Ethos and partners offer blow-out for seniors in May

Mattapan seniors will see ice-cream socials, a Hawaiian luau, and a senior prom as facets of the fourth annual SeniorPalooza sponsored by Ethos and its community partners next month. More than 80 free and open to the public events will offer seniors and their families the opportunity to get active, meet their neighbors, and learn about local elder services.

Dale Mitchell, executive director of Ethos, said SeniorPalooza is an opportunity to mobilize various elements of the community around the issue of aging. From elected officials to neighborhood associations, businesses to healthcare providers, Mitchell said Ethos has more community partners this year than ever before - "a sign that Mattapan may indeed be one of the more fertile grounds for having ongoing conversations" around keeping elders in the own homes as long as possible.

Based in Jamaica Plain, Ethos is a non-profit organization that provides elders with home and community health care as an alternative to nursing homes. Many people think institutions are the only option when people are no longer able to care for themselves, Mitchell said, but the 2,000 people that Ethos provides care for each year are "proof that one no longer has to go into a nursing home - that people have the right to stay home much longer, oftentimes to the very end."

Elders help stabilize communities, Mitchell said, "Their presence is a connection to the past," and they are more likely to take care of their homes, shop locally and "become a grounding element for communities that are otherwise going through lots of change."

Home is where more than 95 percent of seniors would prefer to be, Mitchell said, and "not being able to do what you want can become a very psychologically destructive event for older people. In institutions, it becomes an event that quickly degenerates to death. Keeping people at home and in their communities around support systems they have in place, helps keep people engaged and feeling positive in their life."

The events, held partly in honor of Older Americans Month, will kick off May 2 with the 15th anniversary celebration of Café Sant Grandet. The site was Boston's first Haitian elder services program, created by Ethos as a response to a wave of Haitian immigrants arriving in the city.

The AgeWell Mattapan Eldercare Resource Expo on May 20 will be an opportunity for people to encounter various non-profits and businesses doing work on behalf of elders, Mitchell said, followed by a town meeting on how to make Mattapan a more elder-friendly community.

The celebration will come to a close May 29 with the fourth annual senior prom - the most popular event of past years. "It's a really fun, uplifting, celebratory experience," Mitchell said.

A full schedule of events will eventually be available at ethocare.org and as an insert in the May 1 editions of the Mattapan and Haitian Reporter newspapers, or call Linda Monteiro at 617-522-6700, extension 338.

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