Thinking about retirement? Stay in Ridgefield
Ridgefield takes care of its senior residents — and it’s apparent by glancing through the directory of services put together by the Ridgefield Commission on Aging.
The commission has mailed out books to all seniors for the past six years — for free — containing information about all the programs, discounts, and activities they have access to in town.
According to the U.S census, 22.7% of Ridgefield’s population is 60 and over.
“When seniors speak to people in other towns, that’s when they realize that we have so much more for seniors than any town around here,” said Christine Robertson, president of the Commission on Aging.
“I mean, they have the Commission on Aging and everything, but somehow they don’t do what we do. It’s one of those things where everyone here just wants to help seniors.”
All Ridgefield seniors have access to a free Founders Hall membership, a community center where they can get together, play cards, take fitness and educational classes, and go on trips.
“As we get older, there’s a lot of us who live alone,” said Founders Hall regular Jim Christiano, “and places like Founders Hall are fantastic.”
“It’s like our living room — or our home away from home,” added Conte Guzman-Hoffman, who is taking art and Italian classes.
She said that many people come a few times a week — including herself. Christiano, a Ridgefield resident for the past 30 years, comes every day.
“I also spend lots of time at the library — if I’m not there I’m here [Founders Hall],” he told The Press.
“I was struck by the friendliness and the openness of the community. It’s just a nice place.”
He said he knows many people who come to Ridgefield seeking out a helpful senior community.
“There are a number of people who have moved here specifically because of Founders Hall and the opportunities that it offers you with your retirement years.”
The town offers seniors a free Gold Card membership with access to discounts and gifts from a number of participating local businesses, departments and organizations, such as the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the Keeler Tavern Museum, Ridgefield LIbrary, the Ridgefield Playhouse, the Ridgefield Community Center, Ridgefield Public Schools Continuing Education, the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, Founders Hall, and the Ridgefield Golf Course.
Gold Card holders may also obtain a free Charter Oak Pass allowing them access to Connecticut’s state parks and recreation system as well as a lifetime fishing or hunting license.
The offerings are updated and renewed every year.
Some of the resources listed in the Commission on Aging’s directory include “Are You OK?” a program sponsored by the Ridgefield Woman’s Club and the Firefighters Association providing daily calls to check on people’s safety — at no cost.
It also lists several energy assistance programs that help seniors pay for their heating and electric bills as well as where to go for financial and legal assistance.
Housing for seniors includes Ballard Green, Ridgefield Crossings, and Prospect Ridge- Congregate Housing for assisted living.
A SweetHART bus is available to any senior in Ridgefield Monday through Friday to move throughout the town — trips must be reserved 24 hours in advance.
The Town Loop bus provides rides on Wednesdays, every other Friday and every other Thursday through a route around the town.
Rides for Ridgefield is a non-profit with volunteers who give rides to residents 60 and over throughout the week.
Guzman-Hoffman moved to Ridgefield in 2011 because of its walkability. She lives in Casagmo.
“It’s a very convenient town. I’m trying to think what it lacks and I can’t come up with anything,” she said.
She was pleasantly surprised when she found out about the International Club.
“I was pleased to discover even a little town also has the International Club — I’m from San Francisco,” she said.
The RVNA provides home care to persons with dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke conditions, and other chronic illnesses.
Seniors wondering about their Medicare coverage may call the RIdgefield Department of Social Services to speak with a CHOICES counselor about the different plan options.
Support groups ranging from cancer to substance abuse are also available at a local and national level.
There are a number of programs that assist with nutrition, such as Meals on Wheels of Ridgefield.
“It’s very good, too,” said Robertson. “They all do the cooking — they don’t get things from companies, like junk food, in other words.”
The Town Hall houses a food pantry with nonperishable food and other items that is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
The Ridgefield Rotary hosts a food drive the first Saturday of every month.
Spreading the word
Robertson says that not enough seniors know about all the resources available to them.
“Some people just have no idea what’s going on in town,” she said.
“You try to get information out to them, but it’s hopeless.”
That’s why it’s important for residents to tell others about any services that might be useful to them, Robertson said. Lots of older residents rely on word of mouth to get their information.
Guzman-Hoffman said there are several people in Casagmo who she believes would benefit from all the resources available, but don’t know about them.
“Maybe people get it and they’re not aware of what a treasure trove it is,” she said about the directory.
“Sometimes you get stuff in the mail and you don’t realize it’s useful. And I’m not a gregarious person, I’m really not inclined to come up and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to go to Founders Hall.’”
Nonetheless, the town does serve a large population of seniors, and Robertson is proud of all Ridgefield has to offer.
“All these things is why Ridgefield is the No. 1 place for seniors,” she said.