As the baby boomer population begins to reach retirement age, towns and cities in Rhode Island as in the rest of the country face a need to expand services for these seniors.

To meet these increasing needs, towns such as East Greenwich and North Kingstown are exploring ways to meet them.

“In East Greenwich, we continue to see a significant change in our service programs that continue to evolve in meeting the needs of our senior population today, said town manager Andy Nota.

“In meeting that need, it is critically important to have a Community Services Director like Andy Wade and a Senior Services Manager like Erin McAndrew that both represent senior level public officials with a wealth of experience, expertise and knowledge in public programming and are also equipped to manage operations and develop and offer flexible programs that our residents desire,” Nota continued.

“As is the case in most communities, we service several sub-groups within our senior population, all of which have different needs and interests.  I will loosely define these groups into a few classifications, including those that rely on the core programs that occur routinely at our senior center on a weekly basis, like the congregate lunch program, special large-scale meals,  and a menu of core senior programs.  The next group is a more transient population of guests, friends and visitors at the Center in East Greenwich that are age eligible, and reside in surrounding communities, but avail themselves of the services here, in place of or in concert with their home town services.  The last substantive group is made up of these seniors that have the financial means to do what they wish, have transportation readily available, are physically able to navigate on their own, and have interests that extend beyond the Center, including trips, and events held inside and outside of town.  This group is much less dependent of towns programing, but they avail themselves of select programs with their social group of friends and family in order to take advantage of some of our more interesting local offerings,” Nota explained.

“In recent years the program offering have expanded greatly, including, a series of physical fitness offering, including different types of dance, trail hikes, yoga, fitness, stretching and walking groups, while others deviate to the more creative side inclusive of arts programs, knitting philosophy club, scrabble, bridge, bingo, Mah Jongg and canasta, many holiday themed activities, and lunches, health programs, a wide array of trips and much more depending on the demand, interest, attendance, transportation and weather conditions.”

Andy Wade, director of East Greenwich senior services, said the town has a number of irons in the fire to meet those needs, including an application with the state for a $2 million matching grant to “enhance the Swift Community Center.”

“We are dedicated to serving the needs or our seniors and have a vision that will continue to supply a multitude of services for them,” Wade added.

Additionally, he added the town council has been “very supportive of our seniors.”

When it comes to paying for this expansion of services, Wade said he will be putting in a request to increase his operating budget, although since the town is still in the process preparing it’s coming fiscal year budget, no numbers for his department are yet available.

In North Kingstown, town manager Ralph Mollis said, “our 2020 census figures show that approximately 22 percent of our population is 65 and over.  It is apparent that our Senior population is not only a significant portion of our population and most likely growing, but (fortunately) todays Senior Citizens are dedicated to living an active and healthy lifestyle.  As a result, the services provided at our Senior Center and within our Recreation Department are growing.  With the baby boomer generation becoming Senior Citizens, our Senior Center and Recreation Department requires an expansion of our services to meet this important demand.”

To help meet those needs, Mollis explained that, “The approval of and construction of a Recreation Center is a key component to meeting this demand.  The Rec Center, through our Recreation Department, will allow for critical services and programs to our Seniors (pickleball, basketball, indoor walking, etc) while it will also free up our Community Center which is adjacent to our Senior Center and allow for the Senior Center to expand its services through the Community Center.  And yes, as a result it will require more money to be put into the budget.”

As with East Greenwich, North Kingstown is still in the process of drafting a budget, and the amount of money set aside for Senior services has yet to be decided. 

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