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What do seniors want? A new survey seeks to find out

The Brooklyn Paper
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Survey says? We want to keep our seniors in Brownstone Brooklyn!

A Downtown organization is surveying seniors in six of the borough’s toniest neighborhoods to better understand the obstacles they face, learn more about the reasons behind old-timers’ exodus — and fight for the low-tech changes that could convince Brooklyn’s wisest to stay put.

Heights and Hills recently won a $25,000 planning grant from the state Office for the Aging aimed at creating the survey, which targets six contiguous neighborhoods: Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope.

The survey asks seniors to grade how important an array of items — personal home care, assisted living, home delivered medication, for example — are to promoting “maximized independen­ce.” Other questions gauge how “senior friendly” a neighborhood is — and how to make it more so, whether by installing more benches, and longer crossing lights, or improving sidewalks.

The survey is being dispensed to area seniors through a network of support organizations serving hundreds of seniors and is also available online.

Eventually, the group will lobby state lawmakers to fund simple changes to help keep the autumn-aged better equipped to cope with the physical challenges that accompany old age, which can force people to move to assisted living facilities or nursing homes.

“There are certain things that older people just can’t do,” Judy Willig, the group’s executive director. “Maybe our commercial districts need more benches? Or traffic lights that stay red longer, allowing seniors more time to cross the street.”

One idea that’s come out of the group’s outreach efforts could be for local merchants to post signs or stickers in their windows, alerting seniors that they are welcome to patronize a shop’s restrooms (see sidebar).

“That’s a fact of life, older people have to go to the bathroom more often,” Willig noted.

Brooklyn Heights resident Martha Medic, 86, said finding a bathroom in and around Downtown can indeed be a problem. “It’s awfully hard if you’re walking and there’s no place to go,” she said.

Another obstacle could be the grandeur of the homes in the study area.

Anne Prezeszty, a consultant for the group, said the housing stock of Brownstone Brooklyn presents unique challenges — particularly its glorious staircases, that suddenly become less charming and more challenging — as the years pass.

Knowing how seniors feel about better access to home health aides or “look-in” programs — as the survey inquires — can help devise solutions to keep them in those homes, she said.

And that’s critical, because by a wide margin, seniors prefer to age in their own homes, according to the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons which found that nationwide, a whopping 90 percent of people over the age of 45 prefer staying put.

Ultimately, organizers said, old and young will benefit from the survey.

“Longer traffic lights are also good for parents with strollers trying to get across the street,” Prezeszty said.

— with Tony Cella

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

INGRID from PARKSLOPE says:
Parkslope has not been friendly towards its seniors and handicapped. Senior programs,book clubs,ramps benches along the major ave's are sparce. Art classes,and cultural events are with toddlers and young couples in mind. How about the 65plus group don't feel accepted at all. Access for handicapped residents are poor at best! We are feeling rather invisible. Please keep the wise and young at heart in mind you will be here some day! Let our voices be heard.
Dec. 14, 2010, 12:01 am
Jack from PARKSLOPE says:
WE ARE FEELING after 38 years of residing in the slope like its time to leave. We have loved the area but the slope has not been kind. Yes, we would feel more welcome if services geared towards seniors were kept in mind. I agree with Ingrid that we have to have more friendly out looks towards seniors and benches,classes transport and general respect for senors in the slope. Longer lights for crossing streets,many benches,24hour delivery services for pharmacy products. assisted living. community cultural activities and friendship clubs to meet weekly so we do not feel isolated in a community we have lived in for nearly 40 years. Thanks, Jack F.
Dec. 14, 2010, 12:17 am
Judith from parkslope says:
I totally agree. with the above. I am 63 years of age. recently retired educator. I have no plans to leave my home but it is getting more difficult for me to navigate the neighborhood. Judith j.
Dec. 14, 2010, 12:26 am
CARL from parkslope says:
Yes I certainly agree with all of the posts.
Dec. 14, 2010, 12:34 am
ann from cobble hill says:
The cobble Hill movie theatre, pavilion make it impossible to climb up to any movies that are not showing on the first floor. They reply by saying "we were grandfathered in" We need elevators or escalators to view movies on the upper floors Shame on these theaters. Annie
Dec. 14, 2010, 12:43 am
Paul from cobble hill says:
Have not been to the movies in these theaters since I became disabled. Shame on you is right!
Dec. 14, 2010, 12:45 am
Lila from P Slp. says:
Some restrooms for the aging baby boomers would be welcome.
Dec. 14, 2010, 12:49 am
Ben from Carol Gardens says:
Like to have coffee and read@ local coffee houses. Younger people are so rude. when you see an older person think about giving up your seat you have been in there for hours tying up a seat for a person who really needs to sit down and have a cup of coffee and read for awhile. Think
Dec. 14, 2010, 12:56 am
JUSTINE from Pk. SLP. says:
Thank you all for your posts. Very happy that you are speaking up. Justine 67 years of age
Dec. 14, 2010, 12:59 am
Ray from Carroll Gardens says:
I have been a long time resident. I agree as well to all of the above. Something must be done to make our seniors more comfortable and less stressed by the above mentioned conditions. The handicapped residents need more accessible ramps,benches, longer traffic lights and kindness from the yups. Ray
Dec. 15, 2010, 11:21 pm
Lorraine C. from Parkslope says:
I am a 60 year old S.W.Yes,we need to pay more attention to social programs that will make older residents want to stay in Brownstone Brooklyn. We are isolated,down and generally feeling pushed out by the atmosphere that seems to have taken over!!!
Dec. 15, 2010, 11:28 pm
Linn from Cobblehill says:
This baby boomer has no plans on moving to fla, anytime soon or ever!!!! so lets give us space in our lovely neighborhood,so we can continue to live,grow and thrive .
Dec. 15, 2010, 11:40 pm
Renee from prospect pk.w. says:
Shame on the neighborhood movie theaters. Pavillion,and cobble hill. You make it unbearable to enjoy a movie because you do not have an elevator for the handicapped and elderly . Shame on you.........
Dec. 15, 2010, 11:46 pm

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