1. INDEPENDENT LIVING
Carnegie East House
1844 Second Ave., at 95th St.; 212-410-0033, carnegieeast.org
Facilities: 104 apartments, from studios to two-bedrooms.
Fees: $4,000 to $6,600 per month; $250 application fee.
Waiting list: At least six months for units with East River views; two to three years for one of 21 units set aside for qualifying low-income applicants.
This $35 million, nineteen-floor high-rise attracts an active, solidly upper-middle-class crowd. The residents form a small, fairly intimate community, with no significant religious orientation. Built as a senior residence four years ago, Carnegie East has a modern but homey feel; bright, open common spaces; and well-designed apartments with easy-access showers and small kitchenettes. This $35 million, nineteen-floor high-rise attracts active, upper-middle-class residents, who form a small, intimate community, with no significant religious orientation. Most independent-living facilities don’t provide staff to help with dressing, bathing, and grooming—families have to hire an aide, either on their own or from an agency affiliated with the residence. But one notable perk of Carnegie East is the three-and-a-half hours of personal care per week included in the monthly fees (anything above that is about $18 an hour). There’s also a “healthy aging” program staffed by a nurse practitioner, a consulting geriatrician, and social workers that provides free health screenings, nutrition counseling, and exercise classes.
The Village at 46th and Ten
510 W. 46th St., at Tenth Ave.; 212-977-4600, ext. 4678, villagehousing.org
Facilities: 83 apartments, from studios to two-bedrooms.
Fees: $3,000 to $4,600 per month; state-subsidized rate is $978.
Waiting list: None for market rate; two years for subsidized.
The Village isn’t lavish. The lobby resembles an off–Times Square budget hotel, the food is simple rather than gourmet, and there’s no daily shuttle to the Met. The folks who live here, however, rave about the congenial social atmosphere, and elder-care experts tout the residence’s affiliation with Village Care of New York, a respected nonprofit that runs a host of senior health programs around the city. A rare well-regarded option for low-to-moderate-income New Yorkers (it’s state-subsidized), the Village hosts a religiously and ethnically mixed crowd of retired bohemians (musicians, artists) and blue-collar types (bricklayers, postal workers). Apartments resemble spacious dorm rooms, with institutional beige carpeting but nice-size windows. Residents can purchase basic daily-living assistance packages from an affiliated agency for $450 to $1,600 a month; aides are $15 an hour. Marthe Reines, a 93-year-old former office manager who’s lived there almost four years, says she values the Village’s sense of community. “You always have contact. You have your privacy, yet there’s always someone to turn to.”
305 West End Ave., at 74th St.; 212-874-5000, esplanadesenior.com
Facilities: 150 apartments, from studios to one-bedrooms.
Fees: $3,950 to $6,000 per month; entrance fee of one month’s rent.
Waiting list: None for studios; three to six months for one-bedrooms.
Proximity to Fairway, H&H Bagels, and Filene’s Basement is an oft-cited plus for residents of the Esplanade, many of them longtime Upper West Siders (and up to 90 percent of them Jewish). Décor in the former residential hotel runs to the grande dame, with marble entryways and floral carpets in communal spaces. Apartments, carpeted in plush off-white, have high ceilings and an airy feel. “The building is attractive, well kept, and clean,” says Irving Heller, a 91-year-old retired schoolteacher. “And the people are universally congenial.” Most tend to eat in the recently renovated dining room rather than on their own. Residents can hire an aide from an affiliated agency for $18 an hour or bring in their own.
Atria 86th Street
333 W. 86th St., nr. Riverside Dr.; 212-712-0200; atriaseniorliving.com
Facilities: 156 apartments, from studios to a two-bedroom penthouse.
Fees: $3,700 to $8,500 per month.
Waiting list: None.
The exhaustive social and cultural calendar at the Atria features Juilliard concerts, a 24-week course in comparative religions, Shakespearean readings, Broadway plays, museum outings, restaurant trips, and film screenings. While the apartments are nice overall, they vary quite a bit, from light-deprived studios facing an air shaft to a two-bedroom apartments with a wraparound terrace ($8,500 a month). Tenants in the 21-story prewar jockey for the brighter units on higher floors, which tend to go to longtime residents. Most residents choose to eat meals in the basement dining room—if they complain about the food, it’s usually that there’s too much. (A walk-in kitchen in the lobby serves snacks around-the-clock.) The flagship of a 130-residence chain with addresses in Long Island and Queens, Atria 86th Street won this year’s Gilbert Guide vote-of-excellence award for long-term-care facilities.
38-20 Bowne St., Flushing; 718-762-3198, flushinghouse.com
Facilities: 319 apartments, from studios to one-bedrooms.
Fees: $1,925 to $2,800 per month.
Waiting list: None for studios; one to three months for one-bedrooms.
The biggest independent-living facility on this list, Flushing House, was built as a nursing-home alternative in 1974 by United Adult Ministries, a nonsectarian nonprofit group. Geriatric-care managers say the residence is an excellent value, both for its services and the summer-camp-like environment. Outings include bus trips to museums and baseball games, and to view the Christmas lights on the homes near Jones Beach, but the most popular pastime is a version of The Dating Game, where a male resident grills three women hidden behind a curtain. (The winner gets to go on a dinner date with him.) Residents, a religiously and ethnically diverse, middle-class outer-borough and Long Island bunch, also run a drama group, book club, and news and current-events forums. “The activities are fantastic,” says Helen Hipsman, 85, a two-year resident. “You have to be on the ball the whole time—they don’t let you get old.” Common spaces are simply furnished, and apartments are spacious but not luxurious. Basic health care is offered at Flushing Hospital’s geriatric clinic on the ground floor; home-care aides are available through an on-site agency for $16 an hour.
“Louis plays nearly every night. I came here, and we started talking and we found out we came from the same neighborhood. How do you like that? We were kids together in East New York. His father had a barbershop, and my father had a dairy.”
—Fran Miraglia, 86, Lott House
The Hallmark of Battery Park City
455 North End Ave., nr. Chambers St.; 212-791-2500, thehallmark-bpc.com
Facilities: 217 apartments, from studios to two-bedrooms.
Fees: $4,600 to $10,600 per month.
Waiting list: One to 24 months, depending on the apartment.
Hallmark charges top dollar, but it works hard to earn it. Before they even move in, residents-to-be get assistance from a full-time move-in coordinator who measures their furniture and draws up a floor plan to make sure it fits, sets up phone and utilities, and arranges to have the new apartment painted or wallpapered. Most retirement homes offer art classes, but how many feature nude models? There’s also a whirlpool spa, billiards room, beauty and barber shops, an on-site bank, and an indoor swimming pool. “In one day I went to my mailbox, to the physical therapist, to the art studio—and I never left the building,” says Bea Duchowny, a resident for more than two years. “They even brought the voting here.” Apartments have well-proportioned kitchens, new fixtures, and good storage. An on-site wellness center is staffed by New York Downtown Hospital doctors and nurses; supportive services are available in four packages. Residents are “predominantly Jewish and 80 percent Democratic, liberal,” says former residents’ council president Edith Green, 81. “Though we get our fair share of Republicans.”
675 Portion Rd., Lake Ronkonkoma; 866-409-7932
Facilities: 120 apartments, from studios to one-bedrooms.
Fees: $2,865 to $4,120 per month.
Waiting list: A month.
Long Island is well served by corporate chains, but this is a small and charming nonprofit facility where residents make the most of the fourteen-acre wooded property. Raised flower beds allow gardeners to tend tomatoes and zinnias without stooping; each Saturday a walking group strolls the pathways. Furnishings in the common areas are more Ramada than Ritz, and apartments are clean and comfortable but not huge (there’s a laundry room on each floor). Hertlin House also has a hair salon, library, game room, fitness center, and arts-and-crafts studio. An internist, podiatrists, and physical therapists make site visits on a fee-for-service basis. Socially, the group is active and ecumenical (Jews go to weekly Eucharist services and Christians light Hanukkah candles). Many move here to be close to family in Suffolk County. “Some of us have kids who had the same teacher in high school,” says Virginia Francisco, 90, a Queens native who’s been a resident for three years. “I met a woman who went to the same elementary school in Woodhaven. We like to reminisce about our childhoods together.”
Sterling Glen of Rye Brook
1200 King St., Rye Brook, N.Y.; 914-939-2900, sterlingglen.com
Facilities: 166 apartments, from studios to two-bedrooms.
Fees: $4,067 to $7,400 per month; $5,500 onetime fee.
Waiting list: None.
Sterling Glen competes with high-end continuing-care retirement communities like Kendal and Cedar Crest (see “Not Your Grandfather’s Retirement Community,” page 116), but without a six-figure buy-in or intensive care guaranteed for later stages of life. Located within BelleFair, an eight-year-old gated community of single-family homes and duplexes, Sterling shares access to its host neighborhood’s indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, and basketball courts. Residents, a 60-40 split between Jews and Christians, tend to be fun-loving and social former professionals. Popular hangouts are the ice-cream parlor and a 40-seat theater. There are also karaoke nights and happy hours at a fully stocked bar. The apartments, built in 2003, have walk-in closets, kitchens with granite counters, and washer-dryers. A general practitioner, physical therapist, and podiatrist make regular visits on a fee-for-service basis. Basic living help is available through a variety of packages for an additional charge (rates vary). While it’s not a spot for those who’ll need nursing care imminently, “right down the street are a couple of excellent nursing homes—Greenwich Woods and King Street,” says Miriam Zucker, a New Rochelle–based geriatric-care manager. “They have the same upscale elegance as Sterling Glen.”
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.
Kittay House/Jewish Home & Hospital Nursing Home
2550 Webb Ave., nr. W. Kingsbridge Rd., the Bronx; 718-410-1420; kittayhouse.org
Facilities: 295 independent apartments; 816 nursing beds.
Fees: $1,584 per month for a studio to $3,048 for a one-bedroom with income restrictions.
Waiting list: None.
While the décor runs more to linoleum than marble, Kittay House is a best buy for moderate-income New Yorkers who value an energetic social scene—and appreciate having a nursing home nearby. While the 36-year-old high-rise—part of the Mitchell-Lama affordable-housing initiative—has a dormlike feel, it’s in the middle of a $9 million makeover to senior-proof kitchens and baths. (Until the redo is done next year, there’s a noticeable gap between the spruced up apartments and the rest.) Kittay House tends to attract middle-class, Jewish Democrats who debate the Times’ op-ed pages in the library; a social-action committee stages weekly antiwar street protests. Service throughout the facility is friendly, both residents and elder-care experts say. For apartment-dwellers, extra help is strictly BYO, but Kittay residents have access on a pay-as-you-go basis to rehab and other services next door at Jewish Home, a teaching nursing home affiliated with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Jewish Home’s pioneering Alzheimer’s program has won awards from groups including the New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
4. ASSISTED LIVING
Lott Assisted Living Residence, Manhattan
1261 Fifth Ave., at 108th St.; 212-534-6464, ext. 153; lottresidence.org
Facilities: 127 studio apartments.
Fees: $4,500 per month; Medicaid accepted.
Waiting list: One to two months.
Manhattan’s only assisted-living home that accepts Medicaid, Lott looks and feels a lot more like a luxury-condo development than a state-run program geared mainly to low-income seniors. As part of its assisted-living program, Lott provides help with bathing, grooming, and medication, along with five-day-a-week access to a St. Vincent’s geriatrician who consults with on-site caregivers, including a full-time social worker. (One thing the Lott team has learned to watch for: patients who downplay ailments so they don’t have to leave.) Residents are ethnically and religiously mixed; while only 10 percent of those who live here pay the full fee, all have access to the plush lobby and a fourteenth-floor dining room, where meals are served on linen-covered tables in a restaurant-like setting overlooking Central Park. Activities include Spanish and English gospel hours, a joke hour, and spelling bees. Studio apartments are small, with a mini-fridge, microwave, and full stove, but complaints are few. “I have a beautiful room with four picture windows facing Fifth Avenue and the Harlem Meer,” says Catherine O’Rourke, 89, a retired typist who’s lived there for two years. “I walk around the lake every morning.”
“I like being able to take the 22 bus, walk to the movies. The last one I saw was The Queen. I think Helen Mirren’s going to get another Oscar. She was just like Queen Elizabeth II. That mean little bitch.”
—Bea Duchowny, 86, Hallmark
Hearthstone Alzheimer Care
305 West End Ave., at 74th St.; 212-799-7100; thehearth.org
Facilities: 29 beds.
Fees: $6,000 to $8,000 per month.
Waiting list: Two to three months; you need to pay a refundable $3,000 deposit to get on the list.
Assistance here includes a special focus on Alzheimer’s disease. Located on the seventh floor of the Esplanade (see page 1; the two facilities are otherwise separate) Hearthstone has one of the industry’s highest caregiver-to-patient ratios: five to one for mild dementia and three to one for severe cases. The staff, among the best-trained in the industry, “speak Alzheimer’s,” which means, for one, never pressing a resident who can’t summon the right words. Every aspect of living here is designed to minimize confusion. The secured floor is specially shaped so that residents don’t feel trapped. Glass-enclosed memory boxes with family photos, jewelry, or war medals mark doorways and help residents find their rooms. There are trips to Riverside Park, concerts at Juilliard, and visits to MoMA where the museum’s docents are specially trained by Hearthstone staff to give tours in a way that triggers memories and conversation. Residents—retired executives, teachers, and doctors, mostly Manhattanites—live alone or in a comfortable double room with a bathroom.
5. NURSING HOMES
Cobble Hill Health Center
380 Henry St., Brooklyn; 718-855-6789, ext. 110; cobblehill.org
Facilities: 520 nursing beds.
Fees: $11,280 per month.
Waiting list: None.
Referred to as a sub-acute-care facility for its strong medical services, this 30-plus-year-old facility provides care rivaling that of many good community hospitals. Some 60 medical consultants, including oncologists and a dermatologist, make weekly rounds here, as do a slew of social workers and counselors. The Alzheimer’s unit is recognized as a model by the State Department of Health; the hemodialysis and cardiac-rehabilitation programs are also distinguished. The ethnically mixed crowd hails mainly from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and 75 percent are on Medicaid. Cobble Hill is touted by many in the industry for its commitment to “culture change.” In part, that means dividing residents and medical personnel into smaller, more personalized communities—an initiative that helped the facility win the Commissioners Award for Innovation from the New York City Department for the Aging. A $60 million overhaul of the nineteenth-century building, to begin next year, will do away with triple and quadruple rooms.
Jewish Home & Hospital
www.jewishhome.org; Manhattan Campus, 120 W. 106th St., nr. Columbus Ave.; 212-870-5000
Facilities: 520 nursing beds.
Fees: $330 a day.
Waiting list: None.
While it could be considered a poorer cousin to the Jewish Home location in the Bronx, the Manhattan facility is nevertheless considered a strong and affordable choice for those with chronic conditions like advanced heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. For those who live in Manhattan and want to keep a loved one close by, the location itself can’t be ignored—elder-care experts say patients in any facility get the best care when their family members are around to take an active role. In some ways, this home’s more progressive instincts are hobbled by its architecture. It was built as a nursing home in the early 1870s, long before the current vogue for homelike patient lounges and “barrier-free” floor plans for Alzheimer’s patients. Management is doing its best to modernize by putting dining areas on each floor, with juice machines and help-yourself refrigerators so that residents can wake and dine when they please. Residents are ethnically and economically diverse, mostly local, and, despite the facility’s name, only 43 percent Jewish; 64 percent of long-term residents are on Medicaid. General practitioners, dentists, and ophthalmologists make regular visits.
Additional reporting by Ariel Brewster, Nitasha Tiku, and Wesley Wade