Teaneck High School senior Hajra Mateen learned an important lesson in empathy this summer, one that all people caring for older adults need to follow.
Just because someone has reached an advanced age doesn’t mean he or she has the same needs or desires as other people that age, whether it be food, entertainment or a style of living.
“Everyone is different and wants to be treated differently and their wishes should be respected,” Hajra said, reflecting back on the four weeks she spent this summer as an intern in an Age-Friendly Teaneck-sponsored Geriatric Career Exploration Program.
Hajra and three other Teaneck High School students interacted with the older residents of Bright Side Manor, an assisted living residence. They learned about the role of social workers in older adults’ lives by shadowing chief executive officer Jessica Fleischer and other staff at Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Northern New Jersey. And they spent time with the Thorn Ellerbe, operator of Homewatch Caregivers, who taught them about the complexity of providing home-care to the growing number of older adults seeking to age in place.
The interns were exposed to almost every type of profession in the field of geriatrics, through Lunch&Learn sessions with an elder law attorney, a pharmacist and a physician specializing in geriatrics as well as extensive tours of Holy Name Medical Center, Care One nursing home and two of Teaneck’s independent living communities – Arbor Terrace and Five Star Premier Residences.
Alicia John, another Teaneck High senior, said she most appreciated the many conversations she got to have with older adults, which have made her curious to learn more about the life experiences of older members of her own family.
“I took a lesson from each and every one of them,” Alicia said. “In this internship you gain a greater appreciation for the elders in your life and in the world.”
Fellow senior Laura McDonald said one encounter at Care One nursing home taught her the importance of companionship, even for those who might seem to sick or frail to receive it. She was asked to read to an ailing resident who kept nodding off. Laura hesitated to disturb the woman but then was gratified when she saw the woman respond to her voice.
As for Sarah Ismail, a recent graduate who is starting her freshman year at Rutgers University as a biology major, the internship helped her define the path of her studies. Sarah has always envisioned herself as a nurse but many people had tried to talk her out of pursuing a nursing degree, suggesting the work would be less stimulating than other jobs in health care.
But the internship exposed her to the many varied roles that nurses play – from mental health care to managing trauma patients.
“Now I know there’s so much more to do in nursing than just changing bedpans,” Sarah said. “I’m so grateful that I got this opportunity.”
The internship program was developed by the Health and Social Engagement Task Force of Age-Friendly Teaneck, which is headed by Ellen Rand, a local author and expert on end-of-life care.
Rand helped plan many of the lectures and learning opportunities for the interns, including showing movies on age-related topics every Monday and then leading discussions. She said she was impressed by the “seriousness” of the interns and the questions they asked, and how they often related what they learned to experiences with their own grandparents and families.
The idea for the internship arose from the concerns of Age-Friendly Teaneck Project Director Elizabeth Davis, who, as a longtime social worker and administrator, has been surprised at how few young people recognize how gratifying a career in geriatrics can be.
“I think it reflects the ageism, the youth-oriented culture, that we live in,” Davis said.
The predicted future shortage in geriatric workers is so concerning that Age-Friendly Teaneck had many willing local partners who lent their time and expertise and opened their doors to the interns. In addition, a small family foundation awarded Age-Friendly Teaneck a grant to fund the internship program.
The hope is that the program can be used as a model in other communities.
“I think it’s important to interest young people in working with older adults but also to make them aware of all the opportunities,” Davis said. “So, I hope in some small way our internship program will help build a great workforce.”
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(Courtesy of the Jewish Link of New Jersey) American household demographics constantly change. With kids grown and moved out, many adults are considering remodeling to meet their future needs. This has inspired the idea of aging in place, meaning the desire to have a high quality of life in your home as you get older. In the United States, it's a desire shared by many.
According to the AARP, 87 percent of adults age 65 and older want to stay in their current home and community as they age. Furthermore, among people age 50 to 64, 71 percent of people want to age in place. The desire to age in place typically requires making thoughtful updates to a home to accommodate senior needs.
Multigenerational households are also changing for older family members. Sometimes it's necessary to have elderly relatives move in to your home for them to thrive. Adult children will opt to make remodeling updates so spaces are safe, comfortable and accessible for all. Whether you're remodeling for yourself or a family member, there are many things to consider. Making changes where it matters most will help transform the household into a secure space for aging adults.
Having all rooms on a single story is the ideal layout for senior living. That means the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen can be accessed without having to travel to different levels of the home. Keep in mind, open-concept designs can be beneficial for seniors, but if you are updating hallways, make sure they are at least 36 inches wide for easy maneuverability.
Adding a bathroom to facilitate single-story living might seem impossible if you don't have existing drainage. However, it is feasible and doesn't require costly demolition. There are systems available that allow you to add a complete bathroom where no drainage existed before, thanks to above-floor plumbing features like a macerating toilet and drain pumps.
Bathrooms are one of the most dangerous rooms in a home, particularly for those age 65 and older who are more prone to falls. When remodeling, add wall supports such as grab bars in the bath, shower and by the toilet. For showers, a fold-down seat and handheld showerhead can add comfort. A wall-hung sink adds space below and can make it easier to clean and move around. Avoid using rugs and instead install slip-resistant flooring.
Redesigning your home with a mother-in-law suite for aging relatives can be a nice way to provide them everything they need. It will also ensure that everyone has their desired privacy in the home. Again, don't let drainage limit your remodel plans. Add a modest kitchen setup that will pump wastewater away from a variety of sources, such as a kitchen sink, laundry sink and washing machine.
Ramps and Stairs
There may be spaces in a home where you can't avoid installing a ramp or stairs. The entryway is one such area. For stairways, install handrails on both sides and add contrast strips to prevent tripping and stumbling hazards. For ramps, the National Association of Home Builders recommends slopes no greater than 1-inch rise for each 12 inches in length, a 2-inch curb for safety and a 5-foot landing at the entrance. All ramps or stairs should have adequate lighting for easy visibility.
As vision decreases with age, lighting becomes a critical element throughout a home . Consider adding windows and skylights for plenty of natural light. Swap in brighter bulbs and add adjustable features that allow you to customize settings for frequently used spaces. Finally, add motion lights to hallways and bathroom for easy evening use. Hard-wired lights are preferred to plug-in options, but if you must have cords, make sure they are hidden or secured to the ground.
When aging in place matters, to you or your family members, these guidelines can help you remodel wisely. Smart updates will help you enjoy your home today and thrive in the future.
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Walking. It’s such an essential part of life that we have an endless supply of clichés about it.
We can walk a fine line, a tightrope, or a mile in someone else’s shoes. When we’re younger, so many things seem easy - a cakewalk, you might say. A walk in the park. A walk down the aisle. Even a walk on the wild side.
As we get older, walking the walk can get harder. That’s why we need to start talking the talk of “walkability.”
How walkable is the township of Teaneck? Age-Friendly Teaneck, the Township, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation will try to get a better measure of that on Oct. 9, when officials from each join together to host a “Senior Walkability Workshop.”
All are invited to participate and help point out the uneven sidewalks, troublesome crosswalks or rutted walking paths that can serve as barriers to an older adult with a disability – or to a young parent with a stroller.
The event is targeted to seniors, advocates, community decision-makers or anyone interested in making Teaneck’s streets and intersections safer for all users of all ages.
The event, to be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 pm in the Township Council Chambers, will begin with presentations on the benefits to walking and ways to identify and overcome barriers.
Comfortable shoes are recommended because there will be a short field trip, during which residents and township officials can observe barriers firsthand and share information about specific locations with challenges. That will be followed by brainstorming sessions on strategies to improve walkability.
The information yielded in the workshop will be used by the urban planning consultants at Civic Eye Collaborative to produce a comprehensive report on Teaneck’s walkability issues.
The event is free, but registration is required. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mission of Age-Friendly Teaneck is to ensure that Teaneck older adults can age-in-place with dignity and independence. Enhancing transportation options and improving pedestrian safety are two of the targeted goals, as they are key ingredients to making Teaneck a more livable community for all.
Age-Friendly Teaneck is proud to sponsor the Teaneck International Film Festival’s showing of an old classic with a new, or some might say, older twist.
My Annie Hall is a senior citizen version of the Woody Allen favorite. The directors, 29-year-old Matt Starr and 25-year-old Ellie Sachs, received Allen’s blessing on the remake, which stars seniors from Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in New York City.
“We are delighted to sponsor a film that celebrates the talents of senior citizens and demonstrates the value of a relationship between young and old.” said Jacqueline Kates, Project Coordinator of Age-Friendly Teaneck.
This half-hour feature will be shown at the 13th annual Teaneck International Film Festival on Sunday, November 4, followed by a panel discussion with the two directors, Starr and Sachs, and the lead actors, 94-year-old Harry B. Miller (in the role of Alvy Singer) and 73-year-old Shula Chernick (playing Annie).
Also joining in what is sure to be a lively discussion is New York Times writer John Leland, author of the bestselling book Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old.
In March, Leland wrote an article about the young filmmakers and its senior citizen stars, describing how Starr and Sachs felt they “had new friends and surrogate grandparents,” by the time the final scene was shot.
Leland’s article created a buzz, and multiple print and television media have since run features about this story of young and old working together and learning from each other.
TIFF Executive Director Jeremy Lentz says he is thrilled to have this movie on the 2018 program, and to welcome these guests to Teaneck.
For more information, visit the directors’ websites: www.matt- starr.com and www.elliesachs.com.
Tickets go on sale Oct. 1, and the time of the showing and details about venues and other films at TIFF 2018 will be posted on the website: teaneckfilmfestival.org.
The nest is empty and you’re looking for more ways to feel connected to your community. Age-Friendly Teaneck suggests volunteering for programs that help keep older adults healthy and socially engaged. Here is a list of programs and volunteer jobs to consider:
Help with exercise, entertainment and activities
Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Northern New Jersey
Friendly visits, meal delivery, and more
Helping Hands Food Pantry
Pantry staff/ office help/ donation pick-ups
201-837-9090(x 1825), email@example.com
Friendly visits/grocery shopping/ errands
Help with minor home repairs/chores
To learn about more opportunities, click here for the Bergen Volunteer Center!
A simple “Good Morning” can start someone’s day off right.
The Teaneck Fire Department believes it can also save a life – at least in the case of an elderly or disabled resident living on their own.
For more than 30 years, Teaneck firefighters have been placing “Good Morning Wake Up” calls to residents with health concerns. These well-being checks are made between 8 and 9 a.m. daily, 365 days a year. They are usually short, friendly conversations, but they can be very revealing. “Sometimes you can pick up that something is wrong from the sound of someone’s voice,” said Lt. David Barrett.
If a resident says they aren’t feeling well, or if they fail to answer the first call or a second follow-up one placed five minutes later, the dispatcher will send a unit to the house to check on them.
Over the years, the department’s responders have discovered residents who had fallen or were suffering a medical problem, and their intervention helped avert a more serious crisis.
Since its creation in 1985, participation has varied and there are currently only 21 Teaneck residents signed up, a very low number considering that senior citizens live alone in 11 percent of Teaneck households.
On one call Firefighter William Lynn made one recently, there was a bit of excitement – but the good kind. The woman told him he wouldn’t need to call for the remainder of the week because she was going out-of-town to visit her newly born first grandchild.
“Congratulations,” Lynn said. “Enjoy the trip.” Lynn said he’s gotten to know a bit about some of the people on the other end of the line, and a few like to do chat some mornings.
Those who enroll in the program receive a home safety inspection and are asked to provide emergency contact information and details about any medical conditions that emergency responders would need to know. After several years of enrollment, the residents are usually re-visited by Lt. Barrett or Captain Rich Burchell (the two program managers), who update their information if needed and also re-inspect their homes. The fire department also has used grant money to replace smoke detectors in homes that needed them.
If you think this service would help you or someone you know in Teaneck, please call the fire department at 201-837-2085 and ask to speak to Lt. Barrett or Capt. Burchell.
The waiting list for a 75-unit subsidized senior apartment building called The Glenwood at Leonia will be accepting new names for the first time in more than a decade.
There are currently no available units in the building, but the Leonia Retirement Housing Corporation typically sees about four apartments turn over each year. At present, there are only a few names left on the building’s waiting list, which was last opened for new applications in 2007.
The corporation will add 100 new names to the bottom of the existing list by conducting an application lottery.
To be eligible, at least one member of the household must be at least 62 years old at the time of application, with incomes of no more than $51,550 for a single person and no more than $58,900 for two people. Rents are income-based.
Applications are available to be picked up during a four-day period at the offices of the Leonia Retirement Housing Corp.
Tuesday, July 10 through Friday, July 13
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
270 Glenwood Ave.
Completed applications must be returned by July 30, after which a lottery will be held to determine the 100 names to be placed on the list. All applicants will be informed in writing about whether they secured a spot.
Anyone with additional questions may call the Leonia Retirement Housing Corp. at 201-947-9779.
Age-Friendly Teaneck will continue to pass along information about affordable senior housing opportunities as we learn of them.
additional resources that will come from the alliance with the AARP and the more than 260 communities around the country that have also joined. The township and Age-Friendly Teaneck initiative have worked together on a number of efforts, from pledging to make streets more pedestrian-friendly to disseminating a resource guide and promoting key services to older adults.
The mayor said that he and the rest of the Township Council are committed to addressing challenges faced by older adults and would welcome any suggestions on how to assist elderly residents who don’t have families nearby or other needed support.
“As mayor, I have seen that even something like getting your snow shoveled becomes a big deal for older residents,” Hameeduddin said.
Like most American suburbs, Teaneck is a town whose homes, streets and public spaces were designed primarily with an eye toward the families with young children who moved here in droves in the 1950s and 60s. And like most American suburbs, Teaneck is seeing its population age rapidly, with nearly 17 percent of the township’s 40,000 residents now over 65.
and experience, bringing a wide range of perspectives to their communal efforts to make Teaneck an easier place to grow old.
The number of communities in the AARP network has doubled in the past year, said state AARP Director Stephanie Hunsinger, before presenting the mayor with a certificate commemorating Teaneck’s membership in the network.
In addition to gaining access to aging experts and other professional resources, participating communities can share ideas and strategies, Hunsinger said. “They can talk about what worked and best practices, and also about what didn’t work.”
AARP surveys show that vast percentages of older adults would prefer to remain living in their communities as they age.
“People want to stay where they’ve raised their families,” Hunsinger said.
Teaneck joins Princeton and Montclair as the only New Jersey communities in this nationwide network. The AARP network was launched in April 2012 and operates under the auspices of the World Health Organization's Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program.
Launched in early 2016 with funding and organizational support from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, Age-Friendly Teaneck has already been working in partnership with other local communities with similar organizations.
Teaneck’s entry into the AARP not only greatly expands the number of communities with which Teaneck can share ideas and information but it also cements the partnership between Age-Friendly Teaneck and the local leaders who govern and manage the township, which is the key to making any successful and lasting changes, said Julia Stoumbos, program director for the Taub Foundation’s aging-in-place programs.
Age-Friendly Teaneck Project Director Elizabeth Davis and Project Coordinator Jackie Kates joined the mayor and manager in receiving the membership certificate, with both pledging to continue their cooperation.
“I think we’ve accomplished a lot, and we have a lot more to work on and we’re excited to work with all of you,” Davis said.
To learn more about Age-Friendly Teaneck, visit our website: agefriendlyteaneck.org
To learn about the network and participating communities, click https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/network-age-friendly-communities/info-2014/member-list.html
Four Teaneck High School students are going to spend four weeks this summer learning about the different opportunities in the field of geriatrics.
The four students, who were selected from nearly two dozen applicants, will alternate their time between three different providers of elder care in Teaneck - Bright Side Manor assisted living residence, Homewatch CareGivers of Bergen County and Jewish Family and Children's Services of Northern New Jersey.
The opportunity, which comes with a $1,000 stipend, will expose the students to a variety of career paths, with the hope that some of those young people will go into these expanding fields. Within a dozen years, one in five Americans will be over 65, and the country will need an additional 3.5 million health professionals who specialize in taking care of older adults, according to the Eldercare Workforce Alliance.
That’s doctors and nurses, of course, but also social workers, physical therapists, activity coordinators, food-service directors, elder law attorneys, administrators and many other professions.
Age-Friendly Teaneck thinks too few young people are encouraged to pursue these paths, and many may shy away, wrongly perceiving that time spent with older adults will leave them depressed instead of inspired.
Teaneck’s empty-nest population grew sharply this millennium.
Nearly 4,700 households - or about 35 percent of the township’s total - have at least one person over age 65, and nearly a third of those senior-citizen householders live alone, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
The census bureau’s 2012-2016 American Community Survey offers a lot of important clues to how the needs of township residents might change in the next few decades.
Who We Are
Age-Friendly Teaneck formed in 2016 with this mission in mind: A great place to grow up should be a great place to grow old.