Bath-area 'age-friendly' group seeks input

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BATH — A group geared toward making Bath and neighboring towns more friendly to seniors is looking for input through a survey and hosting a forum on maintaining social connections.

The Lower Kennebec River Livable Communities group, which has been meeting for nearly a year, issued its Livable Community Assessment Survey in time for Election Day on Nov. 6. The questionnaire drew 255 responses at the polls, and has received about 150 at surveymonkey.com/r/LKRLivSurvey, group member Phyllis Bailey said in an interview Monday.

Paper copies of the 20-question survey, open through the end of the year, are also available at City Hall (55 Front St.), the Bath Water District (1 Lombard St.), Bath Area Family YMCA (303 Centre St.), Bath Area Senior Citizens Activity Center (45 Floral St.), Mid Coast Medical Group (108 Centre St.), Patten Free Library (33 Summer St.), and Bath Housing (80 Congress St.), as well as locations in West Bath, Arrowsic and Woolwich.

Completed surveys can be left in collection boxes at those locations or mailed to Bath City Hall, 55 Front St, Bath, ME 04530, Attention: Livable Community Survey.

“Our purpose with the survey is to gain information about how ‘livable or age-friendly’ residents perceive our communities to be, and on a practical level, what residents think is important to make our community livable for a lifetime,” Bailey said.

She added all ages are encouraged to participate “because we know that what may help older residents often benefits younger residents,” too, and “livability can be an age-neutral concept.”

Bailey, a city councilor, can be reached for more information at pbailey@cityofbath.com. People can learn more by attending the group’s program on Thursday, Nov. 29: “Social Connections: They Matter … A Lot!”

The Patten Free Library forum begins at 6 p.m. Featured will be Dr. Susan Wehry, chief of geriatrics at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, who will discuss the importance of social connections. Resources and options to help seniors stay connected, particularly during the winter, will also be offered.

Bailey referred to recent research stating that social isolation can pose a more dire health risk than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“We’re really hoping we can spark a conversation between people about their own tips for getting through a Maine winter, which has really started early,” said Bailey as she looked out her window.

Social connections are deeply related to well-being, “and it’s not that hard to fix,” she noted, adding “most people get a really good charge internally when they are able to make a contribution and be connected to other people.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.