Living Well in North Yarmouth An Age-Friendly Community

In 2016, a small committee of town residents began working on a project aimed at improving life for everyone in town – from kids to seniors. After meeting with representatives from the Southern Maine Area on Aging and the AARP, the committee prepared a survey directed to senior citizens, but affecting everyone, to assess the age-friendly aspects of life in our town. Well-lighted wide sidewalks, curb cuts, accessible recreational facilities, shops, and restaurants benefit everyone. Research tells us that people of all ages are looking for the same things to call a community home.

                                                   Living Well in North Yarmouth

An Age-Friendly Community

We gave the project this title because mothers with strollers and grandmothers with walkers benefit from the same curb cuts. Families caring for older relatives benefit from community age-friendly amenities such as wellness calls - another resource to spread responsibility for family care. Playgrounds benefit families and grandparents looking for a safe place for the grandkids to play. Home care services benefit older citizens needing hospital after-care or the young family needing help due to childbirth or illness

The results of the survey are available now and have been posted on the website. After analyzing the results, we are working to create a resource/asset inventory of available services and to identify needed services – increased social opportunities or improved sidewalk safety, for example.Here is a summary of the survey report.

SUMMARY

We want to thank all who took the time to help us learn about our town. It has provided us with fascinating insights and renewed affection for our neighbors. The survey yielded unexpected information and insights into the heart of our town.

Of the 1400 paper surveys mailed to residents, 425 were returned (28%). The remainder, 85, were completed online. A total of 510 residents responded.

This, by any standard, is an extraordinary rate of return. Many respondents took the time to thank us “for asking,” for “being concerned for my welfare.” It may well be that the survey itself was perceived as another reason to feel safe and happy here

North Yarmouth people of all ages are quite independent, as demonstrated by the exceptionally high rates of home and vehicle ownership, the apparent economic security these represent, and the expressed contentment with their lives – conclusions drawn from several questions relating to these issues. To move to this community – with no public transportation, no supermarket, no bank – essentially, nothing to allow residents an unencumbered lifestyle, speaks to this independence. They can afford to live here and pay for the means to get them to an appointment in Brunswick or Portland.

Does this mean that there are no persons needing help in this community?  Of course not. However, it appears that neighbors and near-by family are helping these people informally. The North Yarmouth Fire Rescue service, as well as the Code Enforcement Officer, are also watching over our residents. So are the faith-based communities and the schools. These informal care-giving/care-providing arrangements are time-honored in civilized societies. Does this mean that the community has any work to do to ensure that no one is misplaced in the busy-ness of life? If the basic services are in place, what could/should the town do to enhance quality of life for all? Should our taxes provide added curbside pickup (large items, brush), added sidewalks, and free trash bags for seniors?

These are questions for us to address now – and to routinely discuss in the years forward.

For now, the survey certainly indicated that people would like to see more social activities locally, as well as appropriate small-scale housing to enable those who love North Yarmouth to stay here if or when it is time to downsize. 42 respondents reported the desire/need for senior property tax assistance. The creation of a community center was noted by respondents of all ages, while many asked for a conclusion to the drawn-out issue of rebuilding Wescustogo Hall. Younger residents, saying that the “elders” resisted change and new ideas, expressed this sentiment. These younger residents are in the town but not of the town and thus, are uninvolved. Can this be changed?

For more information: please contact Steve Palmer at 829-6230 or shpalmer@maine.rr.com

Committee Members

Steven Palmer
Alvin Alhers

Donna Palmer
Rod Duckworth

Richard Brobst
Ginny VanDyke

Priscilla Brobst
Steve Frederick, alternate
Emme Peterson, alternate

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