Rye Senior SERVE looks ahead to time of increasing needs

'...I'd rather remain in my own home as long as I can'

Margaret Carroll

The senior population in Rye continues to grow, and indications suggest that the growth trend will keep up.  At Rye Senior SERVE we ask ourselves how we can be of assistance.

To prepare for the future we have been doing a great deal of questioning and listening, especially about housing preferences.  Rye seniors have varied choices, strong opinions:

- some favor a housing complex with condos, single homes, clubhouse and        planned activities  
- cluster housing
- assisted living with limited supervision
- living at home with help as needed

Not to be overlooked, but heard many times:  “I’d rather remain in my own home as long as I can.  I imagine I’ll need help.”

The popular phrase these days to describe staying home is "Aging in Place".

Many residents prefer to stay in familiar settings.  If we have service providers to assist, many people could stay home for a longer period. Experts say bringing help into the home is the wave of the future.

Across the country and locally, organizations are responding.  Here are a few groups who consulted with us, sharing goals and successful practices.

Beacon Hill group arranges repairs for those who stay at home.

Beacon Hill Village, Boston, Mass.
Internationally known, the Village provides services and programs that make living at home safe and healthy. “Through partnership, with proven providers, the Village offers its members preferred access to social and cultural activities, exercise opportunities, household and home maintenance services as well as medical care and assisted living.”

Village members can choose from an a la carte menu of services via a network of experienced professionals.

Many of the services are included in the annual membership fees with others provided at reduced rates. Residents with moderate means are offered reduced membership fees and credit toward services.

Portsmouth

Carlos Castro of Portsmouth is also responsive to the needs of older residents who live alone.  On a simpler level, but with the same goal, Carlos’ group knows that each individual has distinct requests.  Carlos recruited volunteers and divided the city into quadrants.  Next they identified the target group, the people who were alone. Helping to answer all the problems can be a challenge. Often they have to find someone with special skills.  The neighbor to neighbor approach has one great advantage - using people who are known in the neighborhood.  Very often the helpers are friends.  This is a safety measure, important to consider.

Another organization out of Portsmouth and working to keep elderly in their homes is the "Extended Family".  Again, its mission is to help people on their own  terms, to stay healthy and to engage in social activities.

A thorough exam looking at physical, psychological, cognitive social financial and legal well being is the starting point in establishing a personal plan.  The service menu is extensive.  Most work is done on an hourly basis, including health and wellness care.  A registered nurse is on the staff.  Meals can be brought to the home.  Yard work, snow removal and much more is arranged upon request.  Members are told that the staff wants to help them feel as though they were at the Ritz Carlton.

TASC - Transportation Assistance for Seacoast Citizens
TASC concentrates on  mobilizing and coordinating volunteers to provide rides to help transportation-dependent individuals.  TASC was established because public transportation is limited.  (The Rye Senior SERVE Van accommodates small groups with a seating capacity of 14).  Single riders are best assisted one by one.  TASC can do this very well.  Carol Gulla has arranged well-organized programs with training, required references, inexpensive rides.

What is best for Rye might be a combination of programs with differences that suit Rye people with varied needs.  As the number of seniors grows, collaborative efforts can create retirement plans to suit a large segment of our population with varying financial, medical and social interests.

Volunteers anyone?

Ideas anyone?

Phone numbers for each of the organizations described above are available at the Rye Public Library 964-8401.

(The author, Margaret Carroll, is president of Rye Senior SERVE.)


May, 2007


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