2006-09-06 / Seniors

Senior Spotlight

NORCs Moving From Apt. Houses To Private Home Areas
By John Toscano

NORC, which stands for "naturally occurring retirement community", is a relatively recent concept which, when it originated, targeted residents of an apartment house over a long period of time who had aged in place.

Under the NORC program older residents are provided services to help them stay healthy in their homes--to have the same sort of services provided in a senior center without having to travel to one every day or every few days.

About a year ago, a community of homeowners in Bellerose in Eastern Queens,

Senior many of them seniors, got the idea to apply the NORC principle to seniors in their area and the idea has been quite successful.

State Senator Frank Padavan (R-C), the area's representative, told us when we reached out to him that the idea has worked out really well.

Padavan said that instead of providing services to residents of an apartment house, "this one is spread over an entire community of hundreds of homes, not just a block or a small group of homes, and it includes any senior who wants to take advantage of it."

One of the plan's main benefits is that it contributes to the stability of the community because it encourages seniors to stay in their homes and be provided services, rather than moving out to seek those services elsewhere.

In the broader sense, the aspect of continuing to live in one's home helps to make the government's problem of the elderly moving into nursing homes manageable. Continuing to live at home, which is every senior's greatest wish, with support from various social and health care agencies, is far more manageable for the New York state government than moving people into nursing homes.

Padavan says the Bellerose NORC is run by the Samuel Field YMCAand the residents which it serves help to operate it independently, making many of the decisions that make the NORC run effectively.

Among the services provided, he said, are anything from Medicare counseling to getting the snow removed from their walkways in the winter "There are people there who have the expertise to get them what they need," Padavan said.

Padavan says he has secured some funds to help in the operation of the NORC, but in many cases the seniors who are served by the NORC have special skills-some are retired electricians or carpenters-and they volunteer their services to help their neighbors.

According to a recent report in Crain's New York Business, NORCs have spread into suburban, private home areas such as the one in Bellerose at an encouraging pace. Their number has grown in New York state from 25 to 31. The city and state provide about $8 million a year in funding and there are plans to increase that figure.

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