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2. INDEPENDENT LIVING WITH MEMORY SUPPORT

Prospect Park Residence
One Prospect Park W., Brooklyn; 718-622-8400; castleseniorliving.com
Facilities: 120 apartments; 23 memory-support rooms.
Fees: $3,200 to $4,000 per month; $1,500 application fee.
Waiting list: 30 to 60 days.

Considered by experts to be a good option for people with Alzheimer’s who aren’t ready for nursing care, Prospect Park has a floor reserved exclusively for the cognitively impaired. Public areas there resemble living rooms with slight color variations in the floor and walls to help orient residents, and the corridors were designed with no dead ends to minimize confusion. Residents on memory support live in rooms with private or shared bathrooms but no kitchen, and take all meals in a private dining room, while regular independent-living residents live in prewar but well-maintained apartments, some with park views. Residents can get a “start-up” package offering morning bathing and dressing for $525 a month, with one-on-one care available for a minimum of four hours, through an on-site agency for $15 an hour. The facility draws a mixed-faith, middle-to-upper-middle-class crowd from Bay Ridge, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and other Brooklyn neighborhoods. The location—a WALK sign away from Prospect Park, directly across Grand Army Plaza from the new Richard Meier building, and walking distance to the library, Brooklyn Museum, Botanic Gardens, and Park Slope’s retail epicenter—is so desirable that there’s some concern that Prospect Park’s new owners, the Copper Group, may turn it into condos (if that’s a plan, they’re not talking about it).

“I didn't mind moving to Lott House, but I still haven't fully adjusted. I've made one friend, but she has kids. She's got more company than God. If I wasn't such a nice person, I'd be jealous.”
Virginia Cox, 77, Lott House

Sunrise Senior Living at Mill Basin
5905 Strickland Ave., Brooklyn; 718-444-2600; sunriseseniorliving.com
Facilities: 94 300-square-foot apartments; 35 spaces in memory-support rooms.
Fees: $3,200 to $5,500 per month plus a one-time “community fee” equivalent to one month’s rent.
Waiting list: A month.

The term vertical villages aptly describes many of the city’s senior homes, but the three-story Sunrise is more like a seaside inn, with rocking chairs overlooking boats in Mill Basin Channel. Though it’s owned by an industry behemoth—Sunrise operates 420 senior-living facilities worldwide—residents and elder-care experts say it’s an affordable and attractive standout in this category. Those with dementia live in a secure wing with activities designed to bring back memories of gardening, sewing, office work, and household chores. Basic-care plans start at $34 a day (in addition to the standard fees) for helping residents take medications; assistance with activities like dressing and bathing start at $10 an hour through Sunrise’s licensed home health agency. All apartments have grab bars, low-lift showers, and emergency pull cords. The food, with adaptions for diabetics and others with special needs, has its fans. “I’ve gained ten pounds,” says Rosemarie Russo, 92, who’s only lived there since July. “It’s not home, but it’s as close as it can be.”

3. INDEPENDENT LIVING WITH NURSING CARE

RiverWalk, Riverdale Terrace, and the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale
5961 Palisade Ave., 3247 Johnson Ave., 5901 Palisade Ave., Riverdale; 800-567-3646; hebrewhome.org
Facilities: 192 apartments, one- and two-bedrooms; 870 nursing-home beds.
Fees: $3,300 to $4,500 (except penthouse) per month for independent living; $12,000 to $18,000 per month for nursing home.
Waiting list: One to two months for independent; varies for nursing home.

This facility tops the list of nearly every expert we interviewed for the total package: the quality of its care, the beauty of its campus, lectures by Sarah Lawrence professors, and, most notably, a world-class art collection (with more than 4,500 donated pieces and a full-time curator to manage them all, Hebrew Home is registered as a museum with the IRS). There are two independent-living options: Riverdale Terrace, a 59-unit apartment building downtown, or RiverWalk, a 133-unit complex that sits on a nineteen-acre campus alongside Hebrew Home and a virtual mini-mall of services including beauty salons, barber shops, and a café. RiverWalk’s apartments are the more luxurious of the two independent-living choices, with full modern kitchens, ample bathrooms, and large living rooms (a $6,200-a-month penthouse has views of Manhattan and the Hudson). Here the monthly fee includes meals, activities, transportation, fitness center, all utilities, and basic cable, as well as housekeeping and linen service. The complex is almost entirely Jewish, with kosher kitchens and no music on Saturday. Residents of both apartment communities get priority entry to Hebrew Home, whose highly regarded Alzheimer’s program is considered one of the area’s best. It’s the only nursing home in New York State with a heated, therapeutic exercise pool.

Isabella Geriatric Center
515 Audubon Ave., nr. W. 191st St.; 212-342-9200; isabella.org
Facilities: 77 independent-living apartments, from studios to one-bedrooms; 705 nursing beds.
Fees: $1,825 to $2,350 per month.
Waiting list: Three to six months for a one-bedroom; a year for a studio; up to three to four months for nursing home.

Residents at Isabella are anything but isolated. The facility is housed in a community center that’s a hub of activity for local citizens’ groups, amateur theater troupes, a 50-plus club, and an after-school program for high-schoolers. Recommended for those who can’t afford luxury but don’t qualify for subsidized housing, Isabella is shy on designer touches—common areas in both the independent-living and nursing quarters can be a little dreary, and the apartments themselves, which are equipped with a full refrigerator, a two-burner stove, and a half-sink, are a bit dated. “We might not have the plush ambience of an Atria, but our prices are modest and we’re small and friendly,” says marketing director Betty Lehmann. “And being near the nursing home is a relief.” (The independent-living and nursing-home facilities are separate.) In the independent-living section, you’ll find fairly active retired teachers, police officers, and nurses from upper Manhattan and the Upper West Side. Approximately a quarter are Japanese-American, owing to Isabella’s long ties with Japanese cultural organizations. The nursing home is at the forefront of an industrywide trend of “culture change” or “resident-centered care.” Floor plans are designed for a homelike atmosphere, and staff members are trained to develop warm relationships with residents.


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