Hampstead Board of Selectmen OKs Age Friendly Community Initiative

By Alex Malm

At the Nov. 8 Hampstead Board of Selectmen, the Selectmen heard from Scott Bogel, the Senior Transportation Planner for the Rockingham Planning Commission.

Bogel explained that the region is in the process of starting an Age Friendly Community initiative with six communities in the region and they wanted to see if Hampstead was interested in joining. The initiative is being run by the Commission along with the Rockingham Nutrition Meals on Wheels and Tufts Health is providing a two year grant for the funding.

He explained that the goal is to work with different communities to understand the needs of older adults in the communities now and the ones they anticipate in the next 15 years.

Bogel explained that this is important because over the next 15 years the population for those 65 years old and older is expected to double in Rockingham County.

He said that the population in the County 65 and older is expected to go from 12.5% to about 28% in that time period.

Bogel said that the trend is also the same for the State as a whole saying that in 2015 about 220,000 people were 65 and older in NH. He said that estimates show that by 2040 that number will grow to about 480,000.

“This is going to mean really a different set of needs for our populations in our communities,” Bogel said.

Bogel explained that the idea is that there would be a steering community in Town made up of residents and town staff and the staff from the initiative would be able to help facilitate conversations.

He said that they would also put out a survey for those 65 years old and older to get input on the current needs and anticipated needs and will also have a community forum meeting in town to discuss it further.

In addition to the local steering committee, Bogel said that there would be one for the region with one staff member from each of the communities on it.

He said that for the local steering committee they would have about four meetings by July along with the town forum meeting.

Bogel said that some of the topics they will be looking at on the steering committees is transportation, outdoor spaces/ buildings, housing, social activities, civic and work opportunities, communication and information, technology, and health and nutrition services.

One question that was asked was which other communities are already part of the program.

Bogel said Portsmouth, Exeter, Stratham, Fremont, and Seabrook are expected to be part of it.

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously in favor of becoming the sixth community to join the Age Friendly Community program for the region.

The next Hampstead Board of Selectmen meeting is slated for Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.