Adviser Fall 2018 Vol 1 - Page 28

Seniors Thrive in ArchCare Program Where Time Is Money 27 WITH its unusually high rate of senior poverty and aging immigrant population, New York City urgently needs interventions to engage socially isolated elders in their communities and help them live active, meaningful lives as they age in place. The dearth of assistance for those who can no longer participate in community- based programs takes an especially heavy toll in neighborhoods like the South Bronx and Lower East Side, where as many as one in three seniors lives alone. For them, social isolation and loneliness cause more than unhappiness. Seniors who live in isolation are at greater risk of cognitive decline, depression, malnutrition and other health problems. They are also more likely to delay seeking medical care, which inevitably leads to higher rates of avoidable hospitalizations and nursing home placements. Since 2014, the healthcare system of the Archdiocese of New York, known as ArchCare, has employed a novel form of banking to draw thousands of at-risk seniors out of isolation, connect them with needed supports and renew their sense of dignity and purpose – all at no monetary cost. Known as “timebanking,” the pioneering approach has proven remarkably effective in helping seniors feel less isolated, more connected to their community and more comfortable seeking and accepting the help they need. The ArchCare TimeBank, which today has nearly 2,000 members across the city, is founded on an innovative service exchange model that connects people who need assistance with volunteers in their neighborhoods who have the time, energy and skills to help them. TimeBank is no garden-variety volunteer program, however. It is an alternative economy in which time replaces currency and all citizens have the opportunity both to give and receive services. Every hour of service a TimeBank member contributes earns an hour of credit that can be redeemed for help at any time from any other member. In the TimeBank economy, all hours have equal value regardless of the services being exchanged. For seniors, TimeBank is a gateway to the support they need to continue living safely in the community. Their fellow members provide companionship; pick up prescriptions; escort neighbors to doctor visits; help with shopping, cooking and light housekeeping; and share language, crafts and computer skills. Even the frail can contribute something in return, whether it’s knitting blankets or making crafts, writing birthday and get-well cards or simply calling other members to let them know that someone is thinking of them. “Members give what they can, when they can, knowing that their fellow members will be there for them when they need it,” says ArchCare TimeBank Director Mashi Blech. “We serve as a safety net for seniors and others who are vulnerable, providing access to services they might not otherwise be able to afford and showing them that despite whatever challenges they may face, they are still needed and have much to give.” Adviser a publication of LeadingAge New York | Fall 2018