Often, the elderly are invisible. We walk past without noticing, especially those in wheelchairs. Old makes us uncomfortable. It is not how those of us who are younger and healthy want to think about ourselves. We will not get old and decrepit. We will not become dependent. If we work hard, eat right, exercise, we will stay healthy and functional our entire lives. So, we avert eyes, pretend they are not there. Or, get angry that they are too slow, in the way of our fast-paced world.
Living in NYC can be easy or hard for older people with disabilities. Crossing the street when cars and trucks are turning, avoiding pedestrians, and squeezing past can be frightening. Sidewalks are often congested, uneven and broken. Doors are heavy to open especially when using a walker or scooter. However, living in NYC also means easy access to supermarkets-and those that deliver; pharmacies' doctors and hospitals; parks and kneeling buses. What a phenomenal place to live.
Many of the subjects in this project live alone. Some have family nearby in the neighborhood. They talk about the importance of their choice to live in NYC. All of them speak about the importance of getting out rather than staying cloistered in their apartments. I have met three women who are over the age of 100. Asking one of them how important is it to get out, she responded. "either I get out or I die."
My goal is to make the elderly visible. Engaging and listening to their stories has connected me to them in ways which, as a photographer, I never thought possible. I have been invited into their homes, I have shared my photographs with them. I have made new friends.