So, you enjoy quilting, woodworking, politics? Well, Augusta has a social group for you.

Seventy-three percent of those who responded to a survey conducted by the Augusta Age Friendly committee ranked Augusta as good to excellent in continuing-education classes or social clubs geared to pursuing new interests, hobbies or passions; and most see Augusta as having activities that offer senior discounts.

Isolation becomes a major issue for many of our seniors, and we must respect our residents and help them get out and get involved. Senior College, YMCA, Spectrum Generations (Cohen Senior Center) and a long list of other organizations offer an affordable variety of cultural activities geared toward older adults as well as younger people, but the city needs to raise awareness of local school events and activities that can involve older adults. Communities that address social inclusion of young and old together thrive the best.

We have a great resource in Cony High School and at the University of Maine at Augusta to put our young and old residents together, to be inclusive of the generations to work together, to share ideas, to help each other out, to have our lives intertwined, to be inclusive in our social fabric. We all need each other to be respectful to one another to be successful throughout our lives. Augusta Age Friendly encourages joint partnerships between Cony and UMA and our senior population to build positive relationship. It’s time to share your ideas with us.

Getting the word out to everyone about all the activities available and then getting the nondrivers there to enjoy them — I ask you again, residents of Augusta, put your thinking caps on and share your ideas on getting the word out. Many do not have computers, so email doesn’t always work. Many read the local paper, but not everyone. We talk among each other, but does that do the trick?

Well, we want you involved. For example, when two retired residents without transportation wanted to go to our public meeting, they reached out and we drove them to an enjoyable evening. Do you want to attend an Age Friendly meeting? Do you have an activity you would want to go to? Have you asked your pastor or rabbi for solutions? Maybe your faith community can do postings of activities. Maybe it already does and you may not be aware. How else can we get the word out? Let’s hear from you. Your ideas are so important to the community.

Augusta will be completing its 10-year Comprehensive Plan in 2017 and we need to ensure it includes our older citizens, our citizens with disabilities, and residents of all abilities so it can serve as a blueprint for our city’s economic growth and well-being for years to come as an age-friendly community.

When speaking of the attributes of respect and social inclusion, we need to come back to our faith community, exemplified by the Capital Area Multi-Faith Association. This is a group of religious leaders in the Augusta area who are there for you. They meet and talk over common issues and work to resolve them together.

Welcome to Augusta, Maine, an inclusive, age-friendly community.

Bob MacDougall is a retiree, resides in Augusta and is a volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program and AARP, often on legislative issues affecting seniors at the State House. He initiated and chairs the Augusta Age Friendly initiative as well as being on the AARP state advisory board. This is the seventh of an eight-part series of columns on the initiative.

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