Isolated seniors concern Ridgefield selectmen

Concern that some seniors are isolated in Ridgefield was part of the wide-ranging discussion as four new members — Andrea Beebe, Lynn-Marie Wieland, Cathleen Savery and Laura Giovannoli — were appointed to the town’s Commission on Aging.

The four were named to the commission on a 4-to-0 vote of the Board of Selectmen, and isolation among seniors will be among the challenges facing them.

“There are seniors aging in place here in Ridgefield,” said Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark. “They can’t sit home alone by themselves all day.”

“Many seniors don’t talk to one person a week,” said Beebe.

“It’s important for folks to get out of their homes,” said Selectman Steve Zemo.

“Aging in place — it’s hard,” said Selectwoman Barbara Manners.

There was talk about programs that pair senior citizens with younger people, who spend time with them. Wieland had done some reading on the subject.

“Little kids in really down-trodden neighborhoods gravitate to seniors — grandmas — because they have time to listen,” she said.

The motion to appoint the four new commission members was made by Selectwoman Kozlark and seconded by Selectwoman Manners, following interviews with three of them.

Advocacy, listening

“I spent seven months fighting for senior rights for pickleball,” Beebe told the selectmen. “It created a lot of social outlets.”

Wieland’s volunteer work in town has ranged from serving on the steering committee that founded Meals on Wheels to various school committees, the Graveyard Committee, and work on a Charter Revision Commission. Now she’s interested in the Commission on Aging.

“I think the commission should be an advocate for seniors,” she told the selectmen.

Cathleen Savery had served a five-year terms as a tenant representative to the Ridgefield Housing Authority. In that role she heard the concerns of people living in the Ballard Green Housing for the Elderly and the Prospect Ridge Congregate Housing.

“I really honed my skills in listening to what people have to say,” she told the selectmen.

Hard worker

Laura Giovannoli wasn’t at the Sept. 18 meeting with the other candidates. But Selectwoman Kozlark spoke up for her, and with four candidates for four vacancies, she too was voted onto the commission.

“I know Laura Giovannoli very well,” Kozlark said, explaining that they’d been neighbors. “She was a nurse, I think she’d be a nice addition, as well — someone who’s a very hard worker.”

Selectwoman Manners said the candidates all “have a lot to contribute to a commission that has done outstanding work.”

She mentioned town’s Gold Card Program, which allows Ridgefield seniors to get discounts in participating local businesses and cultural institutions.

“It’s a wonderful commission,” Manners said.