By Howard Koplowitz
The 57-year-old retired Teamster had not visited a doctor Ð besides the dentist Ð in the two years since he started caring for his mother until he saw an advertisement in a local newspaper about free respite care for the elderly on an emergency basis.”I put off everything for my mother,” Savinetti said, noting that his mother Vivian has colitis and cannot go to the bathroom herself. “It's a financial and every other kind of burden you can think of. It takes up my whole day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” Savinetti said he had a bad reaction to antibiotics following a dentist's appointment in May and was advised to get a blood test. He said he took his mother with him to a local clinic, where a high incidence of antigens for colon cancer was found in his blood. The doctor at the clinic told him he should go to the hospital for further tests.”I put that off because I said, 'What am I going to do with my mother?'” Savinetti said. But Savinetti later saw an advertisement from the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens promoting a free respite care program to be used for cases like his.He took advantage of the service in August and the foundation had a caregiver arrive at his doorstep during the morning of his appointment at Jamaica Hospital.Savinetti said the caregiver and his mother traveled with him on Access-A-Ride to the hospital because his mother did not want him going alone.”It was very nice,” Vivian Savinetti said, noting she went shopping with the caregiver while her son was undergoing tests.Amanda Forsman, the director of the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens' respite care program, said the service began in late 2006 after the non-profit received a state grant.”We saw that there was really a need for a service like this,” she said. “It's such a fantastic opportunity for so many people.”The only requirement for the service, which is available in all five boroughs, is that the person needing care should have an income of $40,000 or less.Savinetti said he was “the perfect candidate” for the program.He said he was yet to schedule an appointment for a colonoscopy, which he was urged to get due to a family history of cancer, but will do so soon, thanks to the free respite program.Those interested in the free respite care program can call the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens at 212-962-7559.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.