Building an Age-Friendly Rhode Island

Pilot Program Underway

By Susan E. Bouchard
(Photographs by Susan E. Bouchard)
Lauren Yabut, left, Administrator at Charlesgate and Kim Gardner, Community Support Specialist review a treatment plan.
Lauren Yabut, left, Administrator at Charlesgate and Kim Gardner, Community Support Specialist review a treatment plan.

Age-Friendly Rhode Island’s Strategic Plan calls for testing new models of supporting older adults in the community. One innovative, grant-funded project currently underway is a pilot program bringing behavioral health services directly into housing.

Partnering with Charlesgate and the Community Care Alliance, this six-month pilot program is closing gaps in care for residents and building bridges of support that extend into the community.

Located in Providence, Charlesgate is an ideal place to test this model because they offer a wide continuum of care with three levels of living - independent, assisted living and nursing home care – already available on their campus.

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Senior Power Through Organizing

By Susan E. Bouchard
(Photographs by Susan E. Bouchard)
Maureen Maigret, Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, moderator Bill Flynn, Sen. Harold Metts and Lee Ann Byrne.
Panelists from left Maureen Maigret, Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, moderator Bill Flynn, Sen. Harold Metts and Lee Ann Byrne.

Building senior power through organizing was the focus of the Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island’s tenth annual conference and expo at the Crowne Plaza on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.

Keynote speaker Jaime Estades encouraged the more than 300 gathered to learn to organize their power to create change. Estades is co-founder of the Latino Leadership Institute (LLI), a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization affiliated with City University of New York. He has been teaching campaign management and public policy for more than 20 years.

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Faith-Based Role in Elder Care

By Susan E. Bouchard
(Photographs by Susan E. Bouchard)
Maureen Maigret speaks at the Third Age Conference.
Maureen Maigret speaks at the Third Age Conference.

Bringing together people of all faiths to help older adults stay connected was the central theme of The Third Age: The Role of Faith-Based Communities in Elder Care conference at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.

Maureen Maigret, chair of the Aging in Community subcommittee of the Long Term Care Coordinating Council, outlined the challenges facing the aging population in Rhode Island. Maigret highlighted the many contributions older adults make to their families and communities as well as the positive economic impact they have on our state.

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A Visit to Pawtucket

By Susan E. Bouchard
(Photographs by Susan E. Bouchard and Lynda Read)
Hannah Slachek, at left, one of more than a dozen regular participants
in the weekly watercolor class at the center.
Hannah Slachek, at left, one of more than a dozen regular participants in the weekly watercolor class at the center.

“I felt like the outside didn’t match the inside. I still felt young, but suddenly other people didn’t always see me that way.” Hannah Slachek, 71, of Pawtucket, R.I., recalls thinking she was too young for the “senior” center, but she decided to give it a try. “I joined a painting class and fell in love with the people I met there. They weren’t ‘old ladies’ they were wonderful, interesting and talented and they had already done so many interesting things in their lives.

Nearly 20 years earlier, Slachek and her husband Michael, moved to Florida for work. They were planning to eventually enjoy their retirement years there as well. But when her husband’s health failed and he passed away she had to re-think her life. She said, “I felt like there was a puzzle piece missing. Like I had to reinvent myself.” She longed to be closer to family, so she moved back to Rhode Island choosing to call Pawtucket home because it was close to her daughter, her extended family and lots of other services.

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A Visit to Jamestown

By Susan E. Bouchard
(Photographs by Susan E. Bouchard and Lynda Read)
Gary Girard leads a morning Tai Chi class.
Gary Girard leads a morning Tai Chi class.

Sometimes people use the phrase "being on an island" as a metaphor for isolationism, being alone and cut off from the rest of the world. But on the small island of Jamestown, R.I., this couldn't be further from the truth. Quickly becoming one of the age-friendliest towns in the state, Jamestown has come to symbolize a paradise of sorts for its older citizens. In a state that holds the distinction of having the largest percentage of adults 85 and older in the nation, one in four Jamestown residents are currently 60 and older. This is among the highest percentages of older adults of Rhode Island towns. Many of Jamestown's nearly 5,500 residents view the natural barrier the waters of Narragansett Bay presents as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. These very defined borders make it easier for its senior center, headed by Ellen Conway-Vietri, to reach out and draw people into its many activities.

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