From hoarding to healthcare: CB6 holds forum on senior issues

State Senator Liz Krueger hosted a forum on senior issues.

State Senator Liz Krueger hosted a forum on senior issues.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 hosted its first forum on senior issues at the NYU Medical Center on Monday, September 15. The event was hosted by State Senator Liz Krueger, a senior issues advocate whose office annually puts out the Senior Resource Guide, and panelists who attended included Linda Whitaker from the Department for the Aging, KARPAS Health Information Center director Julie Spillman, OATS and Senior Planet Exploration Center director of programs Kimberly Brennsteiner and Elder Care Giving Senior Care Advisor Joanna Leefer.

The panelists discussed opportunities for seniors and different healthcare options available, as well as some of the problems that seniors might face. Senator Krueger opened the forum with information on one of the issues that some seniors don’t want to talk about because of the stigma: hoarding.

“You’ve lived a long time. You’ve acquired a lot of stuff. But it can be a fire risk and can exacerbate a pest problem,” she said. “The worst calls that we get are from landlords who say they’re going to evict those tenants because it’s a health and safety risk.Our golden rule is to help people keep their homes.”

The senator also discussed the complications of providing healthcare to the rapidly growing senior population in the city.

“We don’t have adequate long-term health care programs and the programs that we do have pay for too little,” she said. “When you’re trying to decide in your 50s what will be good for you, things change by the time you hit your 70s and 80s.”

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NYU Langone doctor: Flu is still bigger threat than Enterovirus D68

Michael Phillips, MD, director of infection control and prevention at NYU Langone

Michael Phillips, MD, director of infection control and prevention at NYU Langone

By Sabina Mollot

Amidst the spreading of a serious respiratory illness in 18 states so far, including New York, last week, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer urged the Center for Disease Control to provide more resources to local hospitals in the face of Enterovirus D68 as well as resources to help spread awareness about it.

Twelve children have contracted the virus in New York State so far, including one resident of New York City. There have been a total of 153 confirmed cases of the virus in 18 states between August and September 18 and the virus is suspected of causing the death of a New Jersey pre-schooler. Part of the problem, Schumer noted is that at first, the virus may appear to be a cold which can then lead to more serious symptoms that can lead to hospitalization.

However, this week, the director of infection control and prevention at NYU Langone, Michael Phillips, MD, said that while New Yorkers should always be vigilant about any threat to their health, statistically, catching the flu is still a far bigger risk than D68.

“What captures people’s attention is when there’s a new, novel infection out there, people wonder, ‘Am I and my loved ones at risk?’,” he said.

Phillips added that while conditions like D68 and even ebola are currently a cause for concern for healthcare practitioners, for the community, the hospital’s main goal is prevention the spread of the flu.

“I think the flu for sure is a constant and has a devastating toll in the community,” he said. “We have vaccines and they’re underutilized. We had an unpredictable season last year and one of the things you can say about the flu each year is that it’s unpredictable.”

Last year, what was unusual in flu patterns was that people were coming down with it late in the season, even April, as much as they were around the holidays. Then, there was an outbreak of measles in the spring, and, noted Phillips, there’s always a risk of transmission when people aren’t getting immunized.

While some people are wary of getting the flu shot, Phillips is a staunch believer in its effectiveness.

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