What Home Means to New York’s Oldest Old


At the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, in the Bronx, Helen Moses, 90, had news.

“There’s not going to be a wedding,” she said.

It was an afternoon in June, just one month since Ms. Moses had announced her plans to marry Howie Zeimer, the man down the hall. She spoke, as always, with absolute finality.

“I’d first like to live together for a while,” she said. “I don’t want to give up this room.”

Ms. Moses is one of six older New Yorkers who agreed to be part of a yearlong project looking at the city’s “oldest old”: people 85 and older, one of the fastest-growing age groups in the city. As summer arrived, their lives moved in directions as diverse as the city itself.

On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, John Sorensen, 91, was devastated: His trusted home attendant was leaving for a new job. In Brooklyn, Frederick Jones, 88, had parts of two toes amputated and was now in a rehabilitation center, wondering how he would ever return to his walk-up apartment. Ping Wong, 90, made a rare trip outside her building, accompanying her daughter for dim sum in Chinatown.

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