support for one another during this crisis. We have also heard from many that they would like to do more. Friendly VOICES provides New Yorkers the opportunity to step up, volunteer and help our elders during these tough times.” They are especially seeking volunteers who speak foreign languages. Seniors who want to join or volunteers who want to sign up can call DFTA’s resource line, Aging Connect, at (212) Aging-NYC (2446469), or visit the DFTA website at https:// www1.nyc.gov/site/dfta/index.page. At the Queens Public Library, even when the buildings shut down, the services for the elderly did not. Already situated with the technology, senior programs only expanded. A library spokeswoman said its Mail-ABook and virtual Older Adults programs are still very much active. While many libraries are open for to-go service, in-person programming still is not yet being offered. Even in pre-Covid times, the library had a robust offering of virtual senior activities, offering teleconferencing and online health chats, art history lectures, author talks, singalongs, crossword puzzles, bingo games and general group chats. It also had more than 900 participants in its Mail-A-Book program pre-Covid. Once the pandemic started, the library only expanded its programs. But the spokesperson also said even after

the Queens Public Library resumes in-person programming, virtual offerings are here to stay especially those homebound seniors. Information on all the programs is available online at queenslibrary.org. Officials at Citymeals on Wheels, which brings food to homebound seniors on weekends and holidays when other nutrition programs do not function, saw the storm was coming. Among the clients it had to add immediately were the seniors who lost their regular meals through senior center nutrition programs; or who were forced by circumstances to become virtual shut-ins. One of the added benefits of the program always has been the driver who makes the rounds, who knows the recipients’ names and even favorite foods stopping to say hello. One small difference is that they must leave the food on a door handle and wait at a safe social distance for the client to open the door and bring it inside, while still saying hello and checking to make sure all is well. “With Citymeals, it’s always nice to have someone ringing your doorbell,” Klitsberg said. And the organization’s employees, volunteers and donors, as with many other emergency food relief programs, upped their game. The agency said it has served more than three million meals since the start of the pandemic. It is now regularly serving 20,000 seniors, an increase of nearly 3,000 from its pre-Covid roster. All, according to the agency, are 60 or older. Their volunteers, numbering 10,000, have donated more than 35,000 hours in the past 12 months. A statement form Citymeals on Wheels states that one in 10 seniors was food insecure prior to Covid-19, and that the numbers have only gotten worse. Those in need or interested in volunteering may contact the organization online at citymeals.org. It also said that 8 percent of its meal recipients have no other person to whom they can talk on a regular basis other than their Citymeals driver. Fortunately, the group also has its Friendly Visiting Program, with volunteers meeting each week with elderly New Yorkers. “We’ve been doing it for 15 years,” said Vivienne O’Neill, Citymeals’ senior director of Volunteer Programs & Corporate Engagement. “It was always an in-person visit, but since the pandemic we’ve pivoted to Zoom.” Each volunteer is paired with a senior, and they are in touch one to two times per week, sometimes for 30 minutes to an hour sometimes longer. “Isolation is a result of the pandemic,” O’Neill said. “The volunteers listen to their troubles and share their joys.” But even by phone or zoom, it is an important safety check. “The volunteers are trained to notice changes in the senior’s environment,” she said. “Are they slurring their words? Do they sound depressed? Are they not interested in Q talking? It is very much a safety check.”


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DELAYED IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW PENALTY PERIOD FOR COMMUNITY MEDICAID By Donna Furey, Esq.

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How can senior citizens find out what it’s like to live at Flushing House, their friendly neighborhood retirement residence? Simple! Stay with them for an inexpensive Two Week Trial Stay, and find out what Independent Living at Flushing House is all about. Experience the warm and caring lifestyle of their unique senior community, for an incredible, low price. Enjoy a comfortable, furnished apartment, with continental breakfast, lunch and dinner served by their expert Culinary Team, housekeeping, 24-hour security, Life Enrichment programs and much more. And all this for only $30 per night. Yes, that’s right, just Flushing House, the innovative retire$390 for two weeks. For couples, the stay ment residence built in 1974, was one is only $50 a night. of the first to offer older adults an “IndeThey only have a limited number of stu- pendent Living” lifestyle with supportive dios available for Two Week Trial Stays, services on-premises. As a not for profit and all applicants must be prequalified. organization, their mission is: To provide a So, call for your pre-qualification interview, safe, enjoyable and affordable retirement and reserve your Two Week Trial Stay. experience for our residents. For further Call 347-532-3000 or call their toll-free information, visit www.flushinghouse.com http://www.flushinghouse.com. number 888-987-6205. – ADVERTORIAL –

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Senior Living Guide

Tax tips, credits and what can be deducted by David Russell Associate Editor

The annual filing of taxes always seems to be joined by the annual questions and confusion about the process. According to senior-living referral service A Place For Mom, seniors need to file a return if: • they’re unmarried, with a gross income of at least $14,050; • they’re married, filing jointly with a spouse who is also over 65, with a combined gross income of at least $27,400: or • they’re married, filing jointly with a spouse who is under 65, with a combined gross income of at least $26,100. There is also the question of what counts as taxable income for seniors. Generally, Social Security benefits don’t count as gross income. If they are a senior’s only source of income, he or she does not need to file taxes. When people receive money from both Social Security and other sources, like employment, they generally shouldn’t count benefits toward their gross income. There are a few circumstances when seniors must include a percentage of their Social Security benefits in gross income: • if a senior is married, living with a spouse but filing separately, 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits are considered gross income; • a portion of Social Security benefits are included, regardless of filing status, if the sum of half a senior’s Social Security benefits plus all other income exceeds $25,000. Military retirement pay based on age or length of service is taxable and must be included as income for federal taxes. That amount should be reported as pension income for the year. Select seniors qualify for the tax Credit for the Elderly or Disabled, a credit that ranges between $3,750 and $7,500.

There are times when seniors must include a percentage of Social Security benefits in their gross income. 401KCALCULATOR.ORG / FLICKR Qualifying seniors must be: • 65 and older; and • have an adjusted gross income or total of nontaxable Social Security, pensions and annuities less than established income limits. The credit varies greatly by circumstance, marital status and benefits. For more information, visit irs.gov/publications/p524. A child and dependent care credit doesn’t require an elderly loved one to qualify as a dependent. It’s based on the money a caregiver spends on them. To receive the credit there are certain qualifications including cohabitation, as an elderly relative must have lived with the filer for at least six months dur-

ing the tax year, partial dependence, incapacity, employment and spousal employment. Seniors can deduct most medical and dental expenses prescribed by a doctor. Generally, only expenses paid for in the tax year can be deducted, regardless of when a procedure took place. In addition to surgeries, appointments and prescription drugs, other expenses can be deducted including bandages, renovations for senior home safety and accessibility, oxygen, guide dogs or other service animals, prescription vision or hearing aids, lead-based paint removal, smoking cessation aids and more. Some expenses that can’t be deducted include diapers, bottled water and cosmetic surgeries. People who want to claim an elderly loved one as a dependent on income taxes must meet five requirements: • they must be related, including stepparents and in-laws. The IRS doesn’t count foster parents as relatives; to claim a foster parent, they must live with the person for a year or more as a member of the household; • the relative must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national with a Social Security number or resident alien to qualify as a dependent; • they can’t file a joint return. Even if they’re married, seniors must file separately to qualify; • the relative’s gross income for 2020 must be less than $4,300, not including Social Security payments or other taxexempt income; and • the filer must provide more than half of the elderly loved one’s support, including clothing, lodging, food, transportation and recreation. Q For more information, visit aplaceformom.com.

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Page 923QUEENS QUEENSCHRONICLEE CHRONICLE, Thursday, • SENIORMarch LIVING 18,GUIDE, 2021 Thursday, March 18, 2021

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She is currently the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Queens and was past President of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association, past President of the Astoria Kiwanis Club, past President of the East River Kiwanis Club, and past President of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Queens.


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QUEENS CHRONICLE • SENIOR QUEENS LIVING CHRONICLE, GUIDE, Thursday, March 18, 2021 Page 24 10

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Senior Living Guide

Socialization, education key to Alzheimer’s by Katherine Donlevy Associate Editor

Memory loss is by far the most commonly known symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, but there are many other nuanced indicators that reveal one may be suffering f rom the degenerat ive brai n disorder. “A lot is subtle in the beginning, but there’s a sense that they have trouble concentrating or are having difficulty in daily life,” said Jed Levine, president emeritus of external relations for Cari ng K i nd , a Ma n hat t a n-based Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving organization. “They might lose their train of thought. They report they feel foggy or confused. For someone who is managing their life independently, things start falling apart,” he continued. Although symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, multitasking, making reasonable decisions and navigating daily life might be easy for an onlooker to link to Alzheimer’s, others may be harder to pin down. According to the Mayo Clinic, Alzheimer’s disease sufferers may exhibit signs of depression, apathy, social withdrawal, mood swings, distrust in others, irritability, loss of inhibitions and changes in sleeping habits. Simple tasks, such as laundry or cooking, become seemingly i m p o s si ble, s a id L ev i n e — Alzheimer’s patients have difficulty managing their executive functions, which are the set of

Although Alzheimer’s disease is not preventable, research suggests socializing with others and maintaining cognitive functions better a patient’s experience. Isolation has proven detrimental to those suffering, said Jed Levine of CaringKind. According to the New York City organization, nearly 5 million Americans PEXEL.COM PHOTOS suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

Although the disease will inevitably corrode the brain, a patient in the early stages is completely competent of identif ying the unusual behavior. Self-detection can be beneficial because it supplies the patient with an opportunity to prepare themselves for the journey to come. Others who are further into the disease may have to rely on loved ones and family members to detect any change in character because the brain will already have destroyed its ability to identify its own abnormalities. “One of the things we certainly advise is if a family member is concerned, go for an evaluat i o n ,” s a i d L e v i n e . “Ea rly detect ion a nd connection to suppor t and providing information early — we know improves the outcome for the person with the disease. It’s not going to change the course, but it’s going to help them cope better.” Because there is no known cure for A l z hei me r’s d ise a se, Levine said many patients would rather not think or talk about the journey ahead, but it is important to acknowlThe Mayo Clinic defines Alzheimer’s disease as a progressive neurologic disorder that edge it and take action. Most of the medications causes the brain to shrink and brain cells to die. cognitive processes that control behavior. A common misconception of the disease, Levine said, is that it only affects the elderly. Although risk increases as age rises, Alzheimer’s has been known to affect those in their 60s. Researchers are still uncertain why the disease largely strikes older adults, although emerging studies suspect it could be linked to age-related breakdown in brain function, such as atrophy, production of unstable molecules and more.

available for symptom treatment guaranteed to stop the disease, are best used in the early stages, however. “It’s not going to change the he said. Fi nd i ng a com mu n it y that course, but it’s going to make understands the hardships of the them feel good,” said Levine. “frightening” and “isolating” dis- “The advice is to be able to socialease is also vital to preserving ize so you’re not doing it alone quality of life, Levine pointed out. and talk about it with a trusted Those who have lost family advisor, whether it’s a helpline members to Alzheimer’s can eval- [hotline] or to trust in friends.” Levine said the pandemic has uate their own risk factor for the disease and increase their oppor- provided tragic proof that isolation has negative effects on those with tunities to detect symptoms early. dementia. A l z h e i m e r ’s “We’re seei ng disease is not a prethose people ventable condition, decline rapidly as a emory loss is but the Mayo Clinresult of being isoic suggests certain just one of lated,” he said. “It’s lifestyle modificat r au m at ic a nd tions can reduce many signs of astressful time.” the risk of cardioThe most imporvascular disease, degenerative tant step, according which could lower neurologic to Levine, is eduthe risk of developcating oneself ing Alzheimer’s or disease. about the disease. dementia. T hese There’s power in “heart-healthy lifestyle choices” include exercising knowledge, whether it’s gleaned regularly; eating a diet of fresh from books, online resources or produce, healthy oils and foods stories about others’ experiences, low in saturated fat; and manag- that can be extremely beneficial. Equally important to educating ing high blood pressure. Preserving cognitive skills has and supporting patients is extendbeen connected to risk reduction ing the comfort to their caregivers as well, the Mayo Clinic suggests. as well, Levine said. “You want to help family careStaying social, reading, dancing, playing board games, creating art, givers to learn good self-care playing an instrument and other techniques. Good self-care is not activities that require mental and selfish,” Levine said. “Find supsocial engagement can be benefi- port, reach out to organizations and find community especially in cial in stalling Alzheimer’s. Q Preventative measures are not this time.”

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Finding the proper in-home health care when your loved ones are no longer able to care for themselves is an important part of maintaining a positive lifestyle. In-home care services may be necessary due to illness or even the inevitable test of time. Perfect Gentle Hands provides senior care services catered to each individual for one’s specific needs from meal preparation to inhome nursing care. The professional care givers at Perfect Gentle Hands Home Care Agency treat your loved one as a member of their own family.

• Alzheimer and dementia care

For Alzheimer’s care to companion care from 5 hours to 24 hours per day, our professional nurses and care givers are dedicated to providing the highest standards of quality senior services care in all that we do.

throughout Jamaica, Queens, The Bronx,

Below is a list of our services: • Companion care • Personal care • Live-in care • Residential care • Senior and adult living care • Senior and adult personal care

environment that is uniquely HOME!

• Geriatric counseling services • Meal preparation • Diabetic diet • Kosher diet • Diet and traditional diet • Medication reminders All our care professionals are certified, licensed, bonded & COVID tested. Perfect Gentle Hands Home Care Agency provides compassionate senior care services Brooklyn, Manhattan, NY, Long Island & Staten Island. Enjoy the comfort, security and familiar Perfect Gentle Hands Home Care Agency is ready and willing to partner with you and your family to ensure optimal health. Call Perfect Gentle Hands Home Care Agency at 347-809-4407 to learn more!

– ADVERTORIAL –

OZANAM HALL OF QUEENS NURSING HOME, INC. “The difference is love.” OZANAM HALL OF QUEENS Shared Commitment is demonstrated NURSING HOME, INC., has been by a team spirit that has a shared sense serving the Bayside, and surrounding, communities since 1971. Administered by the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirmed it is governed by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Service. We welcome everyone who meets the criteria for admission to our geriatric care. We pride ourselves, and are recognized for our outstanding SHORTTERM REHABILITATION Program along with our LONG-TERM Care and CALVARY HOSPICE CARE at Ozanam Hall. As a fi ve-star facility, Ozanam Hall is predicated on the Core Values of Hospitality, providing a welcoming, personcentered environment and atmosphere of a “Home”; Compassion – in the words of Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa, we strive to be “kinder than kindness itself.” All life is sacred, and we advocate especially on behalf of the elderly through our belief in the Sanctity of Life. Our

of achievement, accountability, ideas, insights and the commitment to the wise stewardship of resources. Our affiliation with local and far-reaching hospitals, central location, ease of transportation, and focus on self-centered care allow us to say that with Ozanam Hall, “the difference is love!” Located at 42-41 201st Street, Bayside, NY 11361. Call us and come in for a tour: 718-971-2620/1/2 or visit us online at www.ozanamhall.org

–ADVERTORIAL–

Page 11 25 QUEENS CHRONICLEE CHRONICLE, Thursday, • SENIOR March LIVING 18, 2021 GUIDE, Thursday, March 18, 2021

Perfect Gentle Hands Home Care

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QUEENS CHRONICLE • SENIOR QUEENS LIVING CHRONICLE, GUIDE, Thursday, March 18, 2021 Page 26 12

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Ozanam Hall of Queens Nursing Home 42-41 201 Street Bayside, NY 11361-2550 718.423.2000 Admissions 718.971.2620 www.ozanamhall.org 5-Star Rating from CMS 24-Hour Skilled Nursing Care Facility SHORT-TERM REHABILITATION • • • • • • • • • • • •

CALVARY HOSPITAL HOSPICE CENTER AT OZANAM HALL

LONG-TERM GERIATRIC CARE

Post-Surgical Care Cardiac Care Stroke Care Orthopedic Care Physical and Occupational Therapy Speech Language Therapy, Dysphagia Specialists Enteral Services Wound Care IV, PICC, Midline Private Rooms Available Individualized Meal Plans Wi-Fi Accessible

• • • • • • • • •

In-house Medical Clinics Enteral Services Wound Care IV, PICC, Midline Creative Activities Beauty Parlor/Barber Shop Pet Therapy Waited Dining Service Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Chapel Other Religious Services available • Pastoral Care • Palliative Care • Convenient to All Public Transportation

“We can never be too kind to an old person“ Mother Angeline Teresa, O.Carm., Foundress of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infi rm ©2019 M1P • OZAH-076133

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Please search for us on these websites: ©2021 M1P • MAGN-078862

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Profile for Queens Chronicle

Senior Living Guide Spring 2021 Edition - Queens Chronicle 03-18-21  

Senior Living Guide Spring 2021 Edition - Queens Chronicle 03-18-21

Senior Living Guide Spring 2021 Edition - Queens Chronicle 03-18-21  

Senior Living Guide Spring 2021 Edition - Queens Chronicle 03-18-21