Isolation and its accompanying loneliness is a public health issue and a predictor of poor health in seniors. According to an AARP study, social isolation is as dangerous as obesity or smoking for seniors. Seaglass Village, celebrating its first anniversary on December first, is helping to alleviate loneliness while assisting its members to age in their own homes.
Lois moved to Marblehead in her early 90s to be near her daughter. An active senior and a talented artist, Lois didn’t have a single friend in town. She joined Seaglass Village as one of its earliest members. In the spring she requested that a Seaglass Volunteer join her for a walk. Betsy was free the day that Lois suggested, and they went to Stramski’s and walked from the parking lot to the water and back, slowly getting to know each other.
Seaglass Village, one of more than 350 Villages in the United States., opened for business a year ago, during the pandemic. It now has nearly 100 members and 60 volunteers. Volunteers have helped members with pesky technical challenges, gardening chores, transportation to appointments, and indoor tasks like changing batteries in smoke detectors and swapping screens for storm windows. One of the more unusual requests was getting rid of mice for Shirley, another member in Marblehead!
Lois and Betsy walked together the next week on the Rail Trail. The third week it was raining, and they went for coffee at the Muffin Shop on Washington Street. During the summer they joined others at a Seaglass Village beach party, both bringing her own drink and chair. Betsy is a long-time resident of Marblehead with lots of friends, and now, not only does Lois have a friend, but Betsy has a new friend too.
Seaglass Village also offers its members a long list of social and educational events, including trips, lunches, performances, and classes. There’s a book club and a group that plays bocce and another playing pickleball. At pickleball in late September Betsy met Joy who was also new to Marblehead and wanted to learn pickleball as a way of meeting people and making friends. “You’re my first friend in town,” exclaimed Joy. She and Betsy are now friends, with a plan to get together later in the fall.
Another member from Marblehead, Valerie, sent Seaglass a note, “How wonderful to be picked up so early in the morning and driven all the way to Waltham for my cataract surgery. Seaglass Village is a fantastic resource that helps people like me live in our homes longer.”
The goal of Seaglass Village is to help seniors live independently and safely in their own homes. Well-equipped retirement villages and assisted living homes are nearby and provide excellent care, but many seniors would prefer to stay at home, getting a little help now and then, perhaps to shovel snow off the steps to the front door or to make a few meals when a member gets home from the hospital. Sometimes all a member needs is someone to walk his dog occasionally or help her on with her coat before driving her to a doctor’s appointment; then, he or she may not want to spend the money necessary to live in an institution. Seaglass Village’s web site is www.seaglassvillage.org.
Sometimes those members are feeling isolated and are thankful for the social outreach; and sometimes they just want to rid the house of a mouse.