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New York’s Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program to Expand

Effective July 1, 2014, the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program has expanded. 

Under the program, tenants who are over the age of 61 and who pay more than a third of their income in a rent-regulated apartment may stabilize their rent.

The expansion of the program is expected to add 24,000 older individuals to the 50,000 already enrolled. Community leaders have asked for help in spreading word, as many seniors in New York City may not be aware that they are eligible. The city’s Finance Department will send letters to applicants who were rejected in the past five years due to income requirements to notify them that they may now be eligible.

SCRIE has helped low-income senior tenants since 1970. The program cost the city $124 million last year, and this year New York State will contribute $1.2 million to its expansion.

Seniors who may be eligible can call 311 to request that a form be mailed to them. Alternatively, they may visit the SCRIE page on the New York City government website:

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Horses May Help Alleviate Alzheimer’s Symptoms

A small pilot study has indicated that equine therapy – spending time grooming, feeding and walking with horses – eases symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia, making patients calmer and happier.

Equine therapy is used today for children and teenagers with emotional and developmental disorders, and the new study indicates that it may also be useful for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at Ohio State University studied 16 people with Alzheimer’s disease who participated in activities at an adult senior daycare center. Eight of the seniors who volunteered for the study were taken to an equine education center while the other eight pursued other activities at the daycare center. The clients visited the farm once a week for four consecutive weeks, grooming, walking and feeding the horses under the supervision of caregivers.

Researchers found that the patients who interacted with horses showed an immediate positive mood change and were less likely to resist care or become agitated later in the day.

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Major League Baseball Supports Autism Awareness

In the coming months, Major League Baseball (MLB) is hosting a number of events to support autism awareness.

For example, the New York Yankees are offering half-price tickets to members of the Autism Speaks community for their Saturday, August 9 home game against the Cleveland Indians. The offer is valid for select general, non-premium seating areas. Fans may purchase these tickets at a half-price savings from the regular advance ticket price. The discount is on a first-come, first-serve basis and is only available online at, using the “autism” offer code. You may call (212) YANKEES with any questions. The offer expires August 8, 2014.

Autism Speaks is a leading autism advocacy and research organization. Its members are committed to funding research into causes, treatment and cures for autism, raising awareness about autism spectrum disorders, and advocating for people with autism. Learn more at

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Accessing Guide Dogs and Service Dogs as a Veteran

Veterans with disabilities who are in need of guide dogs or service dogs can get help through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Service dogs are trained to perform tasks for a person with a physical disability. Dogs are traditionally trained as guides for people who are blind or visually impaired, but service dogs are also trained to help people without vision impairments.

Disabled veterans who may benefit from a service dog are assessed by the VA. Blind and hearing-impaired veterans who want a guide dog are put in touch with independent guide dog schools. All other disability cases are evaluated to determine the goals to be accomplished through the use of a service dog and to establish that the veteran has the ability and means to care for the dog.

In every case, the VA provides veterinary care and equipment through its Prosthetics and Sensory Aids program. However, the VA does not pay for food, boarding, grooming or other routine expenses associated with owning a dog.

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Seniors Are Now the Fastest-Growing Social Media Adopters

Seniors are starting to catch up with younger Americans in their use of communication technology and social media. Older Americans now belong to the fastest-growing group of social media adopters, though they still use the internet and social media less often than people in younger age groups who adopted social media earlier do.

A study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project found that 59 percent of Americans age 65 or older are internet users, an increase of six percentage points in one year. Also, 77 percent of seniors report owning a cellphone (an increase from 69 percent in 2012).

Despite the growing adoption rates of communication technology among the elderly, a large number of older Americans still remain remain relatively unconnected to online life when compared to the population as a whole. Among all adults, 86 percent are internet users and 91 percent have cellphones.

Social media displays this gap clearly. Forty-six percent of online seniors, or 27 percent of the total population of older Americans, use social networking sites such as Facebook — compared to 73 percent of adult internet users or 63 percent of all adults.

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Alzheimer’s Deaths Significantly Underestimated in Past Accounts

A new study indicates that the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease may be six times higher than previously thought, making it the third most deadly disease in the United States. Only heart disease and cancer cause more fatalities.

Earlier numbers indicated that 83,000 people died of Alzheimer’s in 2010, but according to the new study, the actual number of fatalities from the disease that year was closer to 500,000. Heart disease caused nearly 600,000 deaths in 2010, and cancer caused about 575,000.

According to researchers at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University in Chicago, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease go underreported, causing the discrepancy. Often, only the immediate cause of death, such as pneumonia, is reported on a death certificate, and an underlying cause of death, like Alzheimer’s disease, is not listed.

It is estimated that 5.2 million people had Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, and that deaths related to the disease have increased by nearly 68 percent over the past ten years.

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Seniors and Smart Homes: Aging in Place

A wave of new, high-tech devices is helping to keep seniors safe. As the baby boomer generation ages and personal electronic technology develops, many gadgets aimed at the health and safety needs of seniors are coming to the mainstream market.

Already readily available, wireless monitoring kits allow the adult children of elderly parents to check in on seniors remotely. One kit, called Lively, comes with six tiny accelerometers that can be placed in various areas around the home to detect movement. The devices can be placed on a bed, favorite chair or refrigerator door. The senior can also carry the device on his or her person, hung on a keychain or tucked in the sole of a shoe. The senior’s adult children or other caregivers can then monitor the activity patterns through a secure website. If there is no movement after a certain period of time, an alert is activated.

Other high-tech gadgets are on the way. Soon, sensors embedded in carpet will be able to analyze walking patterns to predict infirmities, an easy chair will be able to take vital signs and prescription bottle caps will alert seniors when medication needs to be taken.

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Owning a Pet Benefits Seniors’ Health

The companionship of owning a pet increases the happiness of many seniors and has real health benefits.

Physical health is related to psychological and emotional well-being, and many studies have shown that owning and handling animals has significant benefits. An animal companion can help older adults live longer, healthier lives. A May 1999 geriatrics study showed that seniors living with pets had better physical and mental health on average than those who did not.

Loneliness and social isolation can be major problems for seniors, and owning a pet can provide companionship, a sense of purpose and a daily routine — all of which contribute to mental well-being.

Recognizing these benefits, some skilled nursing facilities and independent living communities permit pets. Ensure that the pet you choose suits its potential owner’s temperament. If you are considering a pet for a senior living independently, be sure to consider a plan for the animal’s care and determine whether you or someone else would care for the animal if the senior is no longer able to.

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New Technologies Help Keep Seniors Safe

It’s been called “nana technology.” New high-tech devices are being designed to help keep seniors safe.

One such tool is a GPS device that can be embedded in a shoe sole. The devices can be used to help locate Alzheimer’s patients who wander, and they are more discreet than a wrist or ankle band, which patients may try to remove.

The unobtrusive nature of the new devices is a large part of their appeal. Medical alert devices, which can summon help in the event of a fall or a medical crisis, are often rejected by seniors who do not want the stigma of wearing a bulky pendant.

The new medical alert systems are sleeker, and the GPS capabilities allow them to function anywhere. Older devices only worked within a few hundred feet of the home, sometimes discouraging elders from taking walks that provide needed exercise.

Other systems are available that can monitor a senior’s home, letting caregivers keep track of changes in eating and sleeping habits that may be symptoms of a medical issue.

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Innovative Alzheimer’s “Village” May Be a Model for the U.S.

An Alzheimer’s care facility in the Netherlands is modeled after a village, allowing patients to roam freely and safely, providing a possible model for facilities in the U.S.

As in other dementia-care facilities, patients at Hogeweyk are prevented from leaving for their own safety. However, within the complex, residents may roam freely, visiting parks and shops, such as a grocery store and restaurant staffed by Hogeweyk employees in street clothes.

The design of the facility improves residents’ quality of life by allowing them a degree of self-determination in their daily life. It also addresses the common problem of wandering: the residents of Hogeweyk may roam at will down the boulevard and paths while remaining safely inside the facility.

Each apartment in the facility hosts between six and eight people, including caretakers. Residents participate in cooking and cleaning, keeping to familiar routines that make them feel comfortable. Administrators say that the model provides residents with the care and safety they need, while giving them the maximum amount of freedom to make their own decisions about daily life.

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