By JULIE FIGLAR & RINA FRANCHINO
Township Leadership means that we are tackling the three most important needs of senior living: 1) health 2) wellness, and 3) socialization.
We must strive to create programs exclusively for our senior population whether you live independently in your home, in age restricted housing, participate in seniors’ clubs and organizations or simply looking to take advantage of community programs.
Health – Studies show seniors need to be healthy to age in place. Walking and movement improve seniors’ independence, life expectancy and also improves cognitive function. That’s why we are proposing partnering with the County to develop walking paths along the Passaic River. Further, we would work to help create a separate, “seniors only” trail that would allow for slower movement, like walking, as opposed to running or biking.
Wellness – Once our Municipal Complex is completed, we propose investigating programs ranging from yoga to line dancing by rewriting our Community Development Block Grant, utilizing federal funds we currently receive, to include funding for these programs.
Socialization— Giving our seniors an opportunity to socialize and congregate fights isolation, depression and memory loss, while supporting brain health. That’s why it is important to provide town-wide social events like a “Valentine’s Day Bingo” party, “Seniors Rock- Block Party” or “Give Thanks to our Seniors Thanksgiving Bonanza” sponsored by the Township. This will seek to engage all of our seniors, but it is going to take all of us doing our part to volunteer to help make this happen.
Recently, we were happy to learn the Mayor and Township Council took quick action in forming a Berkeley Heights Senior Citizens Advisory Board, but there is more work to be done. Many surrounding towns offer great senior citizen programs and if elected, we are eager to learn from our neighbors and even partner with them to make our community the best it can be. We look forward to working with our senior community.