ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen on Wednesday accepted the "Age Friendly Berkshires Resolution" and pledged to make improvements to the town that would make Adams a better place to grow old.
Council on Aging Director Erica Girgenti told the board that Adams will be the second community in the county to adopt the policy. By accepting the policy, town pledges to seize opportunities to help older adults live healthy lives and be engaged in their community for as long as possible through improving the physical and social environment.
"We are already doing great things in Berkshire County and we need to make sure we continue doing great things," Girgenti said. "We need look outside of the box, think creatively and continue to make progressive positive changes that will have a social and economic impact on our community for the largest population that we are seeing."
By adopting the policy, she said, when the town makes improvements it pledges to better outdoor space, town buildings, emergency preparedness, housing, transportation and health services with the elderly in mind.
She added that the town also pledges to support social participation, respect and social inclusion, civil participation, employment options, and community support for the elderly.
This could be as simple as installing and adult gyms at one of the parks with a plaque that points out some exercises older adults can do or making YouTube videos promoting wellness.
Girgenti said many of these policies and concepts the town has already adopted.
"The good thing about Adams is that we have already done a lot of these great things," she said. "In particular with the Community Development Office that has taken into light some great things in the redevelopment of our downtown and some of the fantastic things that are happening at the [Greylock] Glen."
Girgenti said Berkshire County as a whole has the second-largest 65 and older population in the state. She said 18.5 percent of Adams' population is 65 or older and, by 2020, this is expected to grow to 22.9 percent, according to projections by the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
She said these strategies can also trickle into the town's zoning to help promote better living arrangements for the elderly. She said people want to live as long as they can in their homes and in their communities and the town needs to do all they can to help.
"We have more older adults in this community then we have younger people," Girgenti said. "There are great task forces out there focused on bringing young families in but we can't forget about the people that are still living here."
She said it would be economically beneficial to nurture the town's elderly population because elderly people tend to have more money and like to go out to eat and shop. She added that they are more likely to invest in entrepreneurship opportunities and many decided to have an "encore career." She said Adams could be an inviting place for this.
She said many elderly residents are "snowbirds" who head down south for the winter. She said many of these communities are designed to be age friendly and that Adams should be able to compete with them.
Girgenti said being age-friendly would also put Adams on the map as a tourist location because older citizens tend to travel more.
"I think there is an opportunity to not only develop our town but the county as an age-friendly overall for tourism and second-home ownership for retirement," she said. "People who are retired don't always want to sit home and cook meals every day, and they want to go out to eat, shop and go to museums."
Girgenti added that what is good for the oldest of the old is also good for the youngest of the young and everybody in between.
"What will work for older people will work for our children," she said. "It will help me continue to age here and raise my young child but also care for my parents when they age."
Girgenti said she would also like town staff to take a free dementia-friendly community training course and become certified as a dementia-friendly community.
"Many adults are living with dementia and some sort of memory impairment," she said. "It's very difficult sometimes to recognize the challenges that come along with it and how you can help and assist someone who lives in your community."
She said right now 27 residents who use the Council on Aging suffer from dementia and more than half of them live independently. She said as their condition worsens they will need more help.
Greylock Federal Credit Union employees have gone through the training and if the town goes through the training, she said it will be the first in the state.
In other business, the board acting as the licensing committee voted to allow Thomas Rotolo, owner of Rascal's, to hold onto his liquor license for an additional six months, which is when Rotolo would have to renew it.
Rascal's has been closed and Rotolo is actively trying to sell the bar, and with the license, it will be easier to sell.
The board discussed pulling the license at the last meeting because of state pressure to revoke "pocket licenses" that are not in use.
The board did ask Rotolo to present a plan going forward come November.
"I certainly have no problem giving them until the next renewal period," Chairman Jeffrey Snoonian said. "They have been good neighbors and I don't want to pull the rug out from under them, but we have to look out for the town too."
Also, the Selectmen said the Adams population grew by 35 and according to a recent census conducted by the town, the population is now 8,556.
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