Stopping Stroke Before It Strikes
You probably know that a stroke can have life-altering consequences. You probably also know that with a stroke, time is of the essence. But do you know how to prevent a stroke from occurring?
If you’re like many Americans, the answer is no. According to a National Stroke Association/Gallup poll, 17 percent of U.S. adults older than 50 could not name a single stroke symptom.
"Lack of knowledge could prove fatal," says Jeffrey Berman, MD, Chief of Neurology at White Plains Hospital. "Knowing your risk factors and the signs of stroke can save your life or the life of someone you love. Although many risk factors, such as your age and family history, cannot be controlled, many can be reduced or eliminated."
Here are some things you can do to help prevent stroke:
•Eat food low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
•Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week.
•Control blood pressure.
•Keep diabetes under control.
•Treat heart disease with a healthful diet, exercise, and medication if necessary.
After prevention, the next best thing you can do to protect yourself is to become stroke smart by learning its signs. They include:
•Numbness, weakness, or paralysis of arm, leg or face—especially on one side of the body
•Blurred or decreased vision in one or both eyes
•Difficulty speaking or understanding simple statements
•Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, trouble walking
•A sudden, severe headache with no known cause
If you experience these symptoms or notice these signs in someone else, call 911 immediately.
How Therapy Can Help in the Golden Years
By ABBY ELLIN
Marvin Tolkin, 86, says his monthly therapy sessions have been “making the transition of living at this age in relation to my family very doable.” Hear from Mr. Tolkin and two more seniors here.
Marvin Tolkin was 83 when he decided that the unexamined life wasn’t worth living. Until then, it had never occurred to him that there might be emotional “issues” he wanted to explore with a counselor.
“I don’t think I ever needed therapy,” said Mr. Tolkin, a retired manufacturer of women’s undergarments who lives in Manhattan and Hewlett Harbor, N.Y.
Though he wasn’t clinically depressed, Mr. Tolkin did suffer from migraines and “struggled through a lot of things in my life” — the demise of a long-term business partnership, the sudden death of his first wife 18 years ago. He worried about his children and grandchildren, and his relationship with his current wife, Carole.
“When I hit my 80s I thought, ‘The hell with this.’ I don’t know how long I’m going to live, I want to make it easier,” said Mr. Tolkin, now 86. “Everybody needs help, and everybody makes mistakes. I needed to reach outside my own capabilities.”
So Mr. Tolkin began seeing Dr. Robert C. Abrams, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan. They meet once a month for 45 minutes, exploring the problems that were weighing on Mr. Tolkin. “Dr. Abrams is giving me a perspective that I didn’t think about,” he said. “It’s been making the transition of living at this age in relation to my family very doable and very livable.”
Mr. Tolkin is one of many seniors who are seeking psychological help late in life. Most never set foot near an analyst’s couch in their younger years. But now, as people are living longer, and the stigma of psychological counseling has diminished, they are recognizing that their golden years might be easier if they alleviate the problems they have been carrying around for decades. It also helps that Medicare pays for psychiatric assessments and therapy.
“We’ve been seeing more people in their 80s and older over the past five years, many who have never done therapy before,” said Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, a professor of research in the department of psychiatry at Stanford. “Usually, they’ve tried other resources like their church, or talked to family. They’re realizing that they’re living longer, and if you’ve got another 10 or 15 years, why be miserable if there’s something that can help you?”
Some of these older patients are clinically depressed. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that more than 6.5 million Americans over age 65 suffer from depression. But many are grappling with mental health issues unaddressed for decades, as well as contemporary concerns about new living arrangements, finances, chronic health problems, the loss of loved ones and their own mortality.
“It’s never too late, if someone has never dealt with issues,” said Judith Repetur, a clinical social worker in New York who works almost exclusively with older patients, many of whom are seeking help for the first time. “A combination of stresses late in life can bring up problems that weren’t resolved.”
That members of the Greatest Generation would feel comfortable talking to a therapist, or acknowledging psychological distress, is a significant change. Many grew up in an era when only “crazy” people sought psychiatric help. They would never admit to themselves — and certainly not others — that anything might be wrong.
“For people in their 80s and 90s now, depression was considered almost a moral weakness,” said Dr. Gallagher-Thompson. “Fifty years ago, when they were in their 20s and 30s, people were locked up and someone threw away the key. They had a terrible fear that if they said they were depressed, they were going to end up in an institution. So they learned to look good and cover their problems as best they could.”
But those attitudes have shifted over time, along with the medical community’s understanding of mental illness among seniors. In the past, the assumption was that if older people were acting strangely or having problems, it was probably dementia. But now, “the awareness of depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse as possible problems has grown,” said Bob G. Knight, a professor of gerontology and psychology at the University of Southern California, and the author of “Psychotherapy With Older Adults.”
A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that about half of all Americans ages 50 to 70 will be at high risk for alcohol and marijuana abuse by 2020, compared with less than 9 percent in 1999.
In years past, too, there was a sense among medical professionals that a patient often could not be helped after a certain age unless he had received treatment earlier in life. Freud noted that around age 50, “the elasticity of the mental process on which treatment depends is, as a rule, lacking,” adding, “Old people are no longer educable.” (Never mind that he continued working until he died at 83.)
“That’s been totally turned around by what we’ve learned about cognitive psychology and cognitive approach — changing the way you think about things, redirecting your emotions in more positive ways,” said Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist and professor of human development at Cornell, and author of “30 Lessons for Living.”
Treatment regimens can be difficult in this population. Antidepressants, for instance, can have unpleasant side effects and only add to the pile of pills many elderly patients take daily. Older patients may feel that they don’t have the time necessary to explore psychotherapy, or that it’s too late to change.
But many eagerly embrace talk therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral techniques that focus on altering thought patterns and behaviors affecting their quality of life now. Experts say that seniors generally have a higher satisfaction rate in therapy than younger people because they are usually more serious about it. Time is critical, and their goals usually are well defined.
“Older patients realize that time is limited and precious and not to be wasted,” said Dr. Abrams. “They tend to be serious about the discussion and less tolerant of wasted time. They make great patients.”
After her husband died two years ago, Miriam Zatinsky, a retired social worker who is now 87, moved into an independent living facility at Miami Jewish Health Systems. It was a difficult transition to make late in life.
“It was really strange to me, and I couldn’t seem to make any friends here,” Ms. Zatinsky said. “I really couldn’t find my way. I was having a terrible time.”
The medical director for mental health at the facility, Dr. Marc E. Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist and the author of “How We Age,” told her that her problems were not unusual for someone in her situation, and encouraged her to make some friends. He prescribed Xanax to help with anxiety, which she said she rarely takes, and he put her in touch with a social worker, Shyla Ford, whom Ms. Zatinsky saw once a week until Ms. Ford moved (Ms. Zatinsky now has a new social worker she talks to). They strategized on how she could reach out. And slowly, she did.
“Sitting at the table for dinner, you talk to people,” said Ms. Zatinsky, who has become president of her building.
Typically, 15 to 20 sessions of talk therapy are enough to help an older patient, unless he or she is struggling with a lifetime’s worth of significant problems. Still, even long-term issues can be overcome.
After a debilitating depression in which she spent three months unable to get out of bed, Judita Grosz, 69, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., decided to see Dr. Agronin, who prescribed medication. (She also tried group therapy but didn’t like it.) He also practiced some cognitive behavioral techniques with her — for instance, requiring her to get dressed every day for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Eventually, she began to feel better. “I learned to adjust my thinking, and I don’t get as anxious as I used to,” said Ms. Grosz, who has since begun making and selling jewelry. “I found out at this age that I am artistic and creative and innovative and smart. I just woke up to the fact that I have a mind of my own. Talk about a late bloomer.”
Dr. Agronin, who still meets with Ms. Grosz monthly, said, “You might not be able to gain a magical insight and wrap up their entire life in therapy, but you might be able to accomplish one or two small but meaningful goals.”
Sometimes, what older patients really need is help putting a lifetime in perspective.
“Things can be seen differently from the perspective of old age that relieve some guilt and challenge assumptions that you’ve had for decades,” Dr. Abrams said. “ ‘Maybe it wasn’t too terrible after all; maybe I shouldn’t blame myself.’ Maybe some of your worst mistakes weren’t so egregious, and maybe there were unavoidable circumstances you couldn’t control.”
Mr. Tolkin still stops by Dr. Abrams’s office for a monthly checkup.
“Everybody has a certain amount of heartache in life — it’s how you handle the heartache that is the essential core of your life,” Mr. Tolkin said. “I found that my attitude was important, and I had to reinforce positive things all the time.”
He said he wishes he had tried therapy years ago. But he adds: “I can’t go back. I can only go forward.”
- Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company
New Arts Program Offered by Bristal in White Plains
The Bristal at White Plains assisted living community has launched a unique arts learning program for older adults that provides residents of The Bristal and the community at large with the opportunity to learn creatively together.
Created under the auspices of Lifetime Arts and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Creative Aging Public Libraries Project serves to bring local libraries and professional teaching artists together to create free, high quality arts learning programs for older adults.
The Bristal has formed a partnership with the Westchester Library System by providing a $7,500 grant to implement the pilot arts program at the White Plains Public Library. The launch of the program was announced at a reception held February 26 at The Bristal at White Plains.
The program, which consists of two eight-week sessions, includes workshops in music, literature, performing and visual arts. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn a skill taught by a professional teaching artist and then share their success and receive recognition at an artist reception.
While residents of The Bristal will have priority registration, programs will be open to White Plains area seniors as well. Programs will be held at The Bristal at White Plains and the White Plains Public Library. The first session will begin in the spring. For more information on registering for this free program, please call (914) 681-1800.
“We are delighted to be partnering with the Westchester Library System and the White Plains Public Library to bring this exciting program to residents of The Bristal and the local community. The innovative programs developed by Lifetime Time Arts are designed to promote social engagement and artistic enrichment for older adults,” said Ms. Yubas.
Located at 305 North Street in White Plains, The Bristal at White Plains is a new assisted living community which offers the look and feel of a luxury hotel while offering enhanced assisted living. For more information about The Bristal at White Plains visit www.thebristal.com or call 914-681-1800.
Mt. Sinai Seeks Elderly Volunteers For Research Project
The Family Studies Research Center at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine is seeking volunteers to participate in a research study on healthy thinking in aging. The study will examine the use of computers and the Internet in individuals age 80 and older, and compare the effects of a computerized cognitive training program with a computerized games program. It will help Mt. Sinai learn more about how these cognitive training programs affect cognitive functioning. For more details on the study requirements and to assess whether you might fit the bill, click here.
Spring Cleaning a Senior's Home: 5 Tips to Get It Done
Spring cleaning is such a refreshing annual tradition. A brightened, fresh clean home makes all the hard work worth it. But if your senior loved one hasn't been able to keep up with regular housekeeping chores, you may be facing a daunting task. Where to begin? Start with this list from Home Instead Senior Care.
WJCS to present at Westchester Mall Walkers Program
Judy Fink,director of geriatric services at WJCS, will be speaking at the Westchester Mall on March 8 as part of the Mall Walkers Program.Judy will discuss resources available to seniors and caregivers in Westchester County.
Chronic Disease Self-Management Program
The Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP) will advise participants how to "Put Life Back in Your Life" in a workshop being held February 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM at the J. H. Community Center, 44 Main Street, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. The session is open to adults 55 years of age or older who have ongoing health conditions. The program teaches skills needed to manage chronic conditions and maintain or increase life's activities. It is co-sponsored by WJCS, Greenburgh/West Central Livable Communities, Hastings Recreation Dept. and Hastings Senior Council. For more information on the February 28 workshop, click here.
Two Ways to Stay Mentally Sharp
Two ways to stay mentally sharp
Regular physical activity helps keep your heart, lungs, and muscles in shape and can stave off the effects of aging. In much the same way, exercising your brain can help keep your mind sharp and your memory intact. Here are two ways to activate your brain.
Keep busy and engaged
The MacArthur Foundation Study on Successful Aging, a long-term study of aging in America, found that education level was the strongest predictor of mental capacity as people aged. The more education, the more likely an individual was to maintain his or her memory and thinking skills. Other research has shown that people who held jobs that involved complex work, such as speaking to, instructing, or negotiating with others, had a lower risk of memory loss (dementia) than people whose jobs were less intellectually demanding.
It probably isn’t the years of formal education or the type of occupation that benefits memory. Instead, these are likely stand-ins for a lifelong habit of learning and engaging in mentally challenging activities.
Intellectual enrichment and learning stimulate the brain to make more connections. The more connections, the more resilient the brain. That’s how a lifelong habit of learning and engaging in mentally challenging activities—like learning a new language or craft—can help keep the brain in shape.
Establishing and maintaining close ties with others is another way to maintain mental skills and memory. There are several ways that social engagement may do this. Social interaction and mentally engaging activities often go hand in hand (think volunteering or tutoring school kids). Social relationships can also provide support during stressful times, reducing the damaging effects that stress can have on the brain.
Social support can come from relationships with family members, friends, relatives, or caregivers, as well as from a religious community or other organized group.
Meaningful, socially engaging activities may prove especially helpful. In a study conducted with the Baltimore Experience Corps, volunteers were assigned to either a waitlist (control group) or a group that helped elementary school children during class and library time. Early results suggested that participants who remained engaged in the program for many months improved their executive function and memory.
For more on boosting your memory and diagnosing memory problems, buy Improving Memory: Understanding age-related memory loss, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Harvard Medical School offers special reports on over 50 health topics. Visit our website at http://www.health.harvard.edu to find reports of interest to you and your family.
Copyright © 2013 by Harvard University.
Project Lifesaver Special Enrollment Day 2013
During the week of February 11, the ElderServe Safe Center for Seniors In conjunction with Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services and International Project Lifesaver are holding Project Lifesaver Awareness Week. In Yorktown and Somers, presentations will be given to inform caregivers about options available to provide them an added sense of security in caring for loved ones who might wander away. Participants with caregivers in attendance will hear about safety and independence and will receive a Project Lifesaver GPS bracelet that tracks dementia or Alzheimer’s patients.
Please click here for more information on enrollment. To register or for caregivers who cannot attend the sessions, contact Crystal Johnson at Elderserve at 914-365-1983 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keeping Your Heart Healthy
The following are some activities sponsored by White Plains Hospital in honor of February as Heart Health Month:
February 1: 10am-2pm
Go Red Health Fair and Expo
CENTENNIAL ROOM AT WHITE PLAINS HOSPITAL
Come to White Plains Hospital’s Go Red Health Fair & Expo for free blood pressure screenings, valuable heart healthy education from nurses, pharmacists and nutritionists; also visit our “kissing booth”, donate $10 and get a red hair extension to help spread awareness of heart disease.
February 3: 1pm-3pm
Go Red Community Day
BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH, 1 FISHER CT, WHITE PLAINS
Help spread awareness of heart disease, stop by our Go Red Community Day for free blood pressure screenings and pick up valuable “beyond the headlines” heart health information and giveaways.
February 5: 5:30pm
Heart Club Lecture Series: Women and Heart Disease
E.D. CONFERENCE ROOM AT WHITE PLAINS HOSPITAL
Heart disease is the leading killer of women. Learn how to keep heart healthy, find out about risk factors and symptoms. The Heart Club is a monthly wellness workshop that provides educational lectures for heart patients, families and friends. For more information call 914-681-1037.
February 5: 4:30-5:30pm
Diabetes Wellness Workshop: Solving the Diet Riddle
DIABETES EDUCATION CENTER AT WHITE PLAINS HOSPITAL
Call 914-681-1228 for more information.
Updates on Flu Shots & ParaTransit
Some local items of interest, particularly to seniors in Westchester:
-- A test program that offers cabs to ParaTransit riders has become available in Peekskill and there are plans to expand it to New Rochelle. To learn more, click here.
-- Westchester County Department of Health is offering a free flu-vaccine clinic for anyone over age 9 on Thursday, January 24 at the County Center. For details, click here.
Chronic Disease Management Program
Living Well: Chronic Disease Management Program
for adults age 55+ who have an ongoing health condition
Teaches the skills needed to manage chronic conditions and to maintain or increase life’s activities.
Tuesday, January 15
44 Main Street -- Hastings-on-Hudson, NY10706
To learn more, click here.
Don't be Felled by the Flu
The bad news is that this year's flu outbreak is one of the worst in 10 years. The good news is that it’s not too late to get a flu shot and take some precautions you can take to guard against getting the flu:
-- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Lack a tissue? Cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
-- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap is unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
-- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Adults should be more aware of germs on door handles, public restrooms and grocery cart handles. Small children can get germs from toys, books and electronic devices that are shared.
-- Avoid close contact with sick people. But if a friend or neighbor is sick, offer to run a few errands for that person.
-- If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
To keep your immune system healthy:
- get enough sleep
- eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
- exercise regularly
- drink at least eight glasses of water a day
- keep stress levels to a minimum.
Upcoming Events at White Plains Hospital
White PlainsHospital is sponsoring several upcoming informational events:
January 8 -- 5:30 PM
Heart Club: Heart Healing Humor! Speaker: Jessica Forman R-PA
ED CONFERENCE ROOM AT WHITE PLAINS HOSPITAL
The Heart Club is a support group that provides educational lectures for heart patients, families and friends. Free blood pressure screenings are available upon request after each meeting. Call 914-681-1037.
January 8 -- 4:30-5:30 PM
Diabetes Wellness Workshop: Your medications and how they work
DIABETES EDUCATION CENTER AT WHITE PLAINS HOSPITAL
Call 914-681-1228 for more information
January 8 -- 6:00 PM
Survivorship Program Kickoff with Dr. Sunny Mitchell & Dr. Randy Stevens
DICKSTEIN CANCER TREATMENT CENTER, 3RD FLOOR CONFERENCE ROOM
Survivorship begins at the day of diagnosis. Learn about our support service areas, including: Clinical Navigator, Nutritionist, Physical Therapist, Yoga/Meditation Instructor, Social Worker, Nursing Manager, Genetics Counselor, The American Cancer Society, Gilda’s Club & others. Dinner will be served. Seating is limited. Call to register 914-681-2703.
January 10 -- 6:00 PM
Bariatric Surgery: SupportWorkshop
White PlainsHospital is proud to host a supervised support group for our Bariatric Surgery patients. Along with nutritional and exercise counseling after surgery, it is suggested that patients have an outside support system and we invite you to be a part of our monthly support workshop. For more information please call 914-681-1192.
January 17 -- 5:00 PM
Get Up. Stand Up. Stay Up: Balance Basics 101
WHITE PLAINSRECREATION & PARKSCOMMUNITY CENTER, 65 MITCHELL PL
Falls are the leading cause of serious injury for people over 60. Join Physical Therapist Beth Rose as she talks about balance basics. Seating is limited. Register at 914-681-1192.
January 30 -- 6:00 PM
Weight Loss Surgery: Is it Right for you? With Dr. Waheeda Mithani
WHITE PLAINS HOSPITAL CENTENNIAL ROOM
Stop by this free weight loss surgery educational seminar to hear the facts, ask questions and to help determine if bariatric surgery is an appropriate option for you. Pre-registration is required. Call 914-681-1192.
Free Medicare Basics Workshops Scheduled
The Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) is presenting “Medicare Basics” workshops on January 8, February 7 and March 8 from 10 AM – 12 noon at the County Office Building (8th floor conference room) 9 S. First Avenue, Mount Vernon. For details, click here.
Seniors Especially Susceptible to Hypothermia
Now that winter is officially here, seniors should turn their attention to protecting themselves against the elements.
Hypothermia can be a danger for senior adults whose bodies become less efficient at regulating heat. The risk also increases for seniors who have underactive thyroids, suffer from diabetes or heart disease, or take certain medications such as those used to treat anxiety, depression or nausea, and even some over-the-counter cold remedies.
Primary to preventing hypothermia is keeping the home warm -- at least 68 to 70 degrees -- and not set at a low temperature to reduce heating costs. Even homes with temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees can cause mild hypothermia, especially in the elderly.
It’s also important to:
-- maintain humidity in the home
-- make sure your neck, head and hands are covered when outdoors in cold weather
-- drink plenty of fluids
-- avoid alcohol and nicotine and follow a healthy diet
-- wear several layers of clothes rather than a single, thick layer.
WJCS Providing 'Hope' to Sandy Victims
Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) has been selected to deliver Project Hope services in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Peekskill and southern Westchester for those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. WJCS Project Hope staff members are available to assist individuals, families, community groups, businesses and service organizations with crisis counseling at no charge. For more information, click here.
Deadline Nearing To Take Economic Security Survey
Westchester County residents age 60+ are reminded that the deadline is approaching for taking the anonymous Elder Economic Security Standard Index Survey to determine whether their income covers their basic needs of food, transportation, healthcare insurance and housing. If you have Internet access, you can complete the survey at www.westchestergov.com/seniors. If you do not have Internet access or need assistance completing the survey, contact Colette Phipps at 914-813-6441 or email@example.com to receive a survey by mail. The deadline is Dec. 31.
Click here for more info.
New Senior Living Facility Opens in White Plains
The Bristal, an assisted living facility offering 116 residences to people 65 and older, has opened at the former site of St. Agnes Hospital on North St. in White Plains.The facility features everything from a movie theatre to a putting green and offers a new approach to senior living. To find out more, click here.
Caring for Older Loved Ones from a Distance
Caring for an elderly loved one can be challenging and that challenge can be further complicated if you don’t live in the same city, state or country. We are a mobile society and often find ourselves establishing homes and lives in places that are miles away from our parents. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t ensure that they safe and secure even from a distance. As a Geriatric Care Manager I work with many clients who live far from their loved ones. For them, I can be their eyes, ears and extra pair pf helping hands.
Not too long ago I began helping an older local woman whose son lives overseas. To read about the various procedures we put in place to manage her care and ensure her safety, click here.
Local Events of Interest to Seniors
There are several upcoming events of interest to seniors in Westchester:
The executive director of the Burke Medical Research Institute, will be sharing his expertise on the aging brain and how to keep it healthy during a free panel discussion on Dec. 1 at the Little Theatre at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. For details, click here.
The County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services is presenting “Keys to Safe Driving, a series of free programs during Older Driver Safety Week from Dec. 3 to Dec. 7. To find out more, click here.
Phelps Memorial Hospital Center's Healthy Life series continues to offer the community a wide range of programs on health-related subjects as well as numerous health screenings and support groups. For more info, click here.
Food Stamp Beneifts Available for Those Affected by Sandy
COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR DISASTER FOOD STAMP BENEFITS FOR THOSE HIT HARD BY SANDY
Westchester County will begin taking applications for Disaster SNAP benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps) from low-income residents who have been severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. For details, click here.
Medicare Enrollmenet Extended for those Affected by Sandy
The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that options are available for Medicare beneficiaries who want to change their Medicare health plan and Part D coverage for prescription drugs for 2013 but cannot meet the Dec. 7 enrollment deadline because of Hurricane Sandy. Click here for details.
Storm Recovery Center Opens in White Plains
Westchester County Center
198 Central Ave, White Plains, NY
A multi-purpose Hurricane Recovery Center is open at the Westchester County Center (198 Central Avenue -- White Plains, NY10606) offering updated info related to the storm. Open from 8 AM - 8 PM seven days a week, the Center provides information to residents who experienced hurricane losses. Reps from the following entities are at the center to respond to your questions....
• Con Edison to answer customer questions about outages and restorations
• FEMA to help individuals, households apply for financial aid for losses and damages caused by the storm
• The Small Business Administration, which will help businesses apply for low-interest loans for storm-related damages
• A variety of social services agencies to provide residents with recovery assistance
• The Department of Health, which will be giving free tetanus shots to anyone involved with cleanup, at the County Center Friday, Saturday and Sunday and at other locations.
Residents and non-profits should register with FEMA at 800-621-3362 or www.disasterassistance.gov before coming to the disaster center. The TTY number is 800-462-7585.
People applying for assistance at the Center should bring:
• Social Security number (including your spouse’s if applicable);
• Private insurance information, if available;
• Address and zip code of the damaged property;
• Directions to the damaged home or property;
• Daytime telephone number, and
• An address where you can receive mail.
For directions to the County Center, click here.
Warm Advice about Cold Weather
With cold, wintry temperatures expected, the County Department of Health reminds residents to take precautions against hypothermia and to take care when using alternate heating sources.
“Low temperatures can be life-threatening, especially for seniors, infants and people who are at increased risk for hypothermia,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler. “Accidental hypothermia can occur even with temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees, so I urge residents who have power, especially those households with seniors or infants, to keep thermostats set at no less than 68 degrees during the daytime.”
Seniors and infants less than one year should never sleep in a cold room and should be dressed in warm clothing to prevent the loss of body heat. If a safe temperature cannot be maintained inside your home, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.
Generators can be dangerous if not used properly. Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes! Never use a generator inside your house or in partly enclosed areas such as garages or basements, even if your windows are open. Generators should only be operated outside, away from open windows. Carbon monoxide in the generator's fumes can build up and cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can lead to death. Additionally, if you plan to cook on a barbeque grill or camp stove, remember these also produce carbon monoxide and are for outdoor use only.
Warning signs of hypothermia in adults include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech. Infants with hypothermia may appear sluggish, with very low energy and bright red, cold skin.
Frostbite is another concern and especially dangerous because it often happens with little warning. Numbness can occur so quickly that the individual, unaware of being frostbitten, may remain outside, increasing the chance of permanent damage. Older people, and those with diabetes, are especially vulnerable to frostbite because of impaired circulation.
To prevent frostbite and hypothermia:
- Dress warmly in windproof clothing.
- Go indoors when you begin to feel cold.
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing to trap body heat.
- Remember gloves, scarves and a hat that covers the ears.
If you think that someone is suffering from hypothermia or frostbite, call a medical provider immediately.
Take the following precautions when using alternate heating sources in their homes:
- Use fireplaces, wood stoves or other combustion hearters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using alternate heating sources like space heaters and wood burning stoves.
- Ensure adequate ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
- Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use - don’t substitute.
- Do not place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.
- Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
- Never leave children or pets unattended near a space heater, fireplace or wood burning stove.
For more information on cold weather safety, contact the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000 or go to www.westchestergov.com/health.
Forshelter availability, contact your local municipality. Libraries, municipal buildings and malls are also good places to warm up. You can get more info at www.westchestergov.com.
Food Saefety Info
FOOD SAFETY ADVICE FOR RESIDENTS AS THEY REGAIN POWER
Clear and clean out refrigerators before you restock
The Westchester County Health Department wants residents to feed their families and themselves safely as power is restored to more homes in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
If your home has been without power, discard any perishable food that has been above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours or more. In most cases, this means you should empty out, clean and sanitize your refrigerator and freezer to prevent bacteria from growing.
“Throw away meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, mayonnaise, leftovers and any condiments that require refrigeration,” said Sherlita Amler, MD, Commissioner of Health. “Remember to clear out the thawed-out food in your freezer as well. This may be costly and one more item on a long to-do list, but it’s vital for your family’s health and safety.’’
- Throw away any food (including packaged food) that was touched by flood water. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Inspect canned food and throw away any food in damaged cans.
- Frozen foods that thawed should be cooked and consumed prior to reaching 41 degrees for more than 4 hours, or be discarded.
In Westchester, public water supplies are safe. Residents who have been away from home should run their faucets for a minute or two to avoid using water that has been sitting in the pipes for several days.
Residents with private wells whose properties were flooded should either use bottled water or boil their water for a minute before drinking, brushing teeth or cooking with it as a precaution, since sewage and other harmful contaminants can be washed into private wells by storm waters. Residents should have their water tested if it is evident that their well cap was submerged. Dishwashers can be used as usual and well water can be used without boiling to wash clothes.
Residents should contact a well professional for help in dealing with the impacts of flood water on their water quality and well system. Instructions on how to disinfect wells, storage tanks and house piping can be found on www.westchestergov.com/health.
The Health Department also cautions those who handle the cleanup of flood waters and mud that both may contain sewage and/or other contaminants. Heavy work gloves, long sleeved shirts, pants and boots should be worn during cleanup to avoid direct contact with the skin. Anyone involved with cleanup who gets a cut or puncture wound should contact their physician or visit an emergency room to determine whether a Tetanus vaccine or booster is needed.
Dealing with Hurricane Sandy's Aftermath
As we all struggle to regain our footing in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, here is some recent news and contact information that you may want to keep handy:
- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that WestchesterCounty has been approved for both federal disaster assistance funding and additional funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. This means that State, local governments and certain private, non-profit organizations are now eligible for federal reimbursement for road systems, water control facilities, public buildings and equipment, public utilities, and parks and recreation.
- Individuals with uninsured losses can seek financial help from FEMA. Call 800-621-3362 or visit www.disasterassistance.gov.
- The Small Business Administration is ready to assist those affected by the storm as well. For information about disaster loans, grants and other financial assistance, visit www.sba.gov.
- Additionally, New York State has received $27,792,296 in federal Disaster National Emergency Grant (NEG) funds to hire workers who lost their jobs as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy in Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties to help clean up impacted communities.
Workers interested in this program should call 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365). The New York State Department of Labor will work with local officials to recruit and hire workers. Information will also be available at local DisasterRecoveryCenters and One-StopCareerCenters. A list of One-Stop Career Centers can be found on the State Department of Labor’s website at http://www.labor.ny.gov/workforcenypartners/osview.asp.
- New York State has received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to replace food lost by recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps, in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. Under this grant, current recipients of SNAP will be automatically issued 50 percent of monthly benefits to replace food lost as a result of the storm starting next week. The Governor also announced that SNAP recipients in these areas will be able to purchase hot and prepared foods with their benefits. New YorkState will be able to issue up to $65 million in replacement benefits.
A complete list of eligible zip codes for this program can be found at otda.ny.gov/news/SNAP-replacements.pdf. Other current SNAP recipient households that have lost food purchased with SNAP benefits due to Hurricane Sandy are also entitled to replacement benefits. The loss must be reported by Wednesday, November 28, 2012, and the household must return a signed and completed form, found at otda.ny.gov/programs/applications/2291.pdf, by close of business on Monday, December 10, 2012. The form is also available at local department of social services offices. To find your local department of social services, visit otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/dss.asp, or call 1-800-342-3009.
- Households that do not currently receive SNAP assistance can check their eligibility quickly and easily, and apply online, by visiting myBenefits.ny.gov.
Local Libraries Offer Senior Benefits Info
The need for information about Medicare and related benefits continues to grow and right now - through December 7 - is the Medicare open enrollment period. Fortunately, several public libraries in Westchester offer free, one-to-one counseling to help seniors understand and apply for needed benefits and assistance through Senior Benefits Information Centers. Staffed by trained volunteers who bring personal experience and compassion to every encounter, these Centers provide seniors with assistance in understanding and applying for Medicare, heating assistance, tax relief and much more. Senior Benefits Information Centers operate year round, saving residents time and money, and allowing them to stay healthy, protected, and connected.
To find out more, click here.
Is Facebook for You?
More and more seniors are turning to social media, especially Facebook, to communicate. They find it's a great way to keep in touch with their children and grandchildren, particuarly if they don't live nearby. Some senior adults are proficient in its use. Others are just feeling their way. Many seniors are hesitant to try. Understandably, there is a learning curve. If you are already a Facebook user or thinking about becoming one, here’s an article that may be of interest. Click here.
Local Candidate Forum Schdeuled
With Election Day just around the corner, you may still be undecided about some o the local races. If you are, you can learn more at a Candidates Forum at the Osborn Retirement Community on Wednesday, October 31st at 7:00 PM. For more details, click here.
Do You Have Unclaimed Funds??
You cn find out is you have uncliamed funds atthe following events:
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Westchester COunty Center (198 Central Avenue- White Plains)
12:00 noon - 2:00 PM
White Plains Senior Center (65 Mitchell Place)