Senior Advisory Board | Block Island Time
In an effort to engage the community in a critical conversation, the Elders Advisory Committee (SAC) wishes to inform our neighbors of the challenges facing seniors on the island and the role SAC plays in addressing them.
Created in 2007, the Seniors Advisory Committee is tasked by the Town of New Shoreham with meeting the needs of seniors on the island. At first the committee focused on issues such as surveying the community to determine the needs of the elderly, property tax relief, assistance with heating, the need for a social worker and the creation of a recreational program.
Working with a small budget to cover administrative expenses, the committee set out to improve the quality of life for the island’s seniors. In 2010-2011, SAC created the position of Senior Coordinator – initially held by Kathleen Mitchell, followed by Anna Christina Rodgers; our current coordinator, Gloria Redlich, has held the position since 2016.
SAC strives to support older people in their homes and communities for as long as possible and to improve their quality of life within the community. Our goals increasingly focus on the following areas and issues:
Caregivers: We are working to match families with this service. Although there are a handful of local carers, we have reached a tipping point in bringing this essential resource to all seniors who need it.
Among the programs we have created, we are particularly proud of the Senior Ride Service (SRS). As seniors face challenges of isolation and loneliness, transportation to get them out of their homes, make appointments, meet friends and run errands is essential to support their independence. . We believe that this service should eventually be financed by the city.
In order to improve the quality of life of seniors, we offer a series of programs: educational, cultural, recreational, nutritional and social. We sponsor weekly lunches (the Lunch Bunch and Soup Group), reconfigured since COVID into meals delivered monthly to some 70 homes.
Before COVID, we sponsored trips to the Matunuck Theater by the Sea, taking 60-90 people to two productions each summer. We co-sponsor programs with the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Associations as well as the Tri-County Community Action Agency in South County. We have also worked with the Wakefield Contemporary Theater Company to provide an interactive program for people with dementia.
Ongoing activities include memoir and book writing groups, tai chi, seated strengthening exercise programs and two support groups led by a local counsellor, one for caregivers and the other for people living with loss, and a music program. Since COVID, we’re offering them virtually, adding a food/kitchen feature featuring island chefs sharing their favorite recipes. These programs are managed in collaboration with the library, which has always supported the objectives of the SAC.
The creation of a center for the elderly is essential. Offering a wide variety of programs and services, senior centers serve as the “gateway to the aging network connecting seniors to vital community services,” promoting mental and physical activity, which promotes good health and wellbeing. ‘independence.
We advocate the development of a social services agency of which the SAC would be only one component. For years, most of our seniors were relatively independent and needed little help. As our senior population grows and ages, the need for services for seniors also increases. For years there was no
agency dedicated to the needs of older people on the island until SAC intervened. We believe a more structured agency is needed, working in conjunction with other island services such as the Medical Centre, Director of Social Services, BIRA, Island Free Library and NAMI-BI.
Advocacy for an adult care residence: to serve approximately seven or eight elderly people or elderly couples who can no longer manage in their own homes – to provide a facility that works between assisted living and self-contained living. It would also provide housing for caregivers. The city has long struggled with the problem of inadequate housing for city employees. The development of such a residence can solve two pressing problems: the accommodation of the elderly unable to stay at home and that of the city’s critical staff – in care and nursing, etc.
Resources and services that promote well-being and improve quality of life must be available to all islanders – including our senior citizens. Serving seniors, who make up a third of our population, enriches our entire community. The time has come to make seniors’ issues a priority.
By expanding your understanding of SAC’s goals, we hope you will be inspired to join us in educating the community about seniors’ issues and advocating for policies that will help provide the resources needed to address them.
City budget meetings are scheduled for March 16 (overview), March 22 (community support), March 30, April 13, 20, and May 2. Please attend at least one budget session prior to the May meeting. Share your thoughts and opinions with the Board.
co-chairs Sandra Kelly and Gail Pierce;
Senior Coordinator, Gloria Redlich;
Members Betsey DeMaggio, Judy Fucci, Dottie Graham, Ann Henault, Debbie Martin, Jennifer Phillips, Hillary Transue