Serving seniors with style

Rhinebeck has the largest population of senior citizens in Dutchess County, and a small but strong group of residents to watch over their needs.

One third of those who live in the town and the village are over the age of 60, according to the 2010 U.S. Census data, which found “strictly looking at the largest percentage of seniors versus the entire population of each municipality, the Town of Rhinebeck has the densest senior community at 33.8 percent.”

To serve their needs, the Town Board created a Committee on Aging six years ago. The committee meets every month at Town Hall with Town Supervisor Tom Traudt acting as liaison.

There are currently seven seniors who have been appointed by the Town Board to serve on the committee. But committee chair Marsha DeBlasi said, “We are looking for new members as well as increasing our committee membership to 15 members via a resolution.”

One of the main goals of the committee is to consider the ongoing and changing needs of an aging population and help make improvements and recommendations to programs and services offered to the town’s seniors.

One of the many accomplishments the group is proud of is the availability of the town van for seniors. The van makes twice-weekly trips to the village and to the Stop & Shop supermarket, and seniors can call Town Hall at 845-876-3409 to arrange a pick-up on the scheduled dates.

The committee is in the process of updating the third edition of their brochure, “Growing Older In Rhinebeck,” which provides a comprehensive, detailed listing of the many services and activities of interest to older residents of the community. The committee also issues a newsletter each month listing daily activities. Both publications are free and available at the Starr Library, Northern Dutchess Hospital, Archcare Ferncliff nursing facility, Arbor Ridge, CVS and Northern Dutchess Pharmacy.

The committee also works with the Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce to coordinate business discounts for seniors. And it has generated an Emergency Contact Number card in order to provide seniors one place to store their important data like doctors, pharmacy, contact people, and other valuable phone numbers. The cards are pre-printed with the phone numbers of the Rhinebeck police, the state police, poison control, Northern Dutchess Hospital, Rhinebeck Town and Village clerks, among others.

The card is distributed along with the newsletters, and is also available at Town Hall or wherever newspapers are distributed. A smaller version of the card is printed on the back of the newsletter and is compact enough to carry in a wallet.

The main topic of conversation at the Feb. 4 committee meeting was the upcoming Spring Get-Together, an annual event at which seniors and other community group members discuss programs and services available to older residents.

This year, the get-together will be held near the end of April at Arbor Ridge, which also hosted the event last year.

The committee solicits senior attendees from all the local churches, school districts, senior groups, hospital, nursing homes, library, AARP and caregiver coalitions, but all seniors are invited to attend. “It’s very informal but very informative,” Marsha DeBlasi said.

The next committee meeting is scheduled on March 4 at 1pm in the Town Hall auditorium. The main topic for discussion will be the “Growing Older In Rhinebeck” brochure.

If you would like to become a member of the group or just attend the meetings, or need an Emergency Contact Numbers card, contact Town Hall at 845-876-3409.

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