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Seniorcitizens

Mae CarpenterMae Carpenter, a champion of seniors for more than 30 years, was appointed Commissioner of Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) in 2001. Prior to that, she had served as director of the county Office for the Aging, the forerunner of DSPS, since 1979. 

She is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable and innovative advocates for seniors in the United States because of her many innovative programs and ability to build and sustain coalitions of volunteers. Many people call her a visionary.

The Commissioner has testified before Congressional staff members in Washington, D.C. about what Westchester has done to meet the urgent need for family caregivers to care for the growing number of seniors in the county. She was a panelist at a forum on global aging sponsored by AARP at the United Nations and a panelist on “Creating Connected Communities for Aging Well” at Georgetown University.

The Commissioner spearheads DSPS’ two signature programs.  One is the Livable Communities: A Vision for All Ages – Bringing People and Places Together Initiative. The goal of this trailblazing and multiyear project is to improve the quality of life for people of all ages and enable seniors to live active lives with independence and dignity as they age in their homes.

Key features of livable communities are informal services provided by volunteers such as health and wellness programs, education and cultural events, safety, consumer protection and advocacy for affordable housing and safe sidewalks and roads. DSPS partnered with the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services and AARP New York to develop this project.

The second program is Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors (TIPS), which is one of the top telehealth programs in the United States. Through TIPS, computers remotely monitor seniors’ pulse, blood pressure, weight and blood oxygen levels. TIPS is called “High Tech and High Touch.  That’s because in addition to check-ups of vital signs, participants are assessed to see if they can benefit from any social services in the county.

In June 2014 the Commissioner led a conference on “Successful Aging:  It’s Everybody’s Business.” The conference brought together top names in the telehealth and aging fields.   “MAP:  My Aging Plan” is a special brochure that was developed for the conference under her leadership.  It offers step-by-step guidelines for people from their 20s to their 80s and beyond on what they can do at each age to ease their journey in areas such as finances, employment and housing. 

The Commissioner was a delegate to the National White House Conference on Aging, a catalyst for developing national policies on aging in 1981, 1995 and 2005.  At the 2005 conference, she was a leader in developing the resolution on the need for livable communities. For the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, she is leading regional programs to develop resolutions for consideration, such as ones on retirement security and long-term services and supports.

The Commissioner’s leadership has been recognized with numerous and prestigious awards over the years. Some of them are:

  • 2014 – the Westchester Women’s Hall of Fame Award presented by the Women’s Research and Education Fund for her extraordinary contributions to enhance the lives of older women. Previous winners of this award include Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state; Nita Lowey, the Westchester congresswoman, and the late Ruby Dee, the actress and human rights activist.
  • 2012 - Westchester County was one of the first seven counties or cities nationwide that AARP named to its “Network of Age-Friendly Communities” for its Livable Communities Initiative. Because of AARP’s affiliation with the United Nations’ World Health Organization, the county gained access to resources from WHO’s “Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.”
  • 2010 – DSPS won two International Livable Communities Awards in the United Nations-endorsed worldwide competition in areas that promote “best practices” such as sustaining communities, promoting healthy lifestyles and planning for the future. 
  • 2008 – Ms. Carpenter received the American Society on Aging’s ASA Award, which had traditionally been presented to a person on the national level for outstanding contributions to aging-related services and advocacy.  Ms. Carpenter was the first recipient on the local level to be honored.
Thank you for participating in the Westchester County Living at Home Elder Economic Survey.  Your entry form has been received.

An initiative that offers information and referrals for rides to people over 60, the disabled and home health care workers  – which the county’s Department of Senior Programs and Services helps to support – has  received renewed federal funding to expand its program through March 2017.

RideConnect, the alternative transportation service that received the additional funds,  is sponsored by Family Services of Westchester and most of its referrals are for rides in northern Westchester.

Individuals can schedule rides for medical appointments, shopping, cultural events, hairdresser appointments and errands. The transportation is provided by volunteers and the RideConnect bus.

The service originally operated in Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, Pound Ridge, North Salem, North Castle and Somers.  The additional funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, is permitting it to expand into Cortlandt, Ossining, Peekskill, Yorktown and New Castle. RideConnect also has a database of volunteers who can offer rides in other parts of Westchester as well.

The service is growing rapidly.  In 2012, RideConnect provided 1,000 referrals while in 2013 it provided more than 6,000.

To arrange for a ride, call RideConnect at (914) 242-7433, Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. With advance notice, rides can be scheduled on weekends as well.  Callers will speak with a transportation counselor who directs callers to the fastest, most cost-effective transportation option to meet their needs. Rides can also be requested on the RideConnect Web site at www.rideconnectwestchester.org

Program director Karen Ganis said there is an ongoing need for volunteer drivers age 21 and older in all Westchester communities. Those interested should contact her at (914) 864-0955 or .

Senior Boarding Bee-line BusTransportation was cited by wide margins as both the greatest need for Westchester County seniors today, and their greatest anticipated need in the future, according to a recent county survey.

Some 700 people responded to the federally mandated Priority Pulse survey, which the county’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) conducts.

The questions in the anonymous survey followed the same format in each category. In the “transportation” category, for example, participants were asked to indicate if they currently have “no” need for transportation or a “low,” “moderate” or “significant” need. The second question asked them to check off one of those four answers for their anticipated needs in the future.

Affordable housing was cited as their second greatest anticipated need in the future followed by income security, third; home health care services, fourth and long-term care, fifth.

The need for transportation topped both lists because many of the elderly – particularly older women – no longer are able to drive, said DSPS Commissioner Mae Carpenter.

“Their mobility is restricted,” Carpenter said. “Also, a lot of older people might have impairments which make it difficult to drive – especially at night. People don’t want to be isolated, and mobility is so important to have a good quality of life.”

Carpenter also said that surveys such as Priority Pulse are important because they highlight gaps in services and unmet needs. “These gaps can have a domino effect,” she said. “If you can’t get around, you might miss a doctor’s appointment or might not be able to pick up your medicine or buy food. These surveys help us to see where to put our shrinking dollars to have the greatest impact.”