By Susan E. Bouchard
(Photographs by Susan E. Bouchard)
Bringing together people of all faiths to help older adults stay connected was the central theme of The Third Age: The Role of Faith-Based Communities in Elder Care conference at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.
Maureen Maigret, chair of the Aging in Community subcommittee of the Long Term Care Coordinating Council, outlined the challenges facing the aging population in Rhode Island. Maigret highlighted the many contributions older adults make to their families and communities as well as the positive economic impact they have on our state.
During a segment about services available, Rhode Island 2-1-1 assistant director Courtney Smith described their free, confidential service that provides information and referrals. Tina Pearl, program manager at The POINT, discussed the wide range of services that are currently available to older adults throughout the state. An “information buffet” of brochures, guides and other materials was on hand to help participants connect older adults with services that can help them age in their communities. By getting an in-depth view of what is available throughout the state, attendees can be a better resource to the caregivers, families and older adults in the faith-based communities they serve.
The afternoon featured two speakers. Mary Ellen Bartlett, who is semi-retired, and the parish nurse at St.
Michael’s in Hudson, Mass., explained how she helps parishioners one-one-one as needs arise. She also coordinates a 20-member group that visits the homebound. In addition, she assists in end-of-life planning needs including funeral planning and bereavement. She shared the structure of this model and how it might help other faith-based communities adapt to the changing needs of their aging members. Later that day, Patrick Mattingly, president of the Providence Village of Rhode Island and a retired physician, discussed how the village concept works and how their community is addressing the many needs of their members.
Kathy McKeon of Catholic Social Services of Rhode Island, wrapped up the day’s discussion with resources and proven models that can be replicated so that faith-based communities can be active in caring for older adults.