Age-Friendly Community Innitiative

Visit the Age-Friendly Community Initiative's website!

July 20, 2017

At the AFCI Mollyockett Day table you may have learned about the projects we’re excited about. To find out more about any of these projects or volunteer to help, see our contact information below. The Exercise, Safety, and Morning Greeting Task Forces are all developing programs and would love to have more community members helping in their work.

We recently received funding from the Maine Community Foundation to support both our Transportation program and our Outreach mission. The Transportation Task Force has a popular Volunteer Driver Program and is working on a Neighbor to Neighbor Program, for which they need local drivers. A wide variety of skills would help the Communications and Information Team produce its array of promotional and educational pieces.

Also at our Mollyockett able was a display of intriguing tools especially designed for seniors who have lost some agility and might welcome help in simple household tasks.

Remember to check the Community Calendar for reminders on interesting programs like the AFCI exercise options and the Music Without Borders series.

Here’s a tough one: what age is “old?” AARP recently asked millennials to define “old age” and to demonstrate what “old” looks like. Then they introduced them to some real “old” people. You can watch the young people’s astonishment to learn that aging is not about decline - it’s about growth.

To contact the AFCI by email:; our website: And we hope you’ll visit our new Facebook page! The username is @agefriendlybethel; check it out and “Like” it, please! You can also send messages to our Page at

July 13, 2017

Mollyockett Day is Saturday, July 15, and we’ll be there!  Our big AFCI logo banner will point you to our table, where there will be several items of interest.  We’re featuring an age-friendly toolkit that we are planning to purchase and display in our communities.  We have a new AFCI glossy bookmark and are asking your opinions on various of our projects.  Come check us out! 

Also featured at Mollyockett Day will be the official launch of “Mapping Murder” by Newry’s own William Andrews. 
Be sure to consult the Community Calendar in this newspaper for lots of other fun summer activities in our area.  The Music without Borders International Piano Festival has begun at Gould Academy, and there are recitals every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
A bit disconcerting: telemarketers have a direct way into our voicemail.  According to AARP (, ringless voicemail is a new technology that allows users to leave you a voicemail through a back door, without the phone ever ringing. This capability could allow telemarketers to flood your voicemail, causing you to miss important messages.  

AARP has done a study on the most effective over-the-counter pharmaceuticals (  Among many others, their recommended headache product (by a small margin) is Advil; for migraines, (by a huge margin), Excedrin Migraine; for inflammation, Advil; for arthritis pain relief, Aleve; and for pain relief, Orajel.
AARP ( cites research suggesting several lifestyle changes to keep dementia at bay: walk more; socialize more; protect your head; be mindful of your diet, including vitamin D; get more quality sleep (at least 7-8 hours a night).

To contact the AFCI by email:; our website: www.agefriendlybethel. org. And we hope you'll visit our new Facebook page! The username is @ agefriendlybethel; check it out and "Like" it, please! You can also send messages to our Page at

July 6, 2017

Remember the AFCI Senior Summer Exercise Program. FMI swimming contact Bob Oikle at or 576-5104; horseshoes contact Eliza Barnes at or 824-3703.

Molly Ockett Day is Saturday, July 15, and we'll be there! Look for the AFCI table and get information, ask questions, see what we're doing.

Before that (more detail in this newspaper): Saturday, July 8 - Strawberry Festival in Locke Mills, Mineral and Gem Show at Telstar, Texas Hold'em in Locke Mills, Greenwood Fiddle Jam; Tuesday, July 11 - Women's Cancer Support Group; Wednesday, July 12 - Senior Citizens Club Meeting; Thursday, July 13 - "Mornings at the Museum"; July 1415 - Bethel Library Book Sale.
How's your vegetable garden doing? Or maybe you don't have one, but would love some fresh veggies. In addition to the area Farmers' Markets, Nabos Shop on Mechanic Street accepts gardeners' excess produce and invites others to help themselves. You may also drop produce off at the Bethel Food Pantry on the second Monday of each month after 9:30 a.m.

The CDC has a website ( with specific tips for people 65 and over on dealing with the heat. Here are a few: 

  • Don't rely solely on a fan to keep you cool during a heat wave, and stay in airconditioned buildings as much as possible. 
  • Drink more water than usual, and don't let yourself get thirsty.
  • Check on friends and neighbors during heat waves, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Don't use the stove or oven to cook.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or someone you are caring for has symptoms of heat-related illness.
To contact the AFCI by email -; website - www.agefriendlybethel. org.

June 29, 2017

Did you read in last week’s Citizen about the summer exercise program offered by the Age-Friendly Community Initiative? Activities began this week and will continue through the summer. FMI on swimming: Bob Oikle (, 576-5104). FMI on horseshoes: Eliza Barnes (, 824-3703).

Don’t forget all the Art Fair-related activities this weekend; consult this paper for details. Preceding the fair, a cookie walk on the Bethel Common, Saturday, July 1 at 8:00 a.m. The day culminates with fireworks at the Bethel Inn.

Consult the Community Calendar also for schedules on the various area farmers’ markets. And of course, Tuesday the 4th features the annual Community Picnic and Concert on the lawn of the Moses Mason House. You may also consult Gem Theater current listings at – or ask to be put on their email list.

Are you a Tony Bennett lover? At age 90, he recently became the first non-composer to win the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Read about it:

Did you know you can subscribe, free, to AARP articles and bulletins? In addition to Fraud Watch Network alerts, you may be interested in regular information about Health, Caregiving & Long Term Care, Financial Security & Retirement, Medicare & Social Security, Technology & Innovation, Travel & Lifestyle, Housing & Livable Communities, Movies for Grownups, and AARP The Magazine and AARP The Bulletin. One fraud area recently discussed centered on wireless network security: There is also a helpline you may call for assistance or to share a personal story about elder fraud: 877-908-3360.

To contact the AFCI by email -; website -

June 22, 2017

From last week’s Citizen article: “A good morning greeting from a friend, relative or neighbor is a great start to a day. It could also be what gives us hope.” The Age-Friendly Community Initiative recognizes that “unlike more urban areas, … we do have good neighbors looking out for one another in informal, quiet ways.” For those who may still “find themselves without that safety net,” however, we are developing the Morning Greeting program. FMI: Brooks Morton (, 207-824-2679)

In this newspaper read about summer exercise/social opportunities that the AFCI has developed.

From the Community Calendar: ongoing events such as the Greenwood Fiddle Jam, Greenwood Fish Fry Friday, and two weekly Farmers’ Markets. Coming up this weekend: the Rotary Club annual Yard Sale and Auction, Gilead’s Friends and Family Day, and Music at the Albany Town House. Tuesday, June 27 begins an exhibit at the Bethel Historical Society, and Wednesday is the monthly Community Supper in Bethel. And don’t forget Bethel’s annual Art Fair the next weekend – including art openings at the Mill Hill Inn and the Gem Theater, and the Novice and Closeted Artisans show

AARP has joined forces with seven other major organizations to launch a public tour imploring the Senate to scrap a health care bill passed by the House of Representatives.

In a recent interview Carl Reiner was asked, “Do you think laughter plays a role in longevity?” His response: “It doesn't hurt! Well, correction — it might hurt a little. But laughter definitely makes it hurt less.” In If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast, a new documentary airing on HBO, Reiner joins Betty White and others to challenge stereotypes about life after 90.

June 15, 2017

The AFCI/Community Concepts Volunteer Driver Program has served our community for 7 months now, and riders and their families express gratitude for this valuable assistance.  We’d love to be able to serve more riders, but we need additional volunteer drivers.  Can you help?  Drivers are reimbursed at a rate of 41 cents per mile and can drive as much or as little as they like.  Community Concepts will offer training on 6/21-23, 7/26-28, and 8/23-25.  FMI: Kattie Roy (207-333-6414, ).

The AFCI Fitness Task Force has been developing seasonal programs for seniors.  Be watching for more details on these outdoor summer opportunities: horseshoes, croquet, swimming, walking, jogging, and biking.

From the Community Calendar: McLaughlin Garden activities (743-8820).  Friday, June 16: Fish Fry Friday; Saturday, June 17: William Bingham II book launch.  Sunday, June 18: Greenwood Ice Caves hike.  Thursday, June 22: first Savvy Caretaker training.  Saturday/Sunday, June 24-25: Rotary Annual Yard Sale and Auction. 

A recent AARP alert ( suggests that your smartphone camera can make you smile and help you in a number of ways – for instance, by taking a screenshot of anything you come across that you want to remember later – where you parked the car, a recipe, online coupons, cartoons, business hours, travel deals, etc.  You can also  a visual journal by snapping a daily photo of something that makes you happy, for a “gratitude reflection” later.

A different AARP bulletin ( lists “18 Quirky Summer Health Tips” – and they are quirky!  My favorite is perhaps just common sense: “Window Hazards - Yes, you can still damage your skin through a glass window. That’s because windows don’t filter out UVA rays. So cover up when driving or in your sunroom.”

June 8, 2017

As noted in today’s newspaper: Friday, June 9: Greenwood Fiddle Jam.  Saturday, June 10: Relay for Life Tag Sale; Wooden Ships, A Tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.  Sunday, June 11: Mollyockett Chorus in Bridgton. Tuesday, June 13: Hanover Cruise In at Stony Brook Recreation. Wednesday, June 14: Senior Citizens Luncheon; Iconic Places: White Mountain Flowers.  And remember to check out the interesting workshops at McLaughlin Garden, 743-8820.

Are you caring for a family member with dementia?  Valerie Cole, AFCI Council member and Seniors Plus Elder Services Specialist, will be facilitating a class in S. Paris on Thursdays from June 22-July 27.  The class will help participants learn strategies that work, in a supportive class with other caregivers.  FMI and to pre-register: 1-800-427-1241.
AARP suggests, “Don’t work out like you’re in your 20’s – ‘cause you’re not!”  (Oh?  I hadn’t noticed!)  Their “body sustainability” expert advises that to live longer and better we should concentrate less on stressing our bodies and more on maintaining our body structure – specifically: "1. Don’t let your belly hang down. Engage those muscles! Inhale and elongate your tummy.  2. Shift your weight to the outside edges of your feet. This can help prevent collapsing arches and bunions.  3. Watch your posture when sitting. Most of us sit in a curved forward position. Straighten up!  4. Always stand with your feet parallel — and your weight equally distributed. Your feet will thank you.  5. We hold a lot of tension in our tongue. Seriously. Gentle pulling on your tongue can help relax your whole body.

To contact the AFCI by email -; website -

June 1, 2017

Need a ride to a medical appointment?  If you call three business days prior to your appointment, there’s help. The AFCI Volunteer Driver Program allows a senior 60 years and older to get a free ride, provided a volunteer driver is available  - call Transportation Coordinator Kay Rector (824-4444). 

Flash!  Wednesday, June 7.  Take a photo on that day, between 5:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. - something here, in our community, that is meaningful to you: a favorite spot, a beautiful view, a friendly neighbor.  Submit your photo as part of the community celebration hosted by the Bethel Area Nonprofit Collaborative.  From 5:00-7:00 p.m. the same day, all photos will be on display at the Gem Theater, and you may cast your vote for the People’s Choice award and enjoy the celebration, which includes presentations by the Mahoosuc Heart & Soul program.  FMI on the event: last week’s Bethel Citizen.  FMI on submission guidelines: Amy Scott, BANC Facilitator (207-357-3189,  FMI on Heart & Soul: Catherine Ingraham (207-590-0541,

And there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the area.  Noted in this newspaper: Saturday, June 3: Bethel Library Plant Sale; Annual Rhubarb Festival and White Elephant Sale at the First Universalist Church in West Paris; contra dance at the Franklin Grange; Wednesday, June 7: WMSC Down Home Maine presentation; Mining and Minerals program in Greenwood.
My AARP Daily Alert describes “7 Surprising Hacks for a Bug-Free Kitchen.”  Read the article at A little glimpse: basil, peppermint, a chalkline, flypaper, vinegar, lavender – and most surprising: cucumbers!

To contact the AFCI by email -; website -

May 25, 2017

The Heart & Soul program asks what we value about our community and what we would change. Our Age-Friendly Community Initiative focuses on making our community a great place for all ages. One key factor is the respect for older citizens and their access to social opportunities. We are grateful to those who include the elderly as they create interesting activities and programs; among them (from the Community Calendar of The Bethel Citizen): the McLaughlin Garden in S. Paris, hosting their lilac festival; the Bethel Farmers’ Summer Market, opening on Saturday, May 27. On Monday, May 29 a Birds and Bloom Walk at the Land Trust; on Wednesday, May 31, the monthly Community Supper at the Alliance Church; and on Saturday, June 3, the annual Bethel Library Plant Sale.

In light of the recent international cyber-attack, AARP suggests that the best way to prevent ransom-ware attacks is to make sure every time your operating system or a software asks if it can run a system or security update, that you update it. Additionally you should: (1) update Windows XP or any other older Microsoft operating systems; (2) back up your files remotely every day, but only on a hard drive that is not connected to the internet; (3) never open a suspicious email attachment. Never download an app that you haven’t verified with an actual store. Read reviews before installing programs; (4) make use of antivirus programs before downloading; they have the ability to scan files to see if they might contain ransom-ware.

Get AARP’s Watchdog Alerts, and find out how to protect yourself from scams at FMI: (by email); (website)

May 18, 2017

The AFCI is working hard to address issues that either are, or will be, confronting all of us as we age in our communities. To learn more, visit our brand-new website:
Last Saturday we managed a very successful AARP-sponsored shredding event in town.

This week Al Cressy and Nancy Davis participated in the Age-Friendly Communities Day at the State House in Augusta. It afforded the opportunity to acquaint legislators with the age-friendly work being done across the state, as well as valuable conversation with other communities in the network. AARP testified on two bills in the afternoon: against LD 1581, which repeals the AccessAble Home Tax Credit , and supporting LD 1406, which increases prescription drug price transparency.

We recently attended a wonderful movie, Born in China (G). From frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest, the brilliant filmmaking follows the adventures of the majestic panda, the savvy golden monkey and the elusive snow leopard. I highly recommend you see it, now at the Gem Theater.
Local reminders: Friday, May 19: Greenwood Farmers’ Market. Saturday, May 20: Spring Healing Psychic Fair; Texas Hold’em. Sunday, May 21: Benefit Fundraiser; Fiddle Jam; Friday Fish Fry. Tuesday, May 23: Men’s Cancer Support Group; Telstar High School Annual Red Cross Blood Drive.

AARP noted Mothers’ Day with an inquiry into “Best Advice From Mom.” A few: “Slow down and embrace it all… Tomorrow is another day. Everything looks so much better after a good night’s sleep. If you can’t say something nice, think harder… Do something good for someone else every single day, and don’t tell anyone you did it.” For other “pearls of wisdom we’ll never forget”:

May 11, 2017

From the Community Calendar in this newspaper: Friday, May 12 - Fish Fry Friday; Saturday, May 13 - Spring Sale at the Locke Mills Union Church; AARP-sponsored Shred Day; Craft/Vendor Fair at Rite Aid; The Medicine Wheel for Balance and Harmony. Thursday, May 18, 12:30-4:00 at the Norway Saving Bank – a consultant from Seniors Plus is available to answer questions or concerns.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” This C.S. Lewis quote was cited at in honor of Older Americans Month. It advises elders to: “Know Your Rights, Stay Engaged, Strive for Wellness, Explore New Things.” Suggesting that seniors Age Out Loud, it notes the Administration on Aging website Eldercare Locator for information on a wide range of topics.

Try this neat little quiz at WebMD about what happens as your brain ages.
And what can you do about it? For one, you may subscribe to AARP’s Staying Sharp (, and play such games as Split Words. You’ll also find tips for improving your brain's ability to shift gears and adapt to new information: stroll amid the beauty of nature, eat berries with deeper hues, stay active and exercise. Research has found that regularly drinking a cup of green tea could help strengthen your memory – but the best: chocolate may offer sweet benefits for your brain.

To read AARP’s discussion of the new House healthcare plan:
AARP suggests that “You speak to your loved ones every day. But do you talk about important decisions in the future? Get options and ideas on the best way to talk about the important wishes of your loved ones through this unique interactive video.”

May 4, 2017

Note in this newspaper’s Community Calendar: Saturday, May 6: local clean-up days; Wednesday, May 10: Bethel Senior Citizens lunch/meeting; Thursday, May 11: “Searching for the Flowers and Plants of Spring”; Saturday, May 13: free AARP shredding event.

How can public transportation be improved in our area? Lend your opinion by responding to the survey described in last week’s Bethel Citizen.

Mahoosuc Heart & Soul is a two-year program that attempts to involve all community members, focus on what matters, and plan for long-term improvements. FMI: Our local program is managed by a group of volunteers and program coordinator Catherine Ingraham, who ask: What do you love about this community? What is important for the future of this community? The questions are posed in a number of places that invite your responses - in bars and restaurants, the Gem Theater, and other public places. Visit their Facebook page to see some of the responses to date. To become involved in gathering stories from fellow community members or to offer your own story:

A 2015 Harris poll of Baby Boomers found that 91 percent of them felt that attending music concerts was an important part of leading a fulfilling life. We are lucky that our area offers its share of these live musical opportunities – of all varieties – and some of us participate ourselves. Several local residents sang Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony recently with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and others sang Bach’s Mass in B Minor with the Maine Music Society Chorale and Orchestra. Still others sang women’s barbershop with the Mollyockett Chorus, under their new director Simon Smith of Bethel. And many community members enjoy playing in - and listening to - the Mahoosuc Community Band.

April 27, 2017

Last week the AFCI was represented by Al Cressy on two occasions at the State House. Al participated in a three-person panel at Tuesday’s State legislature’s Aging Caucus, during which he made a presentation on the Initiative’s volunteer driver program. Rep. Fran Head, who was among those participating in the caucus, offered some very complimentary and much appreciated words about Bethel’s age-friendly initiative. On Friday, Al offered testimony in support of bill LD 1248, which provides for much-needed funding of volunteer driver programs such as ours. Please contact Representative Head (824-2114) indicating your support of this important piece of legislation.

Thursday, April 27, 6:00 p.m, West Parish Congregational Church: To Your Health program sponsored by the Western Mountains Senior College – free and open to the public. Dr. Daniel VanBuren: “Be Smart about your Heart.”

Thursday, April 27, 6:00-9:00 p.m., American Legion Post, Vernon St., Bethel: Sip ‘n Paint Fundraiser for the American Legion; $35.

Thursday, April 27, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Gem Theater: Community Poetry Festival.

Low-cost cat care (rabies vacccine, spaying and neutering and a wellness visit) available to Income-eligible cat owners. FMI: the Animal Welfare Society (773-6221).

An AARP study asks “Should I Ask a Second Opinion?”

You may subscribe to AARP’s Staying Sharp (, and play such games as Split Words. You’ll also find tips for improving your brain's ability to shift gears and adapt to new information: stroll amid the beauty of nature, eat berries with deeper hues, stay active and exercise. Research has found that regularly drinking a cup of green tea could help strengthen your memory – but the best: chocolate may offer sweet benefits for your brain.

April 20, 2017
Saturday, April 22 - Earth Day Celebration: see details in last week’s Bethel Citizen. FMI: Bonnie Pooley, Local Food Connection (381-7944) or Wade Kavanaugh, Gem Theater (824-8248).

Wednesday, April 26, 4:30 - 6:00: free Community Supper at the Bethel Alliance Church, 251 Walkers Mills Road, Bethel.
Wednesday, April 26, 4:00-6:00 at Telstar: “Fraud & Scam: How to Protect Yourself” (

Tai Chi for Arthritis & Falls Prevention – Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:00-7:00 p.m., May 1- June 21 at Telstar, $40 (

Happy spring! And with it, clean-up time! Saturday, May 6, 9 a.m. - noon: Woodstock: meet at Bryant Pond Ballfield; Greenwood: meet at Greenwood Town Office; Bethel: meet at Davis Park. Bring work gloves and wear work clothes; bags will be provided.

Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation is now accepting applications from people with physical disabilities, including strokes and Parkinson’s disease, for its summer sports programs: wheelchair and adaptive tennis; cycling using Maine Adaptive’s recumbent hand and foot cycles; and adaptive paddling on lakes and the Androscoggin. All lessons and equipment provided free of charge. FMI email, or visit or call 207-824-2440 x 1107 to speak with Brandon Merry.

The AARP website ( contains a world of information of interest and use to seniors. You may want to subscribe to the daily email alert (go to bottom of page to activate your subscription.)

A home replacement project in Chesterville, ME supports aging in place – and learning building skills. Sounds exciting! Read about it at

April 13, 2017

Congratulations! At its recent Western Maine Summit and General Assembly Meeting, AVCOG (Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments) recognized the Bethel Area Age-friendly Community Initiative (AFCI) with its Transportation Achievement Award for “establishing innovative free transit for senior citizens in the greater Bethel Area.” Al Cressy and Transportation Coordinator Kay Larson accepted the award on behalf of the AFCI. The AFCI program allows a senior 60 years and older to get a free ride by calling Kay at 824-4444. You must call three business days prior to the ride. Rides are dependent on the availability of a volunteer driver.

Wednesday, April 19, 7:00 pm; McLaughlin Auditorium, Gould Academy: The Mahoosuc Land Trust’s “Iconic Places: Wildflowers of the White Mountains,” a presentation on the impact of climate change on the bloom periods of wildflowers. FMI:  

There are several interesting Books 2 Film Club events coming up at the Gem Theater (see their Facebook page FMI). The first week in May: “The Zookeeper’s Wife” by Diane Ackerman; also in May: "The Circle" by Dave Eggers.

Wednesday, April 26, 4:00-6:00 at Telstar: Valerie Cole from Seniors Plus will offer a free class on “Fraud and Scam Awareness: How to Protect Yourself.”

Remember the “bad ole Androscoggin”? Many of us were here decades ago when the stench from the paper mills and river was pretty noxious. Some local teachers would love to have their students learn about this piece of history from those who woke each morning wondering which way the wind was blowing. FMI:

Saturday, May 13 at the bus garage on Rt. 26: free shredding event sponsored by AARP.

April 6, 2017

Note these events on the Community Calendar of this newspaper: * Bethel Senior Citizens luncheon/meeting; * St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts in Berlin, NH - the Sky Blue Boys; * Improv Quilting and Hand-Sewing Workshop at the Gem Theater.
The UMaine Center on Aging is seeking volunteers to participate in a study on sleep patterns in older adults. FMI:

For low-cost, accessible oral health care with state-of-the-art facilities, learn about Community Dental Rumford at
A new scam alert from AARP: Netflix users are receiving an email claiming to be from the company, asking them to update their Netflix login information. After providing this, a second screen appears which asks users to validate their payment information. FMI:

A recent article highlighted renewed measures against financial and identity scam operations in Maine, particularly as it affects the senior population. Attorney General Janet Mills and former Maine House Speaker Mark Eves are advocating for improvement in medical records processing, and for progress with the $15 million bond that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2015 to build affordable senior housing in Maine. At a recent event where these ideas were discussed, the Seniors Plus program was praised.

The most recent AARP bulletin describes “Medicare Fraud’s New Face.” Another feature article asks “How Much Would You Spend to Keep Your Pet Healthy?” and describes seven ways to save money on veterinary costs. “50 Great Ways to Live Longer” includes: consider extra Vitamin D, cut back on pain pills; get enough sleep; say yes to that extra cup of coffee; eat whole grains; spice it up (your food); drink whole milk; drink more water.

March 30, 2017

Check for the new movies at the Gem Theater ( and note two Books 2 Film events: April 4, 7:30 p.m. - Film Screening and Discussion of “1984.” This is a nationwide event to protest arts funding cuts. First week in May: "The Zookeeper's Wife" by Diane Ackerman.

The Western Mountains Senior College and the Bethel Area Age-Friendly Community Initiative will sponsor a Brown Bag Lunch discussion on Tuesday, April 11, 12:15-1:30 in the Bethel Inn Library. On the topic of Food Security, the program will include people from our community who are involved in programs to improve local access to healthy food at affordable prices (sometimes no-cost). The event is free and open to the public. Bring a bag lunch and help us explore:

· What are the challenges faced in our communities?

· What’s already happening to address current needs?

· What new initiatives might be possible?

FMI and to RSVP:

The AARP Fraud Watch Network is sponsoring author and scam prevention expert Frank W. Abagnale with valuable advice on spotting and avoiding scams and protecting yourself and your family. Thursday, April 20, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at USM's Hannaford Hall, Portland. Free, but registration required. ( or call 877-926-8300).

AARP Maine is committed to helping family caregivers get the support they need. A current priority is the passage of the caregiver tax credit for working caregivers. The Maine Caregiver Resource Guide is at:, and you may receive a printed copy by emailing

AARP has produced videos to help raise awareness and allow caregivers to tell their stories.

March 23, 2017

Remember this wonderful local resource: there is help available for your technological challenges and devices. The Adult Education program sponsors student helpers after school in their office. Because of the longer school day, Tech Help hours are changing to Mondays and Tuesdays, 3:30pm-5:00pm. With graduation and other springtime activities scheduled, it would be wise to call ahead to be sure the students are available on a given day: 824-2136 ext 1340.

Seniors Plus is the designated Western Maine Agency on Aging, and we are delighted to have their Elder Services Specialist (and Greenwood resident), Valerie Cole, on the AFCI Council. Note the article in last week’s Bethel Citizen about volunteer opportunities which would enable the agency to serve more clients.

If you are concerned about responsible charitable giving, you may be interested in Charity Navigator (, which works to:

  • “Continually provide new and updated charity ratings
  • Increase charity transparency and awareness
  • Support the long-term missions of charities through our encouragement of informed giving.”
It suggests these 5 steps to responsible giving: Be proactive in your giving, research before giving, discuss results and impact, consider the way you give, and follow your investment.

Beginning on January 1, 2017, a new tax credit, called the AccessAble Home Tax Credit, became available for Mainers who earn less than $55,000 and have to pay for home modifications to accommodate for a person with a physical disability or hardship who lives at the residence. Some examples of necessary modifications to make your home more accessible include the instillation of grab bars or ramps, widening doorways, etc. For more information, visit

March 16, 2017

The Western Mountains Senior College is registering for spring classes. FMI, to register, or to join the college: http://wmscollege.blogspot. com/. On Monday, March 20, 2-3:30 at Telstar, Tom Davis will talk about J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor. Designed as preparation for The Maine Music Society Singers' performance of the work on March 25 and 26 in Lewiston, the class can also be enjoyed separate from the concert.

Gardeners Growing Healthy Communities (GGHC) will offer its popular gardening training course at the Mahoosuc Land Trust office in Bethel - Tuesday evenings 5:30-8:00 starting on April 4. The seven-week, indoor training will cover the practical aspects of successful vegetable gardening, and instructor Barbara Murphy promises that "the learning continues as we work together at our GGHC gardens growing produce for others throughout the late summer and fall. $100, with limited scholarships available. FMI: or Barbara Murphy (, 890-1626).

We're delighted to learn that Senators Collins and King have proposed the Senior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act that would better coordinate existing federal home modification programs to make it easier for seniors to stay in their homes as they age. We'll be looking for more news on that front.

Well now, wasn't this a relief! The new AARP magazine has a feature article on four medical tests that we can skip in our 70s; in fact, they may do more harm than good: colonoscopy, mammogram, PSA, and pap smear. Correspondingly, it suggests two tests that we should get: a bone density scan and abdominal aortic aneurysm screening.

March 9, 2017

Friday, March 17, 7:00 p.m. at the West Parish Congregational Church in Bethel: open mic coffee house. All talent from all ages welcome. FMI: Tom Davis (

If you are an alpine skier: Saturday, March 25, 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Sunday River: ski-a-thon to benefit Maine Adaptive. Form a team with four friends or be an indoor volunteer. FMI: For a more spectator-oriented event: the Sunday River Pro Ski Challenge on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 9-11. FMI:

At the Maine Art Gallery, 57 Main St., Bethel: “Migration,” a collaborative work by wood artist, Don Best, and mosaic artist, Judy Mayberry. Wednesdays-Sundays until March 26, 11:00-5:00.

Thursday, March 16, 3:00-4:30 at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, 99 Main St., Bethel: “Third Thursday Talks.” FMI on the museum:

Maine Public Radio has been featuring a series called “In This Life.” Five recent programs have highlighted age-friendly issues or initiatives in Maine (see A recent program was about the Village Lodge Handy Brigade, a group formed by the local Masons that does minor repair jobs and chores free of charge for seniors in Richmond and neighboring Bowdoinham. This could have some relevance as our AFCI begins to approach such a project in the future, so you may want to read the script or watch the video:

You may be interested in receiving the AARP Advocate, a free monthly e-newsletter which gives e-mail action alerts on issues important to seniors, as well as the latest news on Congress and the White House. (

March 2, 2017

Saturday, March 4, “Where Does That Great Maine Maple Syrup Come From?” sponsored by the Western Maine Senior College:

The Western Mountains Senior College’s To Your Health program scheduled for March 9 has been rescheduled. “Ask the Pharmacist” will be on Thursday, March 23, 4:30-6:00 at the Bethel Congregational Church. 

Check out the classes offered by the Adult and Continuing Education Program at Telstar: Starting soon: Medicare 101, Tap it and Heal it, and Winter Luminaries~Hand built Pottery Class.

Remember the Mountain Explorer’s new free Flex Route program. There are flyers in local housing units, as well as the Bethel Foodliner and Bethel Library. Or call 207-330-3304 for more information.

Wednesday, March 8, 11:00 a.m.: Senior Citizens Club lunch meeting at the Sudbury Inn.

The Federal Trade Commission ( notes a wide variety of scam alerts, including (1) Government Bill-Paying Service - making the rounds in some churches, which makes it seem honest and official. (2) Yahoo Customer Service by Phone - If you do a search for a Yahoo customer service phone number, you may instead be dialing a scammer. (3) FTC Investigation Email - victims receive an email informing them that they are under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. (4) Phony Retailer Apps - Victims download the fake apps and then insert their credit card or bank information right into the hands of the scammers. (5) Amazon Gift Card Requests - never pay for big online purchases with an Amazon gift card – unless, of course, you are buying from Amazon.

A date for your calendar: on Saturday, May 13, AARP is sponsoring a free shredding event at the bus garage on Rt. 26. Start saving up all those items that accumulate too fast for you to handle.

February 23, 2017

Understanding that in our rural area adequate transportation is a real challenge, the AFCI has developed the Volunteer Driver Program (824-4444). Now the Mountain Explorer's free local flex route service includes locations up to ¾ mile on public roads off the bus route, including housing units. Destinations may include the BFHC, shopping and Rite Aid; call for a ride 24 hours in advance: 207-330-3304. Of course, there are less formal ways of making rides available. If you drive and you are planning to attend a community event, you may have a friend or neighbor that would appreciate a ride.

Here are some good local opportunities: the Gem Theater always has top movies; you can get on their email alert list or visit Be sure to read about the Oscars Watch on Sunday, Feb. 26 and the new Books2Film series that begins Tuesday, March 7.The Gem Theater always has top movies; you can get on their email alert list or visit pages/frontpage.

The Western Mountains Senior College (WMSC) offers a wide variety of classes for its members. If you're not a member, it's easy to become one. An upcoming class on March 4 and 11 is "Where Does That Great Maine Maple Syrup Come From?" Non-college members are also a WMSC priority, with presentations and activities open to the public. Visit the blog for more information:

In our very active community, you can get information on other upcoming events from the Chamber of Commerce website: Information from AARP on hearing loss: Also from AARP - org/external_sites/caregiving/end/internal_resources.html. Here you'll find a number of resources for end-of-life issues, including a special section on grief and loss:

FMI contact Nancy Davis at or 381-1110.

February 16, 2017

The Age-Friendly Community Initiative has accumulated a vast array of valuable informational pamphlets, published by AARP, Seniors Plus, and others, and addressing such topics as Meals on Wheels, caregiver support, and caring for a family member with dementia, as well as affordable ways to make your home comfortable, safe and a great fit. The pamphlets are available for the taking, and we’re making efforts to get them out into the public. You will see them in a sequence of sites - right now in the District Exchange. Stop by and take anything that meets your needs.

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, The Western Mountains Senior College is offering another in the series of Brown Bag Lunch Discussions. The topic is Aging Well. Our AFC Initiative has several programs in progress and needs ideas and help from community members: “Listen - Learn - Suggest - Volunteer.” Free and open to the public; bring a bag lunch. Lunch is 12:15-1:30 at the West Parish Congregational Church. Snow date is Feb. 23. RSVP so we can set up chairs. FMI contact

Feb. 22, from 4:30-6 p.m. there will be a Community Supper at the Bethel Alliance Church. Come and join the people of the community for a delicious meal at no charge.

The final tip from Consumer Reports on finding the best prescription drug prices: “Look online. If you’re paying out of pocket, check to learn its “fair price” and use that to negotiate if a pharmacist quotes you a higher price. You can also fill a prescription with an online pharmacy such as

Only use an online retailer that clearly operates within the U.S. and displays the “VIPPS” symbol to show that it’s a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site.”

FMI, http://www.consumerreports. org/drugs/6tips-for-finding-the-bestprescription- drug-prices/.

February 9, 2017

Welcome, Gilead, to the Age-Friendly Community Initiative, joining Bethel, Greenwood, Newry, and Woodstock.

SeniorsPlus will be at the Norway Savings Bank in Bethel on Thursday, February 16, 12:30-4:00. FREE and open to the public – find out about services and resources for older adults and their families. FMI: 1-800-427-1241. Elder Services Specialist, Valerie Cole, coordinates support services for local family caregivers. Local contact: Karen Paul (, 836-2266).

A user of SNAP benefit discount coupons at the Greenwood Farmers Market (Fridays, 4:00-6:00) says that “Being able to use these coupons has been extremely helpful financially so I can get products to keep me feeling well. Thanks to the help of these coupons I can afford to stay on track with my health."

Here’s a good use for all those plastic bags that keep accumulating in your kitchen: the District Exchange can use them; bring them in during their business hours: Mondays, 1:00-4:00, Thursdays, 4:00-6:00, and Saturdays, 10:00 –noon.

Remember the Gem Theater in Bethel - a fantastic social opportunity! Top movies on Friday through Monday nights, special events, and now, art films in their new third theater – and they serve wine and beer! FMI and to get on their email list:

More tips from Consumer Reports on finding the best prescription drug prices:

· Always ask "Is this your lowest price?' Pharmacists can’t offer this information unless you ask. Check back often, because prices and offers may change.

· Seek a 90-day prescription. For drugs you take long term, it can be more convenient and even cheaper. FMI:

February 2, 2017

Another tip from Consumer Reports on finding the best prescription drug prices: "Don't always use your health insurance. Many chain and big-box stores offer hundreds of common generics at very low prices to people who pay out of pocket." Watch for sign-up fees and eligibility with Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare insurance. FMI: http:// www.consumerreports. org/drugs/6-tips-for-finding-the-best-prescriptiondrug-prices/.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free, individualized tax preparation for low-to-moderate-income taxpayers aged 50 and older. The closest site is Norway Memorial Library at 258 Main St., Norway. FMI: aarp_taxaide.html.

Maine Adaptive's Nordic cross country ski and snowshoe programs are open to people with physical disabilities, which includes hearing or vision loss, chronic conditions such as MS or Parkinson's, traumatic brain injuries, or balance or mobility issues due to strokes or debilitating arthritis.

Bethel Community Trails (at the Bethel Inn), Fridays, 9:30 to noon; equipment supplied, as well as volunteers guides and instructors. Advance registration required forms at FMI: or Brandon Merry (207-824-2440 ext.1107).

Sunday, Feb. 5: visit the Mahoosuc Land Trust's new home, the Valentine Conservation Center, 162 North Road (right past the Bethel Regional Airport). As part of the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend, from 1:30-3:30 there will be refreshments and a tour inside; outside, naturalist Paul Motts will lead a snowshoe and wildlife tracking event. FMI:, 207-8243806.

WMSC To Your Health, Thursday, Feb. 9 (snow date Feb. 16), 4:30-6 WP Congregational Church, Bethel: Be Smart about your Heart. FMI: Rosabelle Tifft ( 824-2053).

Don't forget that the Bethel Library has a collection of books on age-related topics, as well as a collection of used AARP publications for the taking.

January 26, 2017

The AFCI sends a big thank you to Bethel native and part-time Florida resident, Mike Stowell. Mike recently made a generous donation to the AFCI Transportation initiative, enabling it to be sustained beyond its first year. If you need a ride, you may call the coordinator, Kay Larson, at 824-4444. Thanks, Mike!

Armchair Yoga: Saturday, Jan. 28, 1-2:30 at the Bethel Town Office Meeting Room on Main Street. Free - participants will also receive a free DVD to continue practice at home. Space is limited so pre-register: Jackie Cressy (, 824-0508).

The AFCI Morning Greeting program has been developing a morning calling and check-in system for area residents who are 60 years or older and live alone, as well as adults with disabilities who live alone. The service will be free, confidential, neighborly, phone-based, seven days per week, consistent, and sustainable. Be watching for more details as the program gets further developed. FMI; Kay Larson (, 824-3333).

Over the next few weeks, we will be offering tips from Consumer Reports on finding the best prescription drug prices. For the full story: http:// www.consumerreports. org/drugs/6-tips-for-finding-the-best-prescriptiondrug-prices/.

Today's tips

Skip chain drugstores. The study found big pharmacy chains consistently charging the most.

"Among all of the walk-in stores, Costco offered the lowest prices. You don't need to be a member to use its pharmacy, though joining can net you more discounts." Support independents. Often (but not always) mom and pop stores and supermarkets offer real bargains, and pharmacists might have more flexibility to match or beat competitor's prices.

January 19, 2017

Sunday, January 22, 11:30, West Parish Congregational Church: a short conversation/information session about the Age-Friendly Community Initiative; follows the church service and is open to the public. We want your ideas and thoughts about current AFCI projects and your suggestions for future activities and possibilities.

An upcoming community meeting to help residents learn more about broadband internet in the Bethel area and its role in the area’s future: Wednesday, January 25, 6:00-8:00 pm, Telstar library (snow date: Monday, January 30). Why does this matter to seniors? Visit High speed Internet can help seniors live independently, improve quality of life, increase participation in economic and civic life and reduce costs of medical care. It enables us to share our knowledge and stay in touch with loved ones. FMI: Mia Purcell (, 207-739-6543)

A public event from the Western Mountains Senior College (WMSC) – Tuesday, January 24, 12:15-1:30 in the Bethel Inn Library (snow date Wednesday, January 25). This Brown Bag Lunch discussion will center around how we can restore civil discourse in our current political climate. FMI: the WMSC blog site, and to RSVP:; 381-1110.

From the AARP daily news alert: Don’t “unsubscribe” or “opt out” (from unsolicited e-mailings). Logic may suggest that following “unsubscribe” links in unsolicited email and “opt out” options in robocalls (most of which are illegal) will curb the flow, but doing so only confirms a live email address or phone number to fraudsters. Unless you know the message is from a trusted business you’ve previously dealt with, just delete or hang up.

January 12, 2017

Learn more about LIHEAP, the Low Income Heating Assistance Program - apply for assistance if applicable. A recent Sun Journal article suggests that there are several myths preventing seniors from applying to the program, among them: “(1) I make too much money … (2) I don’t heat with oil … (3) I rent, and heat is included.” Call for the real scoop (Community Concepts: 795-4065 or 866-5588).

How wonderful it is to have fresh produce in the winter! The Greenwood Farmers Market, in the old Greenwood Town Hall on Rt. 26, has expanded its program to every Friday, 4:00-6:00. SNAP benefit discount coupons are available.

The Bethel Farmers’ Market is in the Gem theater every Saturday from 1:00-3:00. On January 14th, it will be followed by a showing of the film, “SEED: the Untold Story.” FMI see the full story in last week’s Citizen or contact Bonnie Pooley (, 381-7944).

SeniorsPlus will be at the Norway Savings Bank in Bethel on the third Thursday of every month starting January 19th, 12:30pm-4pm. FREE and open to the public - have questions or concerns answered about services and resources for older adults and adults with disabilities and their families. FMI: 1-800-427-1241.

A unique opportunity presented by the Reeve Foundation: two healthcare professionals and yoga therapists will share seated yoga techniques to help rejuvenate mind and body. Saturday, January 28, 1:00-2:30 at the Bethel Town Office Meeting Room on Main Street. Free - participants will also receive a free DVD to continue practice at home. Space is limited so pre-register: Jackie Cressy (, 824-0508).

Soup & Ski – every Wednesday, 10:00 am to noon, $12 per session at the Trails Center at the Bethel Inn. FMI: 824-6276,

January 5, 2017

We feel honored! Last week the Associated Press published a feature article on age-friendly initiatives; the subtitle was "Bethel, Maine is one of over 130 communities committed to enhancing seniors' quality of life." The article quotes Caroline Gould on how our Volunteer Driver Network (824-4444) has helped her and her family, and John Holliday is cited as walking on the Bethel Parkway and using the walking program. Both Caroline and John are in photos appearing in newspapers across the country.

The aforementioned walking program resumes on Jan. 10 – Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30-2:30 in Gould Academy's Bingham Gym.

The new Bethel Village Trails Center at the Bethel Inn Resort announces a new cross-country ski program especially for Seniors and others who don't like to ski alone. The Soup & Ski activity will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at a cost of $12 per session. Skiers should report to the Trails Center at the Bethel Inn at 10 a.m. for assistance with trails and such. They will ski with companions for two hours and then report back to the inn for a simple soup lunch. FMI call the Center: 8246276 or visit

SENIOR VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: A New Year's shout-out to Maryvonne Wheeler and Bethel's District Exchange, which she's directed for about a dozen years. As you probably know, the Exchange is a valuable community resource for those who have gently used clothing to donate and for those who would like a great deal on clothing purchases. Maryvonne and a small crew of volunteers work tirelessly to provide this service, and they need a volunteer to work the first Saturday of each month, 10-noon. You and another volunteer would be manning the facility, and responsibilities would be accepting and organizing clothing donations and handling purchases. FMI and to volunteer: Maryvonne Wheeler (, 8362330).