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Aging in Place Preps to Aid White Plains Seniors

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- On Sept. 18, Paul Schwarz and more than a dozen others on the Aging in Place in White Plains (AIPIWP) steering committee will help synch White Plains with the national trend of communities stepping in to aid seniors who wish to remain in their homes.

Judy Morse and a friend began brainstorming about ways to get those who are unable to drive to doctor appointments and supermarkets about three years ago. Inspiration came from similar organizations, such as Beacon Hill Village in Boston, the "granddaddy" that opened 10 years ago and the Gramatan Village in Bronxville, which is Westchester's oldest community-based senior assistance model.

By Spring 2010, AIPIW had worked out its structure and secured Schwarz as its president. Many on the steering committee are excited to learn from about eight other similar communities that have sprouted up in the county.

"It starts with the idea that 95 percent of seniors who are aging prefer to stay at home," said Schwarz, 71, a retired Scarsdale middle school teacher and White Plains resident. "I'm perfectly capable of doing everything, but I don't know what I'll need when I'm 81 and 91. Today I run around: I go to the gym, I play golf, anywhere I want to go. But the first thing that comes up is transportation. If you lose your ability to drive then it gets tough."

AIPIWP will introduce its mission, nonprofit structure, and enroll members during its official launch at the White Plains Library Sunday. Individuals who pay $100 a year and households that pay $150 annually will have access to rides to essential locations and appointments, invitations to several social events, and access to a reference guide of businesses, such as plumbers, electricians, and healthcare providers. Reduced rates will be available based on members' financial needs.

"Every study about (aging) shows that people are healthier as they are engaged with other people and engaged in the community," said Schwarz. "We'll have activities like a lunch with a speaker, a theater trip."

As the ranks of the all-volunteer organization age, Judy Morse said AIPIWP hopes to recruit new volunteers willing to pick up members in their cars with the understanding that one day, they may be AIPIWP members looking for a ride.

"I think it’s wonderful that our president is younger and we welcome any age,” said Morse, who is on the AIPIWP's steering committee. “We really do. There’s a large need for people who live alone and whose friends are no longer around, especially for the social interaction. I wanted it selfishly for myself."

What do you think of Aging in Place in White Plains? Is it something somebody in your family might find useful? Are you interested getting involved? Email thoughts to strangle@mainstreetconnect.us.

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