Service of Don’t Hold Your Breath

May 28th, 2024

Categories: Bicycles, Charity, Elder Care, Elderly, Insurance, New York City, Not for Profits

I attended a Master Plan for the Aging town hall meeting, a New York State initiative. The most enlightening information came from the audience. Otherwise after a far too long list of acknowledgements and thanks—almost 20 minutes’ worth–we heard about the priorities and committees and subcommittees addressing the issues before attendees were invited to speak.

By 2030, 1 in 4 New York residents will be 60 or over. Right now, there are 4.6 million in this demographic.

We heard about a 2022 executive order to:

  • Create a blueprint of strategies
  • Address challenges related to communication
  • Coordinate all State policy and programs

It has taken two years to listen to those in the trenches–or their prospective clients–so I don’t have great hope for much implementation anytime soon. I kept thinking of a committee gathered for an hour to plan the menu for a gala dinner leaving the meeting, inflated with pride, with a fancy PowerPoint presentation and this menu, bereft of detail: a starter, main course, salad and dessert.

The citizen gatherings across the state were to shed light on the public’s concerns. The audience seemed to be made up of seniors, volunteers and directors or employees of the not for profits that address the concerns of the aging. Many of the New Yorkers who spoke asked that their needs be met immediately, not tucked into some subcommittee’s agenda never to be heard from again.

The State is looking into transportation and housing; healthcare services as people age; family caregivers and remaining in community to name some of the master plan’s “bold agenda.”

In no special order, here were just some of the public’s concerns expressed last week.

Safety came up due to the unregulated, life-threatening motorized bikes that fly through the city in every which way, even on sidewalks, knocking over people of all ages. Interpreting the safety issue in another way, one woman said she’s afraid to go outside because unsavory neighbors make her community so dangerous.

Loneliness. One man who lives in Stuyvesant Town, the private development on 80 acres with 11,250 apartments, described what a coalition of older residents asked the owner to do. Two benches now have plaques that declare that anyone sitting on them would welcome a chat. Another speaker suggested the plan explore initiatives that put together young and old New Yorkers.

Nursing homes. We learned that residents in such homes are treated worse than prisoners, and, for example, are not allowed to leave for an outing, for insurance reasons. Another person said this wasn’t true where she worked.

Erratic bus schedules. A 73-year-old described that after waiting 25 minutes on Lexington Avenue to get to the 1:00 pm town hall, she walked to the meeting leaving behind a woman with a cane who did not have this option.

Lack of or shrinking funding to support crucial volunteer services that nevertheless need some paid administrators and/or directors. One provides weekly speech therapy, free, to stroke victims whose health insurance runs out far too soon said a speech therapy volunteer.

We were given an email address to send other ideas— I did, asking that the state provide professional grant writers for diminutive organizations like the speech therapists to tap into the money provided by foundations and government initiatives that support the elderly. [I didn’t think of it in time to speak up.]

However, I did ask that the master plan put the squeeze on federally funded Medicare insurance decision makers asking for full or partial coverage of eyeglasses and hearing aids for those 60+. An attendee sidled up to me thanking me and admitting that she’d just paid a fortune for hearing aids.

If you would like to chime in to the Master Plan powers that be in New York, again here is the email address to send concerns for yourself or loved ones: Regardless of where you live, about what else should a state concern itself to make it possible for aging citizens to live a safe and comfortable life hopefully at home.

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4 Responses to “Service of Don’t Hold Your Breath”

  1. ASK Said:

    Given the way government works, inflation, and lack of bipartisanship, I don’t expect those clamoring that their needs be met immediately will enjoy the fruits of any programs. As the boomer generation (of which I am a member) reaches or has reached, in some cases, their golden years, I expect we’ll hear more of such complaints. (Seriously how is any government meant to remedy loneliness? That gentleman may have complained at the meeting, but he was right to complain to the management of his apartment complex.)

    With the glacial pace of committees and sub-committees, and constant moaning about lack of adequate funding, I am not optimistic about this overall master plan. How can anyone be? Medicare is cutting reimbursements, leaving many doctors to pull out of the system, and not just in New York. Finding a GP willing to accept new patients has led to the leader of our alumnae film group to reach out to all of us for referrals. Also, Medicare fraud runs into multimillions.

    I will most likely be criticized for my opinion, but I do consider myself to be a realist.

  2. Lucrezia Said:

    There was a time when children were taught to respect the elderly. I remember being told that the Chinese, Italians and Jews were expert in that field. Doubtless this is an unfair evaluation of other cultures! Now, however, disrespect of the elderly and others with unpopular limitations rules — Therefore laws are needed. Reaching old age used to be an honor — but now it’s regarded by many s a curse! Some meanies hide their children from loving grandparents, as if they may carry a dreadful disease. Grandma & Grandpa must go to court to get visitation rights! I could go on, but I suspect that the readership here knows the script. One day the public may get to know better. It’s a pleasant thought, but don’t hold your breath!

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I so wish I could criticize and find fault with your analysis. I agree 100 percent.

    One of the issues that drives me nuts is how poorly Medicare covers its insured and how royally Medicaid patients are treated for free. Even it out a little is my request.

    As for Medicare fraud, my guess is that if folks on Medicaid who don’t belong were moved into Medicare and paid for the insurance and if the Medicare scams were caught, punished and stopped as well, there would be money to care for older people properly and for doctors to be paid as they should.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I am saddened to hear that some don’t let their children know their grandparents. Fortunately for my friends they have funny–sometimes hilarious–stories to tell about their grandchildren. They see them as often as possible and practical.

    But you point to something as horrifying–that the people who would do such a thing might be some of those in charge of policies and programs that impact older citizens, such as Medicare. Some may have such deep pockets that they don’t need to rely on Social Security, etc. Others are shortsighted and can’t imagine a time they will be older with a tad less stamina and body parts that need attention. Their thought is “why should I have to pay for the old fogies?” God help them when they grow old!

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