The Hull Council on Aging is already implementing recommendations from a recent study on how to serve Hull’s growing senior population now and in the years to come. By 2035, 43% of Hull’s population will be age 60 or older, according to a recently-completed needs assessment report.
“Our goal is to make the senior center a welcoming place for all the seniors in Hull so that they feel there’s something here for them, whether a book talk, knitting group, a class, or a speaker, and to engage with other seniors,” Council on Aging Director Lisa Thornton told The Hull Times. “We don’t want our seniors sitting at home saying that they don’t visit the senior center because they’re not old enough or don’t know anybody. There’s something for everybody here.”
Recommendations from the report include potential expansion or relocation of the senior center, exploring options for lessening the tax burden on Hull’s older population, setting short-term priorities for implementation by senior center staff, and exploring certification as an “age-friendly” community under the AARP program that supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and rural areas to be “great places for people of all ages.”
AARP believes that communities should provide safe, walkable streets, age-friendly housing and transportation options, access to needed services, and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life.
A number of the recommendations in the report have already been implemented, including the hiring of a full-time outreach coordinator and activities coordinator, holding office hours with COA board leaders on the third Thursday of every month, providing more group travel opportunities, enhancing communication with seniors, and exploring the possibility of establishing a volunteer driver program to provide local and medical appointment rides for seniors to supplement the van services.
“We’re slowly trying to add things like a caregiver support group, which is in process while we wait to hear the outcome of some possible grants that would create more opportunities for us to offer groups like this,” Thornton explained. “It’s inspiring, motivating, and rewarding connecting with people who are involved in these activities. I’m proud of what we’re working on and in awe of the interesting and engaged citizens I’ve met.”
Upcoming activities include a Boston Pops Christmas concert in December (sold out) and a trip to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire Oct. 13 to ride the “turkey train” while enjoying a full turkey dinner and then shopping at roadside stands in the spirit of the fall season.
“We’re continually implementing additional programming, including indoor exercise, beach yoga this summer, a conditioning class, line dancing, and others,” Thornton said.
Coming soon are art workshops in partnership with Hull Artists through a Hull Cultural Council grant.
With regard to a new or expanded senior center, this is just the beginning of the conversation, with updates to come.
The results and recommendations outlined in the report were presented to the select board this summer by Caitlin Coyle, a member of the UMass Boston Center for Social and Demographic Research Gerontology Institute team commissioned by the Town of Hull and the COA to conduct a community-wide multi-phased study focusing on the needs, preferences, opinions, and interests of Hull’s older citizens.
The COA is hoping to meet again with the select board in October “to circle back on our earlier discussion,” Thornton said.