Marjorie Lake, a member of Monadnock at Home, inside her room at Summerhill Assisted Living. Lake attends social events Monadnock at Home organizes. Staff photo by Benji Rosen
Staff photo by Benji Rosen
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
HANCOCK — The Carlsons’ home is as full of life as they are. An eclectic collection of knee-high stone statues loop around the yellow clapboard house. A collie and two cats scamper inside, where the smell of tobacco lingers in the living room. The home, with its two stories, countless steps and four acres, presents a challenge to Margaret, 85, and Jack, 88, who depends on a walker to move around.
Yet, the Carlsons are able to stay in what they call their “castle” because they know help is just a phone call away.
“If all of a sudden the water pipes freeze, or the septic system didn’t work, we just pick up the phone and call Cindy [Bowen],” said Margaret, referring to the executive director of Monadnock at Home, a group that helps seniors live independently at home. Bowen and her staff will then run down their list of over 100 professionals and volunteers to match the Carlsons with the help they need.
The Carlsons are among the more than 100 members of Monadnock at Home, one of the recipients of the Ledger-Transcript’s 6th Annual Spirit of Giving award.
The mission of Monadnock at Home, formed in September 2010, is twofold. One is to support senior citizens who wish to hold onto their independence by remaining in their homes. The services it offers at a discounted rate includes maintenance, transportation, grocery shopping, yard work and meal preparation. The other goal is to ensure its members don’t become isolated. Monadnock at Home offers social and educational opportunities, such as luncheons or a visit to Terrapin Glassblowing Studio in Jaffrey. It offers these service to the eastern Monadnock region.
Membership is $600 per year for a household and $450 for an individual. The nonprofit also offers a limited number of subsidized memberships for those who can’t afford the standard rate.
The organization is fulfilling a need of aging seniors. According to a survey the AARP conducted in 2012, 85 percent of senior citizens would prefer to age in their own homes.
There is also is an ever-growing need in the region and the state to provide more of these services, since New Hampshire has the third fastest growing older population in the U.S., with the most growth in older and rural counties, according to the Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services.
Jack and Margaret say that as they age, remaining at home isn’t becoming easier. While Jack battles mobility problems, leaves must be raked and wood stacked. Monadnock at Home arranged for the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at ConVal High School to perform hours of yard work for the Carlsons. Margaret said a former NASA engineer also volunteered to install five mobile phones throughout the house, allowing the Carlsons to answer their phone faster.
If a couple or individual eventually can no longer live in their home, Monadnock at Home will continue to provide them services so they can retain independence. Marjorie Lake, 93, moved to Summerhill Assisted Living in July, after she suffered a slight stroke, she said. But, she remained a member of Monadnock at Home so she can, not only retain independence, but also not become lonely.
In addition to being driven to doctors’ appointments, Monadnock at Home has brought Lake to Terrapin Glassblowing Studio in Jaffrey, the Harris Center for Conservation for Education in Hancock and other social events.
“Monadnock at Home is like friends,” she said, from a rocking chair inside her room at Summerhill. “They treat us like an individual.”
Benji Rosen can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenjiRosenMLT.