Council on Aging sees 600% rise in attendance

Mar 26, 2024

In the roughly year-and-a-half since director Sharon Rice joined the Council on Aging, membership has increased from 367 attendees to over 2,200, an approximately 600% increase. 

“There was a good foundation already in place,” including the council’s core programs, Rice said. 

With a background in creating event programming from a career in publishing, she built a robust and varied series of events to build up the center’s calendar. 

“I have an attitude like I’ll try anything,” Rice said. “If people like it, I’ll keep it, and if they don’t like it, if they don’t support it, then, you know, there’s no harm in trying.”

Many of the programs the council has tried have taken off. Bingo is wildly popular, as is chair volleyball — people like that as much as they like pickleball, Rice said. 

Another popular program, Drums Alive, brings seniors together to make music on yoga balls placed inside large buckets. 

The Drums Alive program is so popular that when the class’ previous instructor left, one of its regular members got certified in the program so she could take up the teacher’s mantle. 

The programming helps keep people active and give them a sense of community. The social services the council provides helps people find that community without needing to move to a nursing home. 

The council doesn’t provide services directly to those in need, but it does work to connect people with the services that are available. It works with providers such as the Greater Boston Food Bank for food support and with organizations like Old Colony Elder Services to help people with home needs such as laundry services, housekeeping and meal prep. 

“Many times they are able to provide home services and keep the person in their home, which is where they want to be, as long as they can do it safely,” said Rice. 

By providing programming and connecting people to services, the council hopes to keep people healthy and active. 

“The Council on Aging is about living, not about dying,” Rice said.