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Mind the Age Gap

true romanceMichelle Rick

You notice them everywhere in Manhattan, but perhaps particularly in a slightly out-of-the-way neighborhood such as the East Village — middle-aged or older New Yorkers who look as if they have remained in the city that doesn’t sleep way past the limits of insomnia or common sense.

They seem a little lost in this International House of Cupcakes, among i-Stoned youth, galvanized immigrants, packed bars, and cafés where the music is always played at a volume whose message might as well be posted on a notice board outside — Adults Permitted, But Youth Preferred.

Aging is a delicate, unrewarding business at best, and some people — as a result of genes, outlook, resolution, and money — manage it better than others. To judge by the relative lack of oldsters in the East Village (anyone over 40 is a rarity on the streets after 9 p.m., and most of those are either homeless, comatose, or possibly dead), it’s obvious that this is one of the more trying places in which to grow old. Those who hang on must also confront the irony of living in an era in which they are constantly scolded that it is within their power to remain “young,” while being made to feel ancient almost all the time.
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Budget Cuts Put Senior Centers At Risk

Lunch at WaldRachel Ohm Lunch is served at Lillian Wald Senior Center on Avenue D on a recent afternoon. In the last year the number of lunches served at Wald has doubled to accommodate the closure of the nearby Jacob Riis Senior Center. “We don’t have enough chairs,” said Betsy Jacobson, the center’s director.

Earlier this month, the Department of the Aging released a list of 105 senior centers in the city that may be closing this year because of proposed budget cuts in Albany.

This could mean an influx of older New Yorkers into centers that remain open, fewer resources and less accessibility to services for those without transportation.

Last year, the city slated Lillian Wald Senior Center on Avenue D for closing, but it has remained open with funding from Community Council District 2 and private donations. To accommodate older East Villagers from Jacob Riis, another neighborhood center that closed, the 25 meals a day that Wald was serving last year has now more than doubled to around 50 to 55. Wald is now the only senior center in Alphabet City. “We don’t have enough chairs,” said Betsy Jacobson, the director of Wald. “We have people standing and eating and our numbers are probably going to continue to grow.”
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