Years of the Maplewood NJ Senior (Older Adult)

I agree with you on the shared housing idea, or "senior shares" as I have heard them termed. As for a senior tax break, that would involve convincing other residents that it serves the common good -- I firmly believe it does, especially the students presently in the district who have to share services and a budget that does not expand, given constraints, as enrollment increases. What makes me scratch my head is why few in our two towns got behind the proposal to give every public school student in the state the same amount of state aid. That would have done two things. Put more money in the school budget, and, (2) lowered the average homeowner tax bill in South Orange by nearly $4,000. I am appalled that our elected officials in South Orange and Maplewood, whose primary responsibility is seeing after the well-being of their constituents, did not support this initiative. I need not add how this $4,000 reduction in property tax would have been a great relief to seniors who over time are more and more dependent on fixed income. In conclusion, any town that calls itself "age-friendly," yet watches as its senior population slowly decreases over time (we are becoming more and more two towns primarily of school families, witness the nearly 15% increase in enrollment in our public schools since 2007), does not deserve the title. Housing and taxes and loss of senior population ought to be in the forefront of issues recent initiatives in Maplewood and South Orange ought to address.


If you really want to work or change, I would suggest that you join one or more of the subcommittees of the Local Steering Committee of SOMA Tow Towns For All Ages. Cathy Rowe, Project Director for the initiative who works out of Maplewood Town Hall should be able to supply you with the necessary information to do this.


I would strongly support zoning changes to allow accessory dwelling units ("granny flats") within or behind existing houses. This would allow a homeowner to provide housing for a caregiver or family member, or else rent it out for additional income to help with taxes. This would also allow seniors to move in with an adult child while maintaining independence and privacy.

It would have the added benefit of providing additional moderate-income housing in an extremely expensive area. What's better -- a couple dozen apartments sprinkled invisibly throughout Maplewood, or another hulking monstrosity blighting the town. (Sorry, I'm channeling author.)



kthnry said:

I would strongly support zoning changes to allow accessory dwelling units ("granny flats") within or behind existing houses. This would allow a homeowner to provide housing for a caregiver or family member, or else rent it out for additional income to help with taxes. This would also allow seniors to move in with an adult child while maintaining independence and privacy.

It would have the added benefit of providing additional moderate-income housing in an extremely expensive area. What's better -- a couple dozen apartments sprinkled invisibly throughout Maplewood, or another hulking monstrosity blighting the town. (Sorry, I'm channeling author.)

This is my issue also. 20+ years ago, we replaced our garage that was falling down. We thought about making an upper level on top with a studio apartment space that we could have used for a nanny, since we had an infant and a preschooler at the time. The zoning rules prevented that. And, as mentioned above, now in our empty-nesters phase and as we are starting to think about the potential of "aging in place", such a space could be used either as a rental to help defray some of our costs or as accommodations for a caregiver in the future.

Those zoning rules (as I understand it) are to help maintain our town as a community of primarily single-family homes. But, with all of the big apartment buildings going in these days, that doesn't really seem to be governing the decisions being made any more. So why not also allow garage apartments which have little or no effect on the character of the housing in town while providing additional moderate income housing?


Maybe that's the question... how do zoning laws get changed? What changes would we want?


Zoning change is one of the factors that will need to be considered if approaches such as shared housing and accessory dwelling units are to be implemented. Since there are Senior-led households throughout town, these changes will likely have to be considered town-wide, though accessory dwelling units may not be possible in some of neighborhoods (mostly south and east) due to average lot size being too small for an accessory dwelling unit to be feasible. A possible stumbling block could be opposition in some neighborhoods where homeowners do not want such zoning change for a variety of reasons. Existing fire, health, and building codes would also have to examined and possibly modified to make some of this happen. Some such code restrictions may limit the action the town can take if there are substantial reasons for not enacting such modification. The process will be far from easy. Implementation far from automatic.


From my perspective, South Orange and Maplewood seem more interested in welcoming newcomers to our towns in the form of apartment dwellers, even though these new residents will on average have relatively short stays here; meanwhile, for seniors, many of whom have lived here far longer and have more invested in the community and wish to stay, little is done, whether through zoning or property tax adjustment, to help them stay here. Even though seniors, being empty-nesters, are no tax burden on the school system and save the towns money just by staying put. We have to face the fact that large homes have to be adjusted in some way to make it practical for seniors who want to stay. That could mean "senior shares" of the residence, or building a studio over a garage. Either way, I think the towns should be more concerned about the well-being of long-term residents than attracting outsiders by building apartments for the ratables.



Formerlyjerseyjack said:

Maybe that's the question... how do zoning laws get changed? What changes would we want?

There are plenty of models in other parts of the country. For example, garage apartments are common in Texas, where sac and I are from, which is why we're familiar with the benefits and in favor of the idea.

However, I foresee a lot of opposition in M/SO. There's some ugly NIMBY-ism here. I've brought up the idea before and had howls of outrage. So I just drop references every once in a while to encourage people to think about it.

My house is already a two-family house. That's how I'm able to stay. And this is not my battle to fight.


Housing has been placed on the agenda for today's Management Committee meeting (Age Friendly Cities Initiative). I will report back if anything definitive results from the meeting but I suspect this will be more of an introduction to the need for a discussion than a discussion that resolves anything this early in the process. It is an excellent indicator that the subject is being introduced at the Committee's first meeting. Most of the members from both towns are municipal officials (elected and appointed) so there is a real possibility that something can actually get done in this and other areas of interest to our Seniors.


Joan, please post back and let us know if town officials seem receptive to allowing ADUs (accessory dwelling units). If they're willing to consider it, I'd participate in a working group. I think it could be done effectively here since we have lots of properties with big lots, especially in South Orange.


kthnry Accessory Dwelling Units were not discussed at the meeting I attended. There was some discussion of affordable housing, difficult to do since affordable units could not be reserved/earmarked for seniors unless a senior specific building were to be built. There was discussion of shared housing which both towns seem receptive to, including mention of a law currently on the books which enables a person over the age of 62 to rent a room in their house to one unrelated individual. For more information you can contact Cathy Rowe, Project Coordinator for the Age Friendly Cities Initiative now branded as SOMA, Two Towns For All Ages. We also discussed the possibility of making information available to seniors who want to modify their home to make it more age friendly.


I just received the following email:

Dear Seniors:

The Maplewood Recreation Department is looking for volunteers to fill eggs for the

Annual Spring Egg Hunt in Memorial Park.

Come out to help us prepare for this important event, meet friends & enjoy lunch. Volunteers will meet:

Monday, March 27 11:30 am

Maplewood Senior Center at 106 Dehart

Lunch will be provided

Please rsvp by Friday morning (so we can order lunch)

by calling Michelle at 973)%20763-0750">973-763-0750 or emailing Cathy at crowe@twp.maplewood.nj.us

We are also looking for volunteers to help us hand out cookies and juice boxes at the event the morning of April 1st if you are interested let us know!


April activities for Seniors from the Maplewood Senior Spotlight:

Morris Museum trip: April 5th. Departs DeHart Community Center 11:00 am; cost $5 for museum plus lunch at Friendly's. Registration required.

Senior Club meeting: April 12th at 10:00 am at 106 Burnett Avenue. Self Motivation.

Ocean Grove Shore Trip: April 20th. Departs DeHart Community Center at 9:00 am. No cost for transportation. Lunch and any other expenses on your own. Registration required.

Lunch and Learn: Home Safety: April 26th at 106 Burnett Avenue at 11:30 am. Lunch provided. Registration required.

Greenwood Gardens trip: April 27th. Departs DeHart Community Center at 10:30 am. Cost $26 cash due no later than April 25th. Includes lunch at Basillico's. Registration required.

Registration is required for those programs having limited capacity or where food is being provided. To register either phone 973-763-0750 or register in person at the DeHart Community Center during hours when the center is open.



Email just received detailing events in April of interest to Maplewood/South Orange Seniors:

Upcoming Events for Older Adults in Maplewood and South Orange

(All events are free unless otherwise noted, registration may be required)

Wednesday, April 5: Trip to Morris Museum

· Leaves from Maplewood Community Center, 120 Burnett Ave, 11am.

· Museum $5, lunch at Friendly’s (pay as you go)

· Registration required, call Michelle at 973)%20763-0750" value="+19737630750" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">(973) 763-0750

Saturdays, April 15 & 22: Introduction to Microsoft Word

· 10:30 – noon, Hilton Branch Library, 1688 Springfield Ave A 2-part workshop for intermediate computer users who can use a mouse.

· Registration required: https://introtowordapril.eventbrite.com or 973)%20762-1688" value="+19737621688" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">(973)-762-1688

Monday, April 17: Medication Reconciliation Program

· Winchester Gardens Auditorium, 333 Elmwood Ave, Maplewood

· Begins at 2:30pm, free and open to the public. Make a 10 minute appointment by calling Carolyn at 973)%20378-5146" value="+19733785146" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">(973)378-5146.

· Presented by St. Barnabas Medical Center.

· Bring all of your current medications for review of safety and potential interactions.

Monday, April 17: Trip to the Cherry Blossoms in Branchburg Park

· S.Orange Jitney leaving the Baird parking lot at 10am.

· Call by noon on April 13 to reserve seat. 973)%20378-7754" value="+19733787754" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">(973)378-7754 x1

Tuesday, April 18: Computer Explorations

· 1:00 pm at Hilton Library

· Computer beginners and intermediate users can get help from an instructor on your specific needs.

Wednesday April 19 and Thursday, April 20: Adult Health Screenings

· Wednesday, 10:30-noon at the Maplewood main library; Thursday 10:00 – noon at Maplewood Town Hall

Thursday, 4/20: Jersey Shore Trip

· Leaves DeHart Community Center at 9am sharp!

· Free but limited seats on bus, so reserve early 973)%20763-0750" value="+19737630750" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">(973)763-0750.

· Bring money for lunch and comfortable shoes for walking.

Daily through April 22: BOOKED 14- Annual Exhibition of Artists Books by Members of THE BOOK ARTS ROUNDTABLE

· The Pierro Gallery at The Baird, 5 Mead Street, S. Orange .

· 10:00-4:00 daily, closed Sundays and April 14.

Saturday, April 22: What is Single-Payer Health Care ?

· Bennet Zurofsky will present information about the single- payer system proposed by the NJ Universal Health Care Coalition .

· Maplewood Memorial Library, 1pm, the Durand Room.

Saturday, April 22: Grandmothers as Caregivers – Taking Care of You!

· Hosted by the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network and the Essex County Family Council, this health fair will focus on health issues of women over 50 who are raising or caring for grandchildren and other caregivers.

· Newark Cityplex 12 Cinema, 360 Springfield Ave, Newark 10am – 2 pm

Wednesday, April 26: Lunch & Learn – How to Live Safely in Your Own Home

· 11:00 at 106 Burnett Ave.

· Mia Kabea from Seniors in Place, LLC will share tools for making adjustments to stay in your home.

· Free but limited seating, rsvp to 973)%20763-0750" value="+19737630750" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">(973) 763-0750.

Thursday, April 27: Trip to Greenwood Gardens, Short Hills and lunch at Basilico

· Leaves the Maplewood Community Center, 120 Burnett Ave, 10:30 am

· $26 per person ($10 for gardens, $16 for lunch)

Saturday, April 29th: Prescription Drug Take Back Day, 10 am-2 pm

· Maplewood Police Headquarters, 1618 Springfield Ave.

· Get rid of your prescription and expired over the counter medications safely at this event.

Saturday, April 29th: Maplewood Glee Club presents “Dance the Night Away”

· St. Joseph’s Church- 767 Prospect Avenue, Maplewood, 8pm

· Tickets for $12 with senior discount code SAVE3, includes refreshments.

· https://www.facebook.com/events/1043156932496934/

Sunday, April 30: Senior Care Fair at The Woodland, 1-5pm

· Come and meet providers of services for older residents and those who are caring for them, including health care support, Elderlaw, financial services, volunteer opportunities and age-friendly gadgets.

· Free and open to all residents.


Classes For Seniors in Maplewood and South Orange:

The following is a schedule of upcoming classes and programs for

Arts, Culture and Fitness for older adults in South Orange and Maplewood. Please enjoy and pass on!

Spring Cultural Arts Classes for Adults and Seniors at the Baird

Register at www.thebaird.org or by calling 973)%20378-7754" value="+19733787754" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">(973) 378-7754 x1

Arts Unbound Portrait Painting NEW! For Seniors! Fridays, 3/31 -6/9, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

$15 per class

Learn acrylic portrait painting techniques. Beginner and advanced students welcome. All students will have the opportunity to show those abilities off at Arts Unbound's annual Student and Teacher Exhibit.

To register call Armisey Smith at Arts Unbound at 973)%20675-2787" value="+19736752787" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">973-675-2787 or @artsunbound.org" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">asmith@artsunbound.org

Arts Unbound Mixed Media Collage NEW! For Seniors! Tuesdays, 4/4 – 6/6, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

$8 per class

Learn mixed media collage techniques; watercolor, ink, wax pastels, decorative paper, fabric and more. All students will have the opportunity to show those abilities off at Arts Unbound's annual Student and Teacher Exhibit.

To register call Armisey Smith at Arts Unbound at 973)%20675-2787" value="+19736752787" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">973-675-2787 or @artsunbound.org" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">asmith@artsunbound.org Art with Denise Thursdays 4/6, 5/4 and 6/1/2014, 11:15 AM-1:15 PM

Guided Painting with Denise Hayden

$16.00, $ 12.00 for adults 62+

A fun, social, group setting. Receive step by step guidance as you replicate a featured painting. All supplies provided. Perfect for beginners!

Art With A Master Tuesdays 4/4 -6/6, 12:30 PM-3:00 PM $275.00 + model fee Students of all levels in all mediums work with Master Artist Philip Sherrod.

Beginner Ballroom Dancing

Thursdays, 4/20 – 6/8, 8:30pm to 9:30pm

$88

Each week we will be working on different styles of Ballroom including, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Tango, Waltz, Swing and many more. Wear comfortable clothes and bring your dancing shoes. Don't have a partner? Don't worry! Just let us know and we will do our best to find you a partner

Learn to Knit

Saturdays, 4/29 -5/20, 2-3:30 pm

Learn to knit $150 includes a pair of needles and yarn. To register, email simabrason@icloud.com

Life Drawing

Wednesdays, 4/19 - 6/7, 7:00 PM-9:00 PM

12th grade -Adult, instructor: Larry McKim

$176.00 + model and materials fee

Students will draw from live models each week creating both gesture and longer-term drawings.

Quilting

Tuesdays, 9:30-12:30

This drop-in group is for current quilters or those interested in learning how to.

Maplewood Arts and Culture

Register via Community Pass or by calling the Recreation Department 973)%20762-8120" value="+19737628120" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">(973) 762-8120

Adult SOMA Beat Drumming Course at the Burgdorff

Adults 8-9:30pm

Tuesdays 4/18, 5/2, 5/9, 5/16, 5/23, 5/30

Fun with Photography – The Woodland

Tuesdays - 4/18, 4/25, 5/2, 5/9 – 9:30-11am, great Hall (downstairs)

Or evenings 7:30-9pm, Parlor (upstairs)

$120.00

Phonetography at The Woodland Parlor (upstairs)

Monday4/17 and 4/24, 7:30pm to 9pm

$40.00 per class

Fitness Classes at the Baird

Fitness instructor Robin Weber teaches fitness and chair yoga for seniors, focusing on improving overall stamina and well-being. Register at the Baird for:

Senior Fitness – Wednesday and/or Friday at 10:15

Chair Yoga – Mondays 10:15 and/or Thursdays at 11:15

Fitness Classes at Maplewood Recreation, 106 Burnett Ave.

(next to the Community Center)

Classes run for 8-12 week sessions. Class limited, please register by calling 973)%20763-0750" value="+19737630750" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer ">(973) 763-0750

Monday: Aerobics- 9am

Resistance -10AM

Tai Chi – 1pm

Tuesday: Zumba in the Circuit – 9:30am

Aerobics – 11am

Wednesday: Pilates – 9am

Toning I – 10am

Thursday: Zumba in the Circuit – 9:30am

Friday: Toning II – 9am

Walk 4 Health – 10am

Yoga – 10am


Joan, part of the reason the school district is cash-strapped is that enrollment has increased about 15% this decade, not because families are having more children, but because of the continuing senior homeowner exodus and their replacement by young families moving in. It is in the best interests of the district, given little state aid (exacerbated by money diverted to urban districts when suburban towns can ill-afford it), the budget cap, to work toward stable enrollment. This would benefit the kids presently in our schools, since the district with every added student has to support more with less. I need not add how stable enrollment would benefit seniors, since school funding is the number one contributor to tax increases in our two towns. I have spoken to the board of ed and stable enrollment is something they do not even consider discussing; instead, they will rail about lack of state aid. If more school parents understood how their children are short-changed by increasing enrollment in the schools due to the senior homeowner exodus, they would perhaps be in favor of keeping seniors who want to stay in their homes. By the way, the exodus starts around age 55, even before empty-nesters become seniors. Many do not even wait to hit 65 before leaving. The big push factors are taxes and living in rather large homes that cannot be made use of. These two issues have to be addressed if our senior population is to stop shrinking to a percentage now well below the statewide average.


@commongooder: I think we all know the problem. What we need are solutions. Given that this is a municipal government problem with a school district impact (thus school district's inability to deal with the root causes while struggling with solutions to providing the best possible education for our children given existing resources), what would you suggest that Maplewood and South Orange do to (a) retain more of the seniors and soon-to-be seniors in our community; and (b) attract more childless households to our two towns?


I just received the following email regarding volunteer opportunities available in Maplewood and South Orange.  Contact information is included for each.

We have three upcoming volunteers opportunities for Maplewood and South Orange residents over 60.  Please pass on and share:

 

1.       The Achieve Foundation is looking for volunteers to help at the 3rd Annual Maker Madness

Saturday, April 29th, at Columbia High School

 

Hosted by the Achieve Foundation, Maker Madness is a free, all-day community fair that welcomes adults and children to explore and partake in dozens of projects and demonstrations that showcase STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics). With projects presented by local businesses, volunteer station leaders, and students, the event offers silk screen prints, computer coding, wood working, electronics tear-down and many more! With more than 1,000 attendees last year, we know that we could not do it without your help! Bring a friend or two to volunteer at this exciting event and be part of the Maker Madness! Volunteers will receive t-shirts and free refreshments from the concession.

 

Volunteer duties may include:

•Welcoming and greeting attendees

•Assist with registration, concession and t-shirt sales

•Relieving Makers for breaks

•Serving at Maker stations

•Event clean up

 

Volunteers are also needed Friday, April 28, 6-9pm at the high school, and for varying shifts during the day on Saturday, April 29, between9am and 5pm.  To volunteer, please visit:

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080c49adab2caaf58-volunteer   

or contact Amy Forman at 973)%20762-5600" value="+19737625600" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">(973)762-5600 or aforman@somsd.k12.nj.us

 

2.       Ongoing Volunteers needed for Achieve Tutoring

The Achieve Foundation has an active tutoring program involving all of our district schools, Volunteers can help after school, during the school day at our elementary schools, or Saturday mornings at Columbia High School for students of all ages.  If you are interested in learning more about becoming a tutor, please contact the Achieve Foundation at  973)%20762-5600" value="+19737625600" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">(973) 762-5600 or follow the link below:

https://4elbows.formstack.com/forms/adult_volunteer_tutor_application?field44351281=No&field50070331=Tutor.

 

3.       Interfaith Hospitality Network – “When I Think of Home” Concert, Monday, May 8, 6:30-9pm at The Woodland

Local Broadway singers are bringing out their talent to raise money for IHN, a non-profit helping families facing homelessness in Essex County.  Volunteers are needed to help with the silent auction and light bartending.  In exchange, volunteers will get admission to the concert.  Six volunteers are needed. If interested, contact Cathy Rowe at 973)%20558-0863" value="+19735580863" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">973-558-0863 or crowe@twp.maplewood.nj.us

 

 

 

 


Allowing "accessory dwelling units" could help with BOTH affordable housing and elder-friendliness.  And they don't fundamentally change the housing character of the town the way larger apartment buildings do. So I just don't understand why there should be so much push-back against them.


Wouldn't accessory dwelling units require a large enough lot size to accommodate the accessory dwelling unit?  Would there be problems with extending existing utility lines to the new or enhanced structure?  What problems, if any, might this pose to the fire department if such units were towards the rear of the primary structure?  I could see it working on some lots in town but not everywhere.  It would be interesting to see what anyone reading this with a background in local zoning would see as the problems the town would face in allowing them.



joan_crystal said:

Wouldn't accessory dwelling units require a large enough lot size to accommodate the accessory dwelling unit?  Would there be problems with extending existing utility lines to the new or enhanced structure?  What problems, if any, might this pose to the fire department if such units were towards the rear of the primary structure?  I could see it working on some lots in town but not everywhere.  It would be interesting to see what anyone reading this with a background in local zoning would see as the problems the town would face in allowing them.

If it is a garage apartment, i.e. conversion of existing garage or addition/finishing of second floor of an existing garage, no additional lot size would be required.


True, assuming the existing garage structure could support an additional floor or an existing space already existed (grandfathered in) where one could be added to the property.  However, not every property has an existing detached garage or space in which to place one.  Some lots to the south and east for example are probably too small to accommodate this.



joan_crystal said:

True, assuming the existing garage structure could support an additional floor or an existing space already existed (grandfathered in) where one could be added to the property.  However, not every property has an existing detached garage or space in which to place one.  Some lots to the south and east for example are probably too small to accommodate this.

Of course, and that's another issue.  

My experience was that we had to replace an existing garage shortly after we moved into our house (over 20 years ago), because the old one was falling down.  So we had space for a garage and we could have designed it to include an apartment if the zoning rules had allowed that. 

Other people may already have a second floor that is storage that they want to finish and add plumbing and electric in order to make it habitable.  Still others may just want to keep their car(s) outdoors and convert the garage to an apartment.  

No solution will work on every lot and some lots may just be too small for any accessory building, but that doesn't mean they should be prohibited everywhere.


Agree the possibility of adding accessory buildings to those lots that can accommodate them should be studied.  Whether there are issues that might prevent its approval that neither of us anticipate remains to be seen.


A program exploring housing options for Seniors is scheduled for May 20, 2017.  As soon as I get a time and location, I will post that information here.


 


If the focus on Seniors also included focusing on adults with disabilities, perhaps the conversation would include things like accessible building and town zoning rules. I have been wondering why in Maplewood the focus is exclusively on seniors and not inclusive of disabled adults in our community?  I know that the answer is going to be that we parents of significantly impaired adult with disabilities have to show up at the meeting, etc. But parents of significantly impaired adults with disabilities might have our hands full with caregiving. As the parent of a young adult with profound disability, I find it discouraging that in say, Livingston, all senior programming is open to adults (18 +) with profound disabilities, and here in Maplewood the disabled adults seem to not be on the radar.



Finnegan:

This thread is in the Senior Issues section of the Message Board, thus the specific reference to Seniors in many of the posts.  Central to my comments has been progress being made by those working under a specific grant program funded by the Grotta Fund which is aimed at making it more possible for older adults to age in place in our community.  Some of the issues under discussion at present, enhanced street lighting, better communication of policies, programs, and services available to Maplewood and South Orange residents, enhancement of volunteer opportunities available in town, etc. are of benefit to all of us.  Other factors under study such as existing and proposed government and not for profit programs with age requirements for eligibility are more Senior-specific.

Mental and physical disabilities are a significant problem faced by many if not most of us as we age. Issues being explored by Maplewood and South Orange under the Grotta Fund grant, which serves as the central core of this particular thread, include by extension ways to make our two towns more accessible to everyone. Some of these approaches presently under discussion include improving public walkway maintenance, making handicapped parking locations more responsive to the needs of those using them, and making public buildings more accessible. Enhanced public transportation availability through public, not for profit, and for profit resources, modifications/changes to the zoning code, finding ways/resources to make our housing stock more accessible to those with disabilities are all on the table.  What else would you suggest that we consider?




Finnegan did make a suggestion as I read his/her post -  that (like Livingston) "all senior programming [be] open to adults (18 +) with profound disabilities". (i.e. not age-restricted in that situation.) I would definitely support that.


I would be interested in knowing more about the Senior programs offered by Livingston that are of interest to severely disabled younger adults.  Perhaps we can learn something from what they are doing and improve Maplewood's offerings.  To date, I am not sure how that would work here.  We need to do a lot of work to make town offerings more accessible to severely disabled Seniors, let alone open them to a younger disabled population.  Here is the reality we are dealing with.

The programs offered to Maplewood Seniors by the township are delivered by the Department of Recreation  and to some extent by the Health Department.  All are suitable for active, mobile, independent Seniors but would pose real challenges for persons young or old who have severe mental and or physical disabilities.

The Senior bus is not accessible. There are steep stairs to enter and leave the bus. Few seats have working seat belts.  There is no provision for wheel chairs.  Senior shopping trips are not escorted.  The driver drops Seniors off and picks them up about two hours later.  This would pose a serious problem to a disabled person of any age wanting to take advantage of the service.

The Senior Center has a ramp, which may or may not be handicapped accessible but this ramp is on the side of the building away from most of the parking.  Most persons climb a steep set of stairs to enter the building.  The doors are not automatic, nor do they have an automatic mechanism for holding them open. At present there is no sidewalk or pathway connecting the senior center building to the area where most of the parking is located.  There are no grab bars or other assistance devices within the building to enable the disabled to navigate once inside unless they are able to ambulate on their own or have an aide with them who can help them get around.  

Sponsored programs include exercise classes where participants have to be able to participate on their own without assistance, lectures are geared to subjects of particular interest to older Americans, and bus trips, on the bus which is not handicapped accessible, to destinations where participants have to be able to stand and walk around for an extended period of time.  

Other organizations offer programs that may be of interest to Seniors.  Most of those do not have age restrictions governing who may attend.  The only town offering I think of at the moment that might be of interest to a younger person are the Friday DVD offerings which are selected with an older audience in mind and are held in the Senior Center which as mentioned previously is minimally accessible and could pose a serious challenge to the profoundly disabled.  

The limited, narrow offerings were one of the major factors leading the Two Towns For All Ages Initiative and the establishment of a Seniors Advisory Committee to the TC.  We have a lot of work to do to make our Senior programs more accessible to those of our Seniors with mobility and sensory disabilities and to expand the range of programming to make it more attractive those of our seniors looking for increased intellectual stimulation.

Most of the Senior-specific services presently offered to Seniors are limited by legislation and/or grant provisions as to who can be covered and what services can be provided.

Finally, Maplewood does not have what one would consider a drop in facility where Seniors can spend the day.  Most Senior programs are limited in duration, usually for an hour or two.  The building is presently unattended [and locked] when a program is not being held.  Maplewood is presently negotiating with a developer interested in building an assisted living facility which would include Senior Day Care.  Lobbying for profoundly disabled younger adults to be included in their program once that facility is up and running (assuming it comes into being) might be a possible solution.

Any suggestions as to what Maplewood can reasonably do to address this issue, including examples of what has worked in other jurisdictions would be deeply appreciated.  The next meeting of the Seniors Advisory Committee is scheduled for this coming Tuesday evening.  Please post suggestions here or contact me by PM (I am a member of the Advisory Committee) and I will pass them along.  The monthly meeting of the Executive Board of SOMA Two Towns For All Ages was just held a few days ago.  If you have any suggestions for things the Grotta Fund Grant can address, please post or PM me (I sit on the Board) or share them directly with Program Coordinator Cathy Rowe.


How did the Grotta Fund originate?



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