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Published by Halston Media, 2020-03-05 14:15:34

Boomers & Beyond 03.05.20

MARCH 5, 2020

A Special Supplement
to Halston Media

& Beyond





MT. KISCO, NY 10549


support groups
Don’t go rough cancer alone

W hat’s the rst thing most of BY BARBARA CERVONI • When sharing tough feelings or experiences, it
us do when we have a prob- CONTRIBUTING WRITER is very soothing and empowering to have someone
lem to solve or a challenge to by your side pass you a tissue or o er a reassuring
overcome? Look it up online,of course. e in- WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT OFFLINE pat on the arm.
ternet is a wondrous and incredibly useful thing CONNECTIONS
in so many ways. It puts vast amounts of in- • While going through cancer, there are times
formation at our ngertips. It helps us keep ere are many online opportunities to interact you need to cry and times you need to laugh.A sup-
in touch with far- ung family and friends. with other cancer survivors in a virtual sense: Face- port group is a safe place to do both.
book groups, chat rooms, online support groups. But
But in spite of all the internet has even if you’re making use of these tools,there are im- • It is very freeing to step away from the computer
to o er, the “o ine” connections we portant bene ts you can get from a face-to-face sup- and go somewhere to leave behind the distractions
make are often the most valuable port group that are missing from online connections: of home and work, to sit in a room with other
women who care and really get it.It o ers respite or
and life-changing, especially when • Spending time in person with other women who escape, a time and a place just for you.
dealing with the fallout from a have experiences like yours—seeing their bald heads,
cancer diagnosis. And a face to their scars, their new wigs, their lymphedema wraps, YOU WON’T KNOW UNLESS YOU TRY
face support group is designed to their newly grown back hair—immediately tells you Whether you grew up in the internet era or jumped
help you do exactly that: connect you’re not alone. It is powerful and validating.
with other humans like you. SEE SUPPORT GROUPS PAGE 8
• Emotions are displayed in a person’s voice, on
their face, in their gestures or posture. You don’t see
or hear that in online communication. It leaves out
part of the story.


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A beautiful


he golden years, even if spent living alone, don’t an animal is counting on them; they get out, walk and interact with

have to be lonely. Many dogs and cats need homes, other people,” said Executive Director Susan Kurowski. She added

and in Northern Westchester, there are plenty of that recent studies point to isolation and loneliness as epidemic
options—and assistance—for older residents to adopt a furry among older adults, the e ects of which can take a toll on health.

friend to love. Pet companionship can be a real bene t to one’s overall well-being

According to a national organization called “Pets for the by helping to combat those feelings.

Elderly,” whose dual mission is to nd homes for animals in Several local rescue organizations are addressing this important

shelters and to give the gift of companionship to older people, issue by o ering special programs for seniors. Bringing a pet home

the bene ts are enormous. may seem di cult because of the cost of the animal’s upkeep, vet-

“Seniors with pets generally take better care of themselves when erinary bills and boarding, especially for those on xed incomes.


One of them is Rescue Right, a dog and cat rescue/sanctu- ful of their own physical limitations, in order to
ary located in Bedford, that o ers a “permanent foster” option choose an appropriate breed and size, and also
for seniors, explained its founder, Penny Smith-Berk. should be aware of any rules regarding pets in their
housing situation.
“ is is something I am very involved with—as social net-
works shrink for senior citizens, I want to give them a won- Smith-Berk recommends an initial visit to a lo-
derful source of company and love,” she said. “All they have to cal shelter to determine a good t for adoption—
do is provide the animal with food and love, and if anything one that is best suited for the lifestyle of a particu-
medical comes up, we will take care of it.” Rescue Right also lar senior—be it a cat or a dog, and to discuss the
provides a 50 percent discount on boarding, should the owner di erent issues that may come up after the four-
need to be away from their pet. legged friend enters its new home.

Longtime Mahopac residents Bill and Maryann McCor- With the special human-animal bond that pro-
mack adopted their Chihuahua named Chi Chi from Love of vides pet-owners with unconditional love, compan-
Animals, a local rescue organization in their town. ionship and physical activity, it is no wonder that
adoption by residents in their later years is some-
Bill McCormack said that after raising ve children—who thing that is roundly recommended by the rescue
now have children of their own, he and his wife felt ready to community and by families alike.
take in a new dog.
Speaking of the love he and his wife have for Chi Chi,
“Getting Chi Chi changed our life,” he said. “ e enjoyment Bill McCormack said that a dog “replaces something in
and peace of mind we get from her, I think it extends our life.” your life that you don’t have anymore—it’s like getting
family back in your house again.”
Of course, it is important for senior citizens to assess the
feasibility of bringing an animal home. ey must be mind-

Local rescues:

Mahopac: Love of Animals Rescue and Adoption Yorktown: Recycled Paws Rescue, Inc Pets f�Ph�oetoEsldcoeurlryteFsyouonfdation
Bedford: Rescue Right, Inc. Bedford Hills: A New Chance Animal Rescue

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• Past Chair of Elder Law Section of NYS Bar Association


Managing Member • Fluent in Italian



Stuck in the m
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Helpful services

When my parents began dealing with limited mobility and stopped driving, they signe

• Home grocery delivery through Peapod by Stop and Shop • Landscaping service
• Home delivery of their prescriptions with a local pharmacy • Housecleaning service
• Post Office box rental (I would either drive them to it or I • A neighbor helped with b
would check the box. This became helpful when frequent the street and back twice
hospitalizations required them to be away from home so that • I cooked for my parents,
they wouldn’t worry about mail accumulating in their box on that, we would have defini
the street.) Wheels.”
• Visits from our church’s outreach program members • Home renovations: We h
• Plow service make it accessible.


middle with you
ation’ has unique n ds


Sandwich Generation: What a cute label for Many of them are caring for elderly parents, working full- phases of the planning process. My mother-in-law outlived

ple who are living in the middle of their parents time jobs, parenting/grandparenting, and trying hard not my father-in-law. She made a plan for herself to sell her

their children. When things are good, living in to be the ones who need the help themselves. e Hudson home and move into a senior community with independent

can be a wonderful place. ere are multigenera- Valley has twice the national average of people over 60 ac- apartments, 24-hour skilled nursing and everything in be-

ogethers on a Sunday, grandparents who eagerly cording to the New York State Department of Aging. tween. Even though the planning was well structured, her

ol plays and concerts and maybe even extended My friend, Brenda, is obviously not alone. Many of our end-of-life illness was di cult on her. She su ered a lot.We

ions. friends are in similar situations. My husband and I helped all did. But, we were able to focus on her social-emotional

n things are not going well, living in the middle all four of our parents through their end-of-life journeys. It care and not worry about her medical and legal decisions.

you’re really being squeezed like chicken salad was an incredibly stressful time. When we began to devote is type of plan is not a good t for everyone. My

e’s never enough time. a lot of our time to the caring for our parents, our daughter mother chose to remain in her own home. is required

dest part of all of this is that there just aren’t was 5 years old. She spent many hours attending doctor’s a detailed logistical plan that needed to change frequently

rs in the day,” my friend Brenda said to me over appointments, visiting hospitals, helping with “Grammie based on her advancing needs. We stumbled through ar-

from her home in a neighboring hamlet. “My and Da” and reading to Grandmother. ere were good rangements for her appointments, grocery shopping, social

me and my job needs me. Mark and I each took days and bad days. e fact that each of our parents had a isolation, and her fear of being alone.

ys last week when my mom fell. We’ve only got detailed elderplan made the bad days much less stressful. To meet the needs of our aging population in the area, e

l day left each. We want to take Jake on a college Salvatore DiCostanzo, an elder law and estate planning Westchester Alliance is a partnership between the Westches-

know how we’re going to manage to get away.” attorney in Yorktown Heights said,“Taking the time to plan ter County Dept of Senior Programs and Services and area

55. She’s feeling worn out, anxious and over- for eventualities well in advance of the need is key. When universities that infuses age-related programs into the curric-

Her mother, who is 84, lives ve miles away in her you have an elder law attorney’s team on your sideline, it ulum. e Alliance’s goal is to develop college majors focused

Brenda and her husband maintain her mother’s alleviates stress when a crisis occurs. We can then handle on careers needed by our aging population, particularly the

her grocery shopping, to doctor’s appointments, things with more strength and courage when the crisis hits. frail elderly. In doing this, the Alliance is meeting a critical

ds, and church. Without the plan, the stress level makes it di cult to make need for residents of advanced age and will also provide the

g to 2020 US Census projections, approximate- good decisions quickly.” potential of job security for a younger workforce.

n people in the United States are Baby Boom- Advanced planning addresses many issues including - Mae Carpenter, Westchester County Commissioner of

Boomers were born between the years 1944- nances, home renovations to accommodate physical needs, the Department of Senior Programs and Services said,“ e

means they are now between the ages of 55-75. pros and cons of assisted living facilities, sibling disagree- shortage of workers to care for the rapidly aging popula-

ments about “what’s best for mom,” etc. tion is already at the crisis level and could worsen greatly

DiCostanzo added: “An elder law attorney will build a in coming years. Like the Westchester Alliance, we must

relationship with your family to create a plan. en, when all be pro-active and forward-thinking. We cannot ignore

ed-up for the following services: an elder care emergency happens, that plan is ready to the gravity of this situation and become a society that asks

implement.” ‘what happened?’ when older people have fallen though the

Many seniors are living on xed incomes and many safety net.”

adult children are living paycheck to paycheck, while try- It’s good to know that Westchester County and area

bringing their garbage pail out to ing to save for their children’s education. at’s when hon- colleges are planning for this workforce shortage. How-
a week est discussions are critical. ever, some of us are in the thick of it right now. When I
, but if I had been unable to do
itely looked into “Meals on My husband and I helped our parents with appoint- nally had to admit that this sandwich was being pressed
ments, medical/legal planning, health care decisions, driv- too tightly and we just couldn’t balance it all by ourselves
ing, day to day care and nancial planning. In our experi- anymore, we worked with local professionals and services to

had a ramp built on their home to ence, each of the parents we cared for were in di erent help. And that’s exactly what we got.

I n 1960,the year of my Bar Mitzvah,Bronx handwriting and poor spelling and I was struggling
Science,my soon to be high school,got its with writing my doctoral dissertation when we
rst computer. When I attended, access bought an Apple IIGS. With it, we both found we

divide to that IBM 650 was limited to the most worthy could write legibly and have our spelling corrected
of students,which I was not.So,no access.Upon on the spot. Although it was awkward to save all
being accepted into CCNY Engineering School our work on three and a half-inch oppy discs that
in 1965, I was thrilled to learn I would be inter- had to be carefully labeled so Daryl’s creative fourth
acting with a Librascope Royal McBee LGP. I grade stories did not appear in my work.

was awestruck by the reel to reel tapes and piles As my career as an educator evolved, putting

Em acing changing technology of punch cards fed into it. However, I found the computers in classrooms became a vital tool. My
entering of information on punch cards was te- favorite story was watching two of my very dif-

dious and boring and learning to program it did ferent students at a computer terminal learning to

BY NORM FREIMARK not motivate me to become an engineer. play ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”
“2001: A Space Odyssey”showed me how tech- One student was clearly able to use the program

nology can be our friend or our but he was often shunned at the

enemy as when HAL re- SEE TECHNOLOGY
fused to open the pod door. PAGE 9

My son struggled with

the inherited traits of poor

Welcom t Putna Ridge SUPPORT GROUPS funny and we could talk about anything.”
3.“Face to face communication and phys-
• Lon -Ter Car FROM PAGE 3
• Shor -Ter Rehabilitatio ical touch like hugs are irreplaceable. Some
• Adul Da Car in with both feet at a later age,the concept of women bravely showed their scars and that
• Secure Memor Car a face to face support group may seem hard was a precious piece of information for those
to grasp or even dated. contemplating di erent types of surgery.”
But consider this instead: perhaps you 4. “I would be able to get more infor-
46 M . Eb Roa Nort , Brewster, NY • PutnamRidg .co don’t know what you’re missing because you mation online, but the support groups are
never gave it a try. the best way to get the human interaction.
@PutnamRidgeReha • @PutnamRidgeNY Nothing else is as helpful.”
To help you understand why you should
Refreshin Alternati of Car try, we asked some women who were avid 5.“ ere is something about sitting down
participants in Support Connection’s Young and actually talking with my ‘sisters’ that re-
Women’s Support Group. ey all make ally met a need I had; I don’t think technol-
great use of the internet and various forms ogy can substitute for that.”
of online guidance, but they still feel strongly
that a face to face support group was essen- FIND A GROUPTHAT WORKS FOR YOU
tial for them and their recovery. Support Connection has a variety of face

Here’s why they feel that way,in their own to face support groups for women with breast
words: ovarian or gynecological cancer that meet in
di erent locations, at di erent times. Find all
TO FACE GROUPS support-groups.To gure out what works best
for you, call 800-532-4290 and speak to one
1. “ ere is no better feeling than coming of Support Connection’s Peer Counselors.
home after sitting face to face with women
who truly understand what you are going Barbara Cervoni, LMSW, ACSW, is the
through and are there for you.” director of Services and Communication at
Support Connection, Inc.
2.“I could cry and take o my wig without
even thinking about it. No one looked at me


TECHNOLOGY FROM PAGE 8 when I run into someone who does not use the 5 questions wi
a seasoned citizen
internet to communicate or satisfy their curiosity.

basketball games during recess. e other was a star It has become so much easier than when I walked

athlete but he he was having trouble grasping the com- into CCNY’s air-conditioned computer room and

puter. ey reached an agreement that led to a friend- stared at spinning reels and piles of punch cards.

ship. e computer-wise student would teach the I don’t need oppy discs as everything is now in Interview with Eleanor Schwartz, written by Sarah Gayden

athlete how to play “Where in the World is Carmen a cloud I cannot even see. I can write something How old are you?

Sandiego?”and the athlete would choose the computer on my computer and look at it later on my phone. I turned 80 in January. Psycho- like my sister and me.
logically, that number makes me
whiz to play on his basketball team. I saw computers Communication on the computer has allowed me feel old. So I try not to think about Whats’ some ing at bugs you?
it. When I turned 80, I said, “holy
as a medium for learning and enhancing relationships. to reconnect with friends thousands of miles away smokes! at’s scary.” Sometimes in the supermarket the
checkout person will say, “do you want
Technology has proven to be my friend for the with whom I lost contact 50 years ago. e GPS on How do you k p yourself active? me to put that in 3 bags?” As if I can’t
lift one. at makes me feel incompe-
last several decades.Without it, I never would have my car and phone allows me to get anywhere with- I just do mundane things. I go tent because in actuality I do have very
to the market or go shopping at TJ good upper body strength, so it’s not a
nished my dissertation even if I once forgot to out getting lost. I can ask Alexa to play the perfect Maxx. I try to visit my sister once problem for me to lift a heavy bag. It
a week. Every couple of weeks, I makes me question how youthful I feel
save my laboriously entered data on Columbia’s music for the moment without touching a tape,LP, visit my son and his family down when they want to treat me like I’m
in the city. People say “You still in rm. Sometimes I kid around and
mainframe computer and contemplated blowing or CD or even get out of my easy chair. drive?” And I say, “Ha! Why not?!” say, “I lift weights at the gym!”

up the computer lab even though it was my failure Seniors,who might feel a sense of isolation can use What are your greatest joys? Do you have any advice f
o er experienced citizens?
to hit the save button! computers to Facetime with grandchildren who are

With a computer I was able to administer a health half a world away. If for no other reason than staying

plan from my home for seven years, accessing docu- in touch with loved ones, any senior who is not tech-

ments and data, creating newsletters, participating nology savvy should invest in a laptop and a smart-

in teleconferences and doing analyses and research. phone and an Echo (Alexa) and discover a whole

Now that the ubiquitous cell phone has replaced the new world at their ngertips or voice command.

pager, I no longer have to nd a phone booth to an- Classes are o ered at Heritage Hills and local

swer every page I received while on the road. libraries to make their usage easy. I haven’t asked

Today I use technology to organize tennis Alexa to open any pod doors for me yet, but I am My grandchildren. One just I would suggest that if people are

games, research anything that strikes my curiosity, sure it could be done if I wanted. turned 3 and the other will be 7 in in good health, to try to be as self-

plan vacations, pay bills and I have begun to write Embrace the technology and enjoy the world it August. ey’re 3.5 years apart, just su cient as possible. And have a pet.

an historical ction novel. I am always amazed, o ers us boomers!


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The weight of the world
At 78, Mike Palen’s weightlifting feats have reached astonishing heights

Mike Palen can lift 855 pounds. Let’s put that into BY BOB DUMAS “I decided to go to the Y where they had real profes-
perspective. A concert grand piano weighs near- CONTRIBUTING EDITOR sional equipment and develop myself. at where I dis-
ly 950 pounds. covered I liked competition,” Palen said.
Pretty impressive, right? But wait—there’s more. trips on their bikes from Crestwood to a Mount Vernon
Palen is 78 years old. sporting goods store to pick up weights and bring them Palen’s idol was Tommy Kono, an American gold-
e longtime Mahopac resident, who grew up in the back to his garage. His friends started coming over, bringing medal Olympian, who, back in the ’50s, set world records
Crestwood section of Yonkers, has been lifting weights their weights, too. He wound up with about 2,000 pounds in four di erent weight classes.
since he was 12 years old. of weights in his dad’s garage. Eventually, those friends gave
up weightlifting. But Palen never did. Today, he still has all “He was the one I wanted to be,” Palen said. “I would
“I developed my own dumbbells from cement footings those weights in his garage in Mahopac—all 2,000 pounds. compete in my head with his totals. My friends told me
that were in a picnic table that my father had made,” he that I should get into it because I was doing stu no one
said. “I put them together with a bar in the middle.” “I was small in stature, but I was a scrapper,” he said. “I else was doing. I started doing it competitively—lifting
was known as a small kid who could take care of himself.” 150, pressing 150, eventually doing a lot more than my
Like many young boys, Palen gravitated toward ath- body weight. I was doing totals that were close to Olympic
letics—he played football at Stepinac High School—but His older brother was a star football player and Palen standards, so my dream was to make it to the Olympics.”
weightlifting, for reasons he can’t quite put his nger on, felt the pressure to live up to his sibling’s reputation. But
seemed to call him. he ended up breaking his leg twice and said it was prob- Palen even won a few trophies, but he eventually de-
ably because he was trying too hard to live up to expecta- cided that the rigid rules and techniques required in com-
“Back in those days, bodybuilding was kind of tions. When Palen takes on a challenge, he doesn’t shirk. petitive lifting weren’t for him.
shunned,” he said. “It didn’t become popular until later
on. But I found instant results.” “But I think I was asking too much of my body at that “I had good brute force, but trouble with the rules of
point,” he said. the lift,” he explained. “It’s very technical. When you do a
He was so motivated that he and a friend made several clean and jerk, you have to pause with the weight at your
He joined the Air Force in 1962 and continued his
weightlifting endeavors while in the service. When he
got out, he began to lift competitively.


shoulders for a certain amount of time and “I found that weight pating gyms. pounds is light. Now I can lift 855 pounds

wait for the judge to clap and then you go training kept me stron- “ is got me out of o the rack, my personal best this year.

up. I was able to do it, but on a couple of ger than normal, more the garage and back People tell me I should look it up in the

occasions the lift didn’t count. ere were able to play sports to the gym,” he said. Book of Guinness World Records. A lot

a lot of technicalities that I didn’t like.” later into life,” he said. rough Silver of kids just stand around and watch me. I

And something else happened along “I played softball into Sneakers, he joined love to give advice if they ask.”

the way that derailed Palen’s weightlifting my 50s and played vol- the New York Sport Palen said he believes the mission of

ambitions: Life. He got married to Sandra, leyball until about 10 Club in Somers. Silver Sneakers is very important.

whom he met in Yonkers. e two moved years ago.” “For me, it’s about “ ey are very supportive in getting

to Mahopac and started a family. He found he could maintenance and older people to the gym,” he said. “If we

“We couldn’t a ord Westchester, but press 250 pounds, lift not overdoing it. I got more seniors to do that we wouldn’t

I never thought of Mahopac,” he said. 235 pounds in the can do anything a have a lot of the health problems that we

“I had a friend who moved up here and snatch and 315 in the 40-year-old do, in- have today. I want to inspire older people

we would visit them on occasion, and I clean and jerk. PHOTOS: BOB DUMAS cluding one-handed to get into some kind of tness program.
Palen performs the lift he developed.
thought, why not?” ough he was busy He can lift as much as 850 pounds. pushups,” he said. You are only as old as you feel. It’s because
at was in 1965. with many other en- “My legs have not I do this, God has blessed me. I don’t have

“We got married and had kids right deavors (he owned a summer home in changed much and have a lot of strength any limitations.”

away,” he continued. “New house, new job. Amenia in Dutchess County that needed in them. I could lift four or ve people in Palen was asked what his biggest in u-

I was 23 and weightlifting just got pushed tending, and he had a pilot’s license for the pool. I would go underwater, and we ence was outside of the world of sports.

into the background. I stayed out of it un- small aircraft), he still found time to get would make this pyramid.” “My biggest inspiration has been San-

til our second child was born. I was out of into the gym and continue his workouts at led Palen to developing his own dra, my bride of 55 years,” he said. “She

it for about four or ve years.” “I always found time to do it and all the special technique. e barbell is placed on keeps me healthy, wealthy and wise. She

Now, with the Olympics and competi- other exercises,” he said. “I could do more a rack about 5 feet o the ground. Palen, de nitely helps me lift the 855 pounds.”

tive weightlifting no longer a goal, Palen than 2,000 sit-ups.” squats under it, grabs the bar, lifts it above At 78, does Palen see a time when he’ll

got back into it for the self-grati cation Ten years ago, he discovered a program the rack for a few beats before dropping it walk away from the gym and retire from

and the health bene ts. And growing old- through his health insurance company back onto the rack. weightlifting?

er didn’t seem to slow him down. In fact, called Silver Sneakers, which provides free “I started with 300 pounds on my rst “No,” he said with a smile. “I will con-

he seemed to get stronger. memberships to senior citizens at partici- lift, then to 400,” he said. “To me, 300 tinue working out until I drop.”


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