Harpswell Aging at Home Helps with Senior Wellness

One of a series of articles on the topic of wellness. Click here for more.

By the Harpswell Aging at Home Communications Committee

Harpswell Aging at Home (HAH) is a community-led organization helping older adults address the challenges of aging at home. As we age, sometimes we need help with basic home maintenance and chores, and with meeting basic needs such as food and transportation. We want opportunities to engage with and learn from one another. HAH’s overall goal is to help older adults find the services they need.

Local community groups provide food for the Lunch with Friends program. Harpswell Heritage Land Trust recently teamed up with Ocean Wave Quilters to provide a delicious, home-cooked meal for around 70 people.

Lunch with Friends is a popular program that helps decrease social isolation and builds community, providing an opportunity to chat with old friends and meet new ones. Throughout the year, at locations around Harpswell, many community organizations and volunteer cooks provide a delicious free lunch. Take-outs help with food insecurities and provide meals to homebound seniors. As one homebound senior said, “I was thinking everyone had forgotten me, and you show up with this meal. You made my day.”

Meals in a Pinch (MIP) provides occasional meals on an emergency basis to assist seniors in remaining as independent as possible in their homes. Two examples of when MIP may be provided include after hospital discharge or during hospitalization of a caregiver. To find out more about the MIP, contact Julie Moulton at 207-330-5416 or juliemouton28@gmail.com for details.

Social isolation and loneliness have a negative impact on health. Seniors Connecting addresses this by matching a senior with a volunteer, who calls and chats at least weekly to check in and share resources and upcoming events. Seniors can contact the Town Office to sign up.

Our Home Repairs Team helps make homes warmer, safer, and drier. A few examples include replacing rotted wood on stairs and decks, adding insulation, and installing grab bars and hand rails on stairways. The team recently completed repairs for their 65th homeowner. One homeowner recently said that, after insulation was installed, her fuel bill was cut in half. If you know anyone who might benefit from this program, encourage them to call Linda Strickland at the Town Office, 207-833-5771, to determine eligibility.

HAH’s Resources Team offers a home visit to homeowners served by Home Repairs. Our assessment found that older residents are reluctant to ask for help and are unfamiliar with services available to them. Trained volunteers give seniors the opportunity to speak with a knowledgeable person about senior services and how to access those that might benefit them. Some examples of issues that can be addressed through these services are food insecurity, transportation needs, call button installation, home heating assistance options, and social isolation.

Home Helpers was developed in response to an identified community need for help with chores. Jerry Klepner, program chair, says the program provides volunteers who assist seniors in “creating and maintaining a safe and healthy household” by performing housework the seniors feel necessary to be “comfortable in their home.” Eligibility for this program can be determined by calling the Town Office.

Seniors who no longer drive can register with our partner, People Plus Volunteer Transportation Network, at 207-729-0757. As one senior said, “If you can’t drive in Harpswell, you’re out of luck.” Free rides are offered Monday through Friday for Doctor’s appointments, community events such as Lunch with Friends, and other needs.

To learn more about HAH programs and resources, please go to our website at https://www.hah.community/.

April 2019