Over 60 but not over the hill

By Holly Camero - Correspondent

When she might have been expected to just kick back and enjoy retirement, Pamela Hanson was instead organizing Concord After 60, a social and educational group specifically for senior citizens living in Concord.

Hanson and Ann Schummers, a retired geriatric nurse, were board members of the Council on Aging, when they attended a talk given by a member of a similar group, Lexington at Home.

Nancy Levy, left, Jan Muir, Mamie Edson and Jim Edson, members of Concord After 60. Courtesy photo

“It’s been very successful [in Lexington] and it’s for older people that want to stay in their homes but want a little bit more of a network. It’s a movement that has been going on all over the country in different ways,” Hanson said.

Hanson and Schummers hosted a day-long presentation for seniors living in Concord and surrounding towns, inviting people from Reading and Lexington to speak about groups for seniors in their respective towns. They also put out a call for any Concord residents interested in starting a group in town.

“We asked people at the meeting if they would be on our steering committee. We got a lot of Type A people that loved organizing, loved organizations, loved networking. We ended up with a board of 13,” Hanson said.

Concord After 60 was created in fall 2017 and now boasts more than 70 members and counting.

Regular meetings are held on the third Sunday of every month. Topics have included elder law issues, downsizing, bee keeping, and the history of West Concord, said Laura LeVan, chairperson of Concord After 60.

So far, nothing, including a pandemic, has deterred the group from meeting.

“Even when COVID started we just switched gears and learned about Zoom and for the most part we kept going,” said LeVan.

Now most of the meetings are held in person, however they will revert to Zoom when the situation warrants. Masks and COVID vaccinations are encouraged.

Fun, in addition to learning

It’s not just monthly meetings that keep this group going.

There is a walking group, a book group, an art appreciation group, a lunch group, and a group that will help out in a pinch.

“The emphasis is on people who really want to stay at home and don’t want to go into assisted living,” said Hanson.

The only requirement is that members be over 60 and reside in Concord.

Volunteering within the group – hosting or assisting with an event, leading a group or joining the steering committee – is encouraged, but not required.

“There are no expectations. It’s a low-pressure group,” said Janet Beyer, marketing and public relations chairperson of Concord After 60.

“[According to research] older people need transportation, proper nutrition, good health, a network of friends and they need to give back to society. If you can get all five of those … at the same time, then you have a healthy old person that is meeting their own needs while they are also meeting other people’s needs,” said Hanson.

People are encouraged to present new ideas for meetings and groups and Beyer does a newsletter to keep members up to date on goings on in Concord After 60.

Dues are $25 per person, per year; anyone who can’t afford to pay is encouraged to contact a board member.

New members are always welcome, said Beyer and people are encouraged to attend one or two meetings before joining to gauge their interest.

State Sen. Mike Barrett and state Reps Simon Cataldo and Carmine Gentile will speak at the next monthly meeting which will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 15, at West Concord Union Church, 1317 Main St. in Concord.

For information on Concord After 60, visit https://concordafter60.org