At 102, Levanthal Has Seen It All
By Noah C. Zuss
Sally Levanthal is 102 years old.
She lived through the Great Depression, World War II and the tumultuous
civil rights era. Besides the sheer accomplishment of turning 100,
Ms. Levanthal lived through nearly the entire 20th century, among
the most dynamic in recorded history.
Levanthal with her home health worker.
Her lifetime of experiences has meant the world to her. She speaks
fondly and often of her family. Most have passed on, but many also
live on. Florida is where her daughter lives with her husband. Her
daughter Madeline Siegel is nearly 70 years old.
Sally celebrated her 102nd year recently-surrounded by her friends
at the Scheuer House of Flushing where she now lives.
Sally has resided at the senior living facility since 1989 and has
made an impression on everyone there. She is noted as much for her
independent streak as for being the eldest resident.
Roneet Wolf, program coordinator for the residence, said that until
she turned 99 Sally did most things by herself.
“It wasn’t until she turned 100 that she asked for home
care,” she said. “Until then she was still very independent.”
If only we all could be so fortunate to function so well into older
Speaking softly while seated in her wheelchair, Sally reflected
on her loved ones, “I loved my family so much. Through the
years you lose people, but I still remember all of them.”
Even though age has changed her, Sally hasn’t forgotten her
beloved family. She says this is what has sustained her and kept
her so healthy.
“I always got strength from my family. They always were there
for me and I tried to remain in their lives as much as I could.
Doing things for them, caring for them, that was my way of being
a good person.”
Gloria Johnson, a longtime friend to Sally and part- time employee
at Scheuer House, lights up when Sally is mentioned. She speaks
fondly of her often.
“Me and Sally have been friends for many years. She is still
so full of life. I am inspired by her and I love being around because
she is a great person with so much experience.”
To remain healthy through our senior years, doctors recommend regular
examinations, prescribed medications and resting often. But nothing
can replace a healthy attitude. This is something Sally, and fellow
centenarian Arthur Meyer, have in common.
Meyer, also a member of the exclusive club, was raised in Brooklyn,
and recently celebrated his 100th birthday.
“I was born in Brooklyn and went to Canarsie High School,”
he said. “I remember back then they were just finishing building
the subway out to my neighborhood when I was young. It was a great
time to be alive.”
Meyer worked as a fur salesman in downtown Brooklyn for many years.
He said he misses going to Junior’s for pastrami sandwiches
and, of course, cheesecake.
He credits his work ethic, determination to succeed and never giving
up for living so long.
“I was in the Army in World War II, and all these guys I was
with worried about dying a lot. It never bothered me. I figured
that if I was careful and determined enough I would be fine.”
Turns out he was right.
Handling Memory Loss At Parker Jewish
By Juliet Werner
As Director of the Granat Alzheimer Center at the Parker Jewish
Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, Martha Wolf has heard
many stories. But one about a married couple who pledged to have
breakfast together every morning has stood the test of time.
“They kept to having breakfast every morning together,”
Wolf said. “Then one morning, he went downstairs and his wife
did not make the toast the way she normally makes it. The next morning
it happened again. He knew something wasn’t quite right.”
activity at Parker. For more information, call (718) 289-2105.
He eventually came to Parker Jewish Institute, in New Hyde Park,
“That’s how subtle it can be,” Wolf said, adding
that abnormal behavior may simply be the result of new medication.
Parker started the Granat Alzheimer Center 18 years ago to help
lessen the burden on caregivers.
“Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is 24/7,”
Wolf said. “There is no break.”
Alzheimer’s is a progressive and degenerative disease that
attacks the brain resulting in impaired memory, thinking and behavior.
The disease, which affects nearly 4 million Americans, can eventually
work its way into sections of the brain that control intellectual
and physical functioning. The ultimate cause of death is typically
pneumonia or some other infectious disease.
The Center offers personal, individualized care, including toileting,
eating, bathing and grooming. The program also offers cognitive
stimulation, socialization and physical activity.
Wolf said the staff seeks to reduce stress for caregivers and family
members by offering transportation and keeping the hours of operation
long. (The Center is open Mon. through Fri. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and
Saturdays and holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Parker is privately funded, but financial subsidies and scholarships
are available to qualifying families. The care is also reimbursed
through long-term care insurance.
The New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association’s
Web site, www.alznyc.org, provides a great deal of free information
and offers a 24-hour helpline (800) 272-3900, available in 10 different
languages. It also sponsors a monthly support group meeting in Queens
called, “Understanding Dementia,” held at the Samuel
According to Jed Levine, Director of Programs and Services at Alzheimer’s
Association NYC, by 2050, there will be between 11 million and 16
million Americans with Alzheimer’s.
“We estimate that by 2050 1 in every 5 New Yorkers will have
Alzheimer’s or will be caring for someone with Alzheimer’s,”
Levine said, attributing these staggering numbers to the aging baby
boom population, which will lead to “two generations of older
Wolf said families should be sensitive when asking loved ones to
report back about their time at the Parker Jewish Institute’s
Granat Alzheimer Center.
“If they’re here they’re going to have a stimulating,
enjoyable safe day,” Wolf said. “Whether they remember
it when they leave is not really an issue and sometimes caregivers
get a little upset about that. They were healthy, safe and active
and you were able to have an enjoyable day. To keep asking frustrates
the person and then frustrates the caregiver.”
One should, however, question doctors closely.
“If a doctor says, ‘Oh, you’re just getting older,’
that’s not acceptable,” Wolf said. “Then you go
see someone else.”
Aging Veterans Well Taken Care Of
By Noah C. Zuss
In America, caring for aging former soldiers is a top priority.
Those that served in the Armed Forces often pay the ultimate price.
For the 24 million veterans alive today, help can be found at the
The mission of the VA to care for aging veterans, as described by
Doris Quijano, geriatric extended care coordinator for the Eastern
region, “is to keep patients in the least restrictive environment
for care so we can support them and make sure they are safe.”
One of these many programs is located right in Queens, in our own
In St. Albans, the VA oversees an adult day care healthcare program
that supports patients that otherwise would be forced to live in
a nursing home.
The VA is the second largest of 15 Cabinet departments and operates
nationwide programs for health care, financial assistance and burial
Nearly three-quarters of all veterans served during a war or an
official period of conflict. About a quarter of the nation’s
population, approximately 74.5 million people, are potentially eligible
for VA benefits and services because they are veterans, family members
or survivors of veterans.
The responsibility to care for veterans is immense and long lasting.
Three children of Civil War veterans still draw VA benefits. About
232 children and widows of Spanish-American War veterans still receive
VA compensation or pensions.
The challenges faced by this aging population are myriad. People
are living longer in general, veterans included. As this group grows
older, the VA has expanded services to provide care for these men
To care for this aging population, the VA administers massive programs
that deliver comprehensive services for veterans. Taking care of
this country’s former soldiers and Armed Services personnel
is a massive duty.
As this population ages, they will demand quality medical services
and benefits in return for their service. From routine medical check-ups
to providing home care services, VA says it is ready to deliver.
“At VA hospitals and care centers across the country we serve
over 1,000 veterans a day,” said Doris Quijano, geriatric
extended care coordinator for the region.
“The Veterans Administration is committed to supporting patients
in their community. Most older patients, no matter what type of
case, want to remain in their homes. We always try to listen to
patients because they always want to be in the home, so we do our
best to facilitate that.”
To accomplish their mission to provide excellent services to this
aging population, the VA oversees a comprehensive system of care.
From homemaker assistance programs to palliative and nursing home
care services, the VA has made compassion for older veterans a major
The VA’s fiscal year 2007 spending is projected to be over
$80 billion, including $34.9 billion for health care, $41.5 billion
for benefits, and $160.7 million for the national cemetery system.
President Bush sought $87 billion in the fiscal year 2008 budget
for VA, a 77 percent increase during his presidency.
Senior Center Hosts Wii Bowling Tournament
By BRAD GROZNIK
The sound of strikes and spares clattered throughout halls of the
Hillcrest Senior Center Friday in Jamaica, except the alleys, gutters
and pins were all virtual.
“This place is too small for a real bowling alley,”
Lester Szymanski, program manager at the center said.
In reality the senior center bought a Nintendo Wii (pronounced “we”),
a game console that has its players get out of their seat and mimic
that they are actually in a bowling alley.
Delapaz competes in the Hillcrest Senior Center’s Wii
Bowling Tournament Friday.
For one week the seniors practiced before a tournament was held
“I love it,” competitor Florinda Delapaz said. “I
love the exercise—it gets me out of my chair.”
The center lost much of its programming last year due to budget
strains. Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) secured $30,000
from his discretionary funds for a year-long Healthy Aging Initiative
that brought back many of the popular activities but added a multimedia
room with two computers, a flat-screen television and the Wii.
“At a time when many senior centers are faced with budget
cuts and even the threat of closure, it’s important that we
remind people how important these institutions are for the health
and happiness of our elders,” Gennaro said at the tournament.
“The funds I’m giving the Hillcrest Senior Center for
its Healthy Aging Initiative will be used to promote good eating
and exercise to keep bodies healthy and minds sharp. Today’s
Wii Bowling tournament is just one example among many of the great
things we’re doing here.”
The initiative encourages healthy eating and exercise. For 67-year-old
Linda Hojilla, the Wii hardly needs an incentive to play.
“It’s just really exciting,” she said. “It
No competitor said it was difficult to learn to play the futuristic
“The Healthy Aging Initiative is the future of senior services
and a model for the entire country to follow,” Szymanski said.
”With it our center is better and our members are happier;
Councilman Gennaro’s funding is helping create changes that
we could only dream of just a few years ago.”
Dee Rao Walker volunteers her time at the senior center and runs
a variety of non-video game programming with the help of other volunteers,
from weight training; music therapy; dancing; tai chi to nutritional
“These programs are good for the soul,” she said. “Singing
brings back their memory and dancing helps their heart.”
The winner of the senior bowling tournament Friday, Martin Schwartzbaum,
received a gift certificate for dinner for four at Annam Brahma,
84-43 164th St., a nearby vegetarian restaurant.
For more information on the Hillcrest Senior Center, 168-01 Hillside
Ave. in Jamaica, call (718) 297-7171.
Investing In Queens Since Day One
Mount Sinai Hospital cemented its long-standing commitment to the
borough of Queens with the purchase of Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens
in June 1999. This hospital has served the community of western
Queens for almost 100 years, first as Daly’s Astoria Sanatorium,
then Astoria General Hospital and Western Queens Community Hospital,
and now as Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens.
Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens is the first and only community hospital
to bear the prestigious Mount Sinai name. The Hospital’s overarching
goal has been to combine the medical excellence of the Mount Sinai
Hospital with the compassionate, caring environment you expect from
a community hospital.
Today, Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens, a 235-bed licensed acute
care facility, provides adult medical and surgical services, with
a team of nearly 400 voluntary physicians representing 36 specialties.
Between the physicians and staff, 50 languages are spoken, just
one of the many ways that Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens serves
the needs of the culturally diverse population in our community.
Sinai Hospital has served Queens for nearly 100 years.
In addition to the main hospital setting, the hospital serves the
community through family health associates –providing both
primary and specialty care; Mount Sinai Queens physician associates
- providing primary and specialty care to adults; ambulatory surgery
center - a hospital-based outpatient surgery center; and workplace
wellness - providing the business community with facilitated access
to a wide range of hospital services, occupational health and wellness
In keeping with Mount Sinai’s tradition of ongoing research,
achievement and reinvestment in the community, Mount Sinai Hospital
of Queens continues to grow. In total, the hospital reinvested more
than $30 million to improve facilities and upgrade technology including:
Emergency department optimization; in addition to a complete physical
renovation of the Emergency Department, the first Electronic Medical
Record system in a direct patient-care environment was implanted
at Mount Sinai Hospital Queens. This means that Emergency Department
systems are paperless and interface with the Hospital’s other
clinical information systems. This improves patient care through
efficient and more complete access to the patient data they need.
The Stroke Center Designation; Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens was
designated a stroke center by the New York State Department of Health.
The hospital had participated in a pilot program to determine the
effectiveness of early recognition and treatment of stroke. Key
elements of the program include educating emergency services personnel
about the signs of stroke and how to conduct a pre-hospital assessment,
as well as designating specific hospitals as stroke treatment centers.
The stroke treatment centers follow specific protocols when evaluating
and treating stroke patients. Screening community residents for
stroke risk and educating them about stroke warning signs augment
the program’s clinical components.
Imaging Expansion and Upgrade; Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens has
opened a brand new imaging center conveniently located on the first
floor. This attractive, state-of-the-art center houses Mount Sinai
Queens’ MRI and second CT scan so that the community has easy
access to the latest imaging advances. This is an enhancement to
its existing imaging modalities - mammography, sonography/echocardiography,
nuclear medicine and traditional x-ray. In addition, Mount Sinai
Queens is also totally filmless with the implementation of PACS
Focus on the Elderly; Mount Sinai Queens is part of NICHE, Nurses
Improving Care for Health System Elders, a nationwide effort developed
to meet the needs of acutely ill older patients and their families,
and to promote best practices and geriatric nursing in acute-care
settings. The specific program model Mount Sinai Queens is emulating
is called ACE, for Acute Care of the Elderly. Key elements of the
program are pressure ulcer prevention, fall prevention and focused
A Labor/Management Partnership; The goal of BEST, Building Excellence
for Success Together, is to make Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens
a great place to work, a great place to get care and a great place
to practice medicine. This exciting initiative includes all staff
and introduces tools like hourly rounding on patients, reward and
recognition programs and enhanced communication - all to enhance
employee and patient satisfaction.
This year, the hospital launched Get Healthy Queens, a program designed
to empower people to take control of their health. Get Healthy Queens
focuses on lifestyle changes and the necessity of good healthcare,
giving people simple, easily accomplished steps to follow.
The program is supported by Mount Sinai Queens’ series of
useful and informative lectures, screenings, and workshops. These
events are communicated to the community through newspaper ads and
a quarterly calendar mailed to over 70,000 households.
Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens is committed to creating an environment
that is comforting to patients and is conducive to the delivery
of high quality care. Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens is also committed
to preserving what makes Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens so special:
the quality of caring provided by the staff, the family atmosphere
and easy accessibility and convenience.