YARMOUTH — Twice a week, Maureen Brosnan can be found in Merrill Memorial Library, meeting with Yarmouth’s older citizens and their caregivers.
Brosnan is the first Southern Maine Agency on Aging resource specialist the town has hired, after a council vote in October to fund the six-month initiative for $12,500 through the end of the fiscal year in June.
SMAA is a Scarborough-based nonprofit whose mission is to “improve the quality of life for older adults, adults with disabilities, and the people who care for them.”
Every Tuesday and Friday, Brosnan will be in the library’s tutoring room from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. to provide support and advice about topics including nutrition, housing, financial security, health insurance, transportation and Medicare.
She will accept appointments or walk-ins. Throughout the rest of the week she can be reached as at SMAA by phone or email.
Residents can also pick up request forms at the library or Yarmouth Community Services to let Brosnan know what services they’re looking for and where she can best reach them.
SMAA Business Development Manager Nancy Connelly said as long as they have permission from the resident, a caregiver can seek advice from a resource specialist like Brosnan, who reaches out directly to the resident in need.
“A lot of times it’s caregivers or neighbors or first responders coming for help,” she said. “People don’t always know they need help or they’re reluctant to ask for it because they’re very proud and don’t want to be a bother.”
Brosnan is working with community groups such as Yarmouth Cares About Neighbors – a volunteer-run nonprofit – and the Lions Club to learn what programs and resources are already available in town and where the town may be able to expand services.
Under YCAN, Aging in Place volunteers provide support and improve the lives of their fellow residents under seven domains: accessibility, social participation, communication, transportation, economic security, home and health services, and housing. A few community outreach efforts on AIP’s extensive list are snow shoveling, gardening, dog walking, yard work, and now, upon request, therapy dog services.
AIP coordinator Leigh Kirchner said with a long list of local and state resources for Yarmouth’s aging population, AIP needed a contact in town who knew where to point those in need, noting that there are some resources SMAA can provide that the town can’t and vice versa.
That is where Brosnan came in.
“It creates a one-stop shopping kind of thing that people can connect with,” Kirchner said. “Our hope is that (Yarmouth) is more a priority for SMAA now … This will bring the programs that (AIP is) doing forward and in addition, share all of the resources that SMAA has.”
Brosnan’s first day in Yarmouth was Jan. 2. Since then, she said she’s had positive community feedback and has enjoyed working with various entities in town to familiarize herself with programs in place. She added that she hopes to work with local senior living facilities, such as Bartlett Circle, Bartlett Woods, and Yarmouth Falls.
So far, Brosnan said she’s had the most inquiries regarding financial and transportation needs.
“As they get older, people want to stay in their homes as independently as possible. Yarmouth has done such a tremendous job putting together the vast network that it has,” Brosnan said, noting its Senior Tax Assistance Program.
Connelly said agency-wide, they’ve seen a “huge interest” in aging in place across different communities, Some, like Yarmouth, are more advanced in their progress and volunteer networks than others.
She said the hope is to work an extended contract into the town’s next fiscal budget and expand Brosnan’s work to more hours spent in town each week.
“It’s incredibly impressive that the town has shown their support and value for the older population,” Brosnan said. “It shows that they want them to stay.”
Similar programs exist in Cumberland and at Plummer Senior Living in Falmouth.
Maureen Brosnan, Southern Maine Agency on Aging resource specialist, will be at Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth every Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m-4:30 p.m. until June.
As Yarmouth’s resource specialist, Brosnan will provide support in various areas, such as nutrition, housing, financial security, health insurance, transportation and Medicare to aging adults, those with disabilities, and their caregivers.