BOWDOINHAM

With a plethora of programs and activities geared toward older adults, Bowdoinham is a leader in the aging in place movement.

The Village Lodge Handy Brigade is one such example, with operations that engage the whole community. The group helps people with simple home repairs or chores. And, if they can’t provide the fix, they work to help older adults connect with the right resources to tackle a project.

The Handy Brigade is comprised of volunteers that help the older population at no cost. Many of its participants are members of the Village Lodge Masonic Hall, and includes others from the community who are willing to lend a hand.

The Handy Brigade was developed by the town’s Advisory Committee on Aging, which meets every third Monday of the month with a simple thought in mind: How can they help those in the community who need it the most?

Committee member Patty Melander said it develops an idea, and then usually a willing community group will get involved to help out.

“We are still present as ACOA members,” she said. “We are there to assist the different organizations.”

Melander has personal experience to reflect on with the brigade: Members of the group helped her when she had a broken ankle. She said they did everything they could to help her in and out of her home, and to make things more accessible.

The Advisory Committee on Aging looks for ways to connect all members of the community, Melander said. Through her work on the committee, she has connected with older adults in the community who have greater needs than can be provided for by the town.

“It has helped me to get to know some people who aren’t able to get out much,” Melander said. “You get talking and may find out they need to go somewhere.”

The Advisory Committee on Aging has been active in helping older residents that need rides, as well. Rides in Neighbors Cars — known as Rides INC — is another volunteer service designed to help people get where they need to go. Melander believes programs like the ride program can help bring the entire community together.

“We want to make sure no one is forgotten in Bowdoinham,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for young and old to feel like they’re helping someone.”

It’s not just helping the town’s older residents get around and with projects that interests the Advisory Committee on Aging, as it has also developed a number of programs to keep that population active. These include cribbage, bridge, pickle ball and line dancing; Bowdoinham also won a Community Challenge grant from the AARP to start a garden club, aimed to help residents who want to start a home garden.

With the array of programs and activities the committee provides or sponsors, Melander said they are always looking for people who want to get involved.

Bowdoinham’s resources for aging members of the community hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2014, the town was selected by the World Health Organization to help develop a set of indicators communities can use to measure progress toward making their communities more age-friendly. Bowdoinham was one of just 13 municipalities in the entire world to take part, and one of just two in the United States.



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