Topics: Aging

Elayne Perlstein, 90, is the sole librarian at the South Chatham Public Library, keeping the non-profit library open two afternoons a week year-round. On a sunny Friday afternoon in late August, Perlstein, who describes herself as “a people person,” greets a visitor warmly, but too many patrons are waiting to check out books to chat now. A few days later, at the West Chatham Dunkin’ Donuts, she has the leisure...

COA Director Resigns, Returns To Orleans Job

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Council on Aging Director Judi Wilson will have been on the job for just over a year when she leaves in mid-September to return to her former position as COA Director in the Orleans. Wilson tendered her letter of resignation to Town Administrator Christopher Clark on Aug. 10. Wilson took the position in Harwich last Sept. 5, replacing Barbara Anne Foley, who served as director for 18 years. “After...

Brigadier General Jimmy Gordon Dishner, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), of Orleans goes by “Jimmy” much like another famous Jimmy, President Jimmy Carter. The plaques and commendations on what he jokingly dubs his “I love me” wall in his home all say “Jimmy,” as do his Virginia birth certificate and his Massachusetts driver’s license. Yet when he goes for his morning take-out coffee at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow near...

CHATHAM — The summer residents' advisory committee is looking for some answers about the proposed new senior center. But having not yet chosen a site, town officials can’t judge the size of the facility or its potential staffing needs. That means some of those answers will have to wait. Meeting on July 20, the summer residents’ committee quizzed Council on Aging Director Mandi Speakman and Principal Planner ...

CHATHAM – The board of selectmen has rejected pursuing private property for a new senior center. At an executive session July 2, the board declined two proposals from private property owners that were the result of a request for proposals the town put out for privately owned parcels that might be suitable for a new council on aging facility, according to a statement. “Out of fiscal prudence, the board decid...

When JoAnne Clancy of Harwich retired from her work as assistant town accountant for the town of Harwich in 2009, she thought she’d have loads of time to work on her craft of decorative painting on slates, mailboxes, plates, wineglasses and barrel staves. Not so. “I’m too busy,” she says. Clancy became a volunteer for the Harwich Cranberry Festival, managing the craft fairs as well as keeping the festival’s...

Chatham Joins Regional 'Age Friendly' Movement

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — Judging by the numbers of seniors living here, one might assume that the Lower Cape is a pretty attractive place to grow old. But for many elders, the high cost of living, the lack of housing and transportation make it difficult to stay here and age with independence. Chatham has now joined Orleans and other Cape towns in seeking a state designation as a regional “Age-friendly” community. Demogr...

ORLEANS — A meeting with state legislators on the concerns of seniors last week morphed into a conversation about the Cape's aging power delivery systems. On March 16 at the senior center, state Sen. Julian Cyr and state Rep. Sarah Peake welcomed state Rep. Danielle Gregoire, House chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. Modestly admitting that she hadn't even been a member of the committee before bei...

Selectmen Endorse Senior Center Planning Funds

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — Though they’re decidedly undecided about a location for a new senior center, selectmen this week endorsed a town meeting article that funds a feasibility study and the hiring of an owner’s project manager. The article asks town meeting to appropriate $100,000 to fund a site feasibility study, to pay an architect to produce a conceptual design and cost estimate for a new senior center, and to hire a...

FinCom: COA Project 'Too Big, Too Ambitious'

By: Ed Maroney

CHATHAM — The ghost of the controversial fire station project hovered over selectmen and finance committee chair Stephen Daniel last week as they discussed a new senior center. “The sense of the finance committee is that we've seen this movie before,” he said Feb. 20, recalling the escalating construction costs of the station. “A $2 million to $4 million project 18 months ago is now $8 million to $10 million...

Wilderness Sarchild Takes A Poetic Approach To Aging

By: Debra Lawless

Wilderness Sarchild, who will turn 70 in a few days, has found her own way of coping with aging: Embarking on a new career as a poet and a playwright. Her book “Old Women Talking” (Passager Books, 2017) begins with the words of an anonymous poet who writes that she doesn’t want people to think of her as “a sweet old lady.” Rather, she wants them to think “What’s she up to now?” The same can be said for Sarchil...

Imagine this: EMTs arrive at a resident’s home only to be locked outside even as they can see the resident lying on the floor helpless inside the house. That’s not a situation that anyone wants to contemplate. But putting into place two simple elements—a key box to allow the fire department to enter and the File of Life form to bring the EMS crew up to speed on the senior’s health – can save lives. Let’s sa...

Woman Suffers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Home

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — A Crowell Road resident is clinging to life after being exposed to deadly carbon monoxide in her home Monday. Officials received a call Monday morning from two women at the senior center reporting that their friend, 91-year-old Nancy Olson, hadn’t shown up as expected. “She goes there regularly to play Scrabble, and she didn’t show up this morning,” Deputy Fire Chief David DePasquale said Mond...

CHATHAM — After a crack appeared in the ceiling of the computer training room, town officials brought in a structural engineer to check the condition of the council on aging building on Stony Hill Road. The results weren't good, and officials say the repairs could top $100,000. The problem was discovered in March, and the engineer recommended the installation of a steel beam to better support the roof. Witho...

ORLEANS — A 108-year-old tradition was renewed in Orleans Friday when Town Clerk Cynthia May awarded the Boston Post Cane to the oldest resident of the town, Sarah Harris. And the tradition is only a bit older than the honoree. Harris turned 103 in June. “I don't mind being old,” Harris quipped. From the comfort of her living room easy chair, she received the congratulations of Selectmen Jon Fuller and Alan...

Death Cafe: An Informal Discussion About Facing Mortality

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — People have a hard time talking about death and dying and discussing plans for the inevitable. So the Council On Aging has taken steps to encourage such discussion, not in the form of grief support or counseling, but in a more informal fashion. Kevin Grunwald, MSW, social service coordinator at the COA, facilitates the Death Cafe, a group-directed discussion of death with no specific agenda. Using...