Friday, May 13, 2011

A Garden to Remember

Last night, 170 community leaders kicked-off RCIL’s fundraising efforts for a beautiful garden to be built outside of the Dorothy Smith Center for Advocacy on Genesee Street. Susan Matt, a dedicated community supporter, was roasted and toasted and raised thousands. The design of this space transpired from an on-going relationship with Rust to Green, a city-wide initiative launched by Cornell professor, Paula Horrigan. Once built, the outdoor living space will be enjoyed by the over 40 participants served daily in the Adult Day Services program along with the broader community.

Aging in place
Aging in place is the ability for a person, despite health-related conditions, to remain living independently in their home in the midst of their community. To achieve this goal, seniors must maintain their health physically, emotionally, cognitively, and psycho-socially. However, coordinating care and services can be difficult because the delivery system is often fragmented, and needed services may be difficult to find or not always available. The Adult Day Services program provides holistic care and allows for members of our community to be cared for, while still maintaining independence in living within their community.

Alzheimer’s gardens
Over the last decade, research has demonstrated the benefits of gardens as therapeutic for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a calming place when “sundowning” occurs – the classic wandering and agitation associated with dementias. Among the flowers and herbs we can look, hear, taste, touch, and smell and enjoy one of the few spaces that truly allows for universal access. Gardens, too, provide private space for thought and reflection and reminiscence about favorite places from earlier years.

Re-birth of a city
Already a green building with geothermal power, the addition of a frontward-facing, sustainable garden at the Dorothy Smith Center for Advocacy is part of a broader effort to revitalize Utica. As part of its mission to advance projects that improve urban livability, sustainability and resilience, Rust to Green (R2G) provided the technical experience in landscape design to both preserve the character and space of a beautiful old building into what will be a beacon beauty in a city that’s struggled to grow. Click here for more information on R2G.

Beauty. Hope. Remembrance. Let’s build a garden to remember.

For more information, contact Diana Sorrento at 797-4642.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Towards a More Livable New York

With 3.7 million individuals aged 60 and over, New York has quite a challenge in organizing its resources to care for this large and very diverse demographic. To provide some guidance, the New York Office for the Aging has created a three year plan that tries to incorporate individual and community needs with new and existing programs, opportunities and laws (e.g. Older Americans Act Core programs, Areas on Aging discretionary grants, and consumer control and choice mandates). The plan outlines many services aimed at assisting seniors and individuals with disabilities to remain in their homes with a high quality of life and to avoid unnecessary nursing home placement. Services, depending upon need, may include housekeeping, personal care, transportation, delivered meals, coordination of service, day activity and socialization.

A few highlights from the current plan:

The Livable New York Initiative is based on the idea that senior and disability friendly communities are communities that benefit everyone – not just seniors. New provisions, inside the New York State Elder Law, require mixed-use, age-integrated communities. The intent is to provide technical assistance to communities such as identifying issues, planning and working with the unique character of communities. In practical terms, this includes issues like zoning, housing, community-design models, and green-spaces to improve the “livability” of their neighborhoods.

The Naturally Occurring Retirement Community Supportive Service Program (NORC) helps residents who purchased their homes or apartments avoid moving out simply because they need assistance not currently provided in their communities. These “aging in place” programs make economic and social sense since most people prefer to maintain closeness to family and friends and only pay for services they really need. Already, New York State has 36 NORC’s established through community-partnerships and over $4 million in funding. Healthcare, housing, and peer providers work with seniors and the disabled to fill gaps left by existing service systems.

Take a look at the New York Office for Aging’s proposed plan. What do you or your family need that’s missing? What do you want when you’re aging? Are there any ideas that you think should be supported? View the plan on-line at

You have until May 20th to have your voice heard.

Speak up for what you like. Speak out against what you don’t

- Donna