The North Fork has long been a place retirees seek to settle, whether in a planned retirement community or in the midst of a naturally occurring community.
Southold Town, Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital and the Family Service League have partnered this year on an innovative program to help seniors living in Greenport, and the people who love them, to get the most out of life.
The partnership, called Long Island Sound Senior Care, has received $1 million in grant funding from the New York State Office for the Aging, to be used over the next five years.
Greenport, which is within Southold Town, was selected for the program because “over 50 percent of the population in Greenport is over 60,” Family Service League Senior Vice President for Programs Kathy Rosenthal told the Southold Town Board at its July 16 work session. “That’s way out of proportion for most communities in New York State.”
Ms. Rosenthal said on average 32 percent of residents in New York communities are over 60.
The state calls communities like Greenport “Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities,” known by the acronym NORCs, which are eligible for funding to provide senior programs.
Ms. Rosenthal said one of the first steps in setting up the NORC program is to get input from the community on its needs.
“We want them to come around the table and decide what the services should be,” she said. “They become part of the model in a very robust way.”
Anyone interested in joining the advisory committee or looking for help from the program can email Betty Janowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 631.333.2837.
The Family Service League is taking the lead on the program, and they’ve been provided office space both at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital and through Southold Town.
The program excludes San Simeon by the Sound and Peconic Landing because they are not naturally occurring retirement communities, and they already provide these services.
Long Island Sound Senior Care programs could range from educational seminars on health issues to health scans, transportation, meals, and caregiver support, as well as help navigating health care and social services systems.
The team includes an experienced case manager and an LPN.
“A lot of people we serve are in Greenport, and we don’t have the capacity to do a lot of what these people need,” said Southold Town Director of Human Services Karen McLaughlin.
Ms. Rosenthal said the town’s senior transportation department will be involved in Long Island Sound Senior Care, providing transportation for meals, social and recreational events, shopping and doctor’s appointments.
They can also do home visits to check on seniors who haven’t left home in a while.
“We’re looking at the graying of America,” said Ms. McLaughlin. “We’ve gotta start looking at what works at the community level. People are going to look at what we do and replicate it.”
Southold Town Councilman Jim Dinizio of Greenport is 66 years old.
“I’m more than willing to do anything you need. I’m caring for my 87-year-old mother and my father passed away four years ago with dementia,” he said. “I went around with meals, and I was taken aback that a few of my classmates need help. Anything I can do, I’m willing to spend the time on it.”