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Healthy Living for Our Seniors #BainbridgeTogether

October 4, 2020

Our more seasoned citizens, coming from all walks of life, bring decades of experience to our island. Many of our local nonprofits have recognized the invaluable knowledge and resources they contribute, as well as the need to offer a consistent level of healthy exercise and activity. Community centers bring people together to share experiences with peers and participants of all ages, and study groups draw guest speakers and discussion leaders to discuss topical issues. Programs also offer dance, gardening, and cooking classes, as well as organized walks help maintain the joy of movement.

Compared to the rest of Kitsap County, Bainbridge Island has the oldest age median of 47.7 years. Washington State’s median age was 37.7 in 2017, or 10 years younger than the average age on our island. These numbers illustrate that the aging of our population on Bainbridge is higher than in most other areas of the region and the state. Of the 65+ age group living in poverty in Kitsap County, 9% live on Bainbridge Island, which is the highest rate when compared to other age groups.[1]  Providing support for the older age group, especially individuals who are in need, is critical to the health of our community.

Research has shown that walking every day can enhance mobility, reduce pain, and bolster immune systems. Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District (BIMPRD) has a Walk with Ease program which is specifically focused on boosting activity and education about exercise for seniors. One participant declares that organized walks with BIMPRD have been life-changing. “This program makes a world of difference to me,” she said. “My doctor thought I needed more activity, and that is true.  I now have more energy, and my balance is better. Beats taking more pills!” Other programs for our seniors focus on mental and emotional health. The Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network, or BARN, brings different age groups together through craft—sharing skills and experience in a variety of creative forms. PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap has a program specifically focused on matching PAWS senior pets with low-income seniors (called Pets and Loving Seniors, or PALS). This is a permanent foster program where PAWS will cover the cost for pet food, litter, and vet visits so that individuals who are 65+ and living alone have companionship without the concern of unexpected expenses.

The Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center creates a comfortable space for peer-to-peer interaction, and holds various study groups to engage each other in a wide range of key topics—more recently initiating conversations about race, equity and inclusion. Reed Price, Executive Director of the Senior Center, says “Our community’s seniors are delightful, engaged and intelligent… and they are worthy of our respect and support. While many are putting the best face on our current circumstances, seniors are absolutely among the most at risk for isolation and loneliness. It’s a tough time to be separate from family and friends, which makes our engagement so vital right now.”

Bainbridge Community Foundation supports our local nonprofits by providing analyses of community needs, awarding grants to meet those needs, connecting donors to nonprofits, and encouraging collaboration.  BCF also awards grants through its Community Response Fund to support our nonprofits during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. You can learn more by signing up for Bainbridge Community Foundation’s newsletter by emailing media@bainbridgecf.org, visiting our website at www.BainbridgeCF.org, or following us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, or #BainbridgeTogether).

To learn more about #BainbridgeTogether, click here. Click on the links below to read about our nonprofits highlighted every week:

Week #1: Caring for Our Children
Week #2: Educating and Enriching the Lives of Adults and Families (Part I)
Week #3: Supporting Adults and Families (Part II)
Week #4: Healthy Living for Our Seniors


To learn more about our local nonprofits that support our seniors, click on the links below. If you would like to donate, you can give directly on their website or go through the One Call for All directory.

Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN): Bainbridge Island Artisan Resource Network (BARN) uses arts and crafts as a way to bring people together. They encourage seniors to connect with youth during their programs to share their skills and experiences, with a goal to create a true community center for participants.

Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District: For 50 years the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District has served the community through its stewardship of parks, and by providing recreational and cultural programs to Islanders of all ages. Walk with Ease is one of their outdoor programs for seniors, and is an evidence-based curriculum developed by the Arthritis Foundation. It is offered by certified instructors to sedentary seniors, resulting in increased mobility, decreased pain and bolstered immune systems.

Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation: The Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to improving the Island’s parks and trails and to expanding recreational opportunities. They partner with the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District and other organizations committed to public parks and open space, and focus the interest and enthusiasm of the community to support unfunded parks and trails projects.

Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center: The mission of the Bainbridge Island Senior/Community Center is to enhance the independence and quality of life of people in the community as they age. Their focus is the wholeness of a person, including diet and exercise, social connectedness, life-long learning and the ability to reach needed services. The Senior Center has also been the leader in creating a resources website for seniors, adults, and youth called Bainbridge Island Resource Directory in partnership with Island Volunteer Caregivers, Helpline House, Housing Resources Bainbridge, Kids Discovery Museum, Peacock Family Services, and Kitsap Regional Library.

Bainbridge Prepares: Bainbridge Prepares is dedicated to supporting our community through communication and awareness, because when everyone is connected and informed, the island thrives. A collaborative blend of individuals, organizations, and local government, Bainbridge Prepares is actively making the island community more resilient through mutual aid among residents.

Bloedel Reserve: Bloedel focuses on enriching people's lives through a premier public garden of natural and designed Pacific Northwest landscapes. Its Nature & Well-Being programs activate the senses and encourage healthful, personal growth and discovery while immersed in nature. Strolls for Well-Being at Bloedel has also created a COVID-friendly “Strolls at Home” program, available for all ages.

Island Volunteer Caregivers: Island Volunteer Caregivers works within community to support life-enriching connections between caring people and the elderly and persons with disabilities to enable their independence, dignity, health and well-being. They do this by providing transportation to medical and other necessary appointments, offering companionship, performing light household chores, running errands, preparing meals, playing games, and much more.

Dispute Resolution Center of Kitsap County: The Dispute Resolution Center provides mediation, facilitation and training services to help individuals, families and organizations resolve conflict. The DRC services offer people in conflict powerful strategies to open communication and find lasting solutions.

Helpline House: Helpline House offers an umbrella of social services and invites the community to become part of a circle of giving and receiving help. Helpline offers a variety of essential services, including outreach to food bank users—many whom are seniors or families with children—to assess for a variety of program eligibility that can contribute to stabilize the household financially or emotionally.

Housing Resources Bainbridge: Escalating rents and real estate prices threaten the social and cultural diversity of Bainbridge Island. Some are young with families, some are retired, some are disabled, and many do vital work here that keeps the community going. HRB’s mission is to preserve the diversity and vitality of Bainbridge Island by providing and maintaining affordable housing opportunities in the community.

Kitsap Regional Library Foundation: The Kitsap Regional Library Foundation (KRLF) proudly supports our community by facilitating charitable gifts that advance the Library's mission: Inspiring our community to dream more, learn more, do more and be more. Public library systems like Kitsap Regional Library (KRL) play an essential role in providing safe, accessible, and 100% free educational resources and are supported by your tax dollars. KRL works in partnership with Bainbridge Public Library (BPL), a nonprofit that owns, operates, and maintains our library building and grounds solely through the direct support of its generous donors. KRL provides the staff, books, and library resources.

Martha & Mary: Martha & Mary provides quality, compassionate care and intergenerational experiences for children, adults and seniors regardless of faith, ethnicity or economic status. They offer those served caring rehabilitation, a safe place to grow and learn, and an opportunity to live with dignity, honor and individuality.

Music Community Resources: Music Community Resources values the importance of live music in our culture and works to preserve and nurture the cultural tradition of live music events. This is accomplished by expanding performance opportunities for musicians, community education through audience experience, teaching the etiquette of live performance to young musicians, organizing benefit concerts, bringing live music to nursing homes, hospitals, and shelters, and similar activities promoting the performance of music. The organization also provides artist development for young and emerging musicians.

PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap: PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap honors the bond between seniors and pets by providing a range of services. Studies have proven that people who live with pets have lower rates of heart attack and heart disease. PAWS is looking for people over 65 who live independently and would like the companionship of a pet but whose finances won’t stretch to pet ownership—PAWS will maintain ownership of the pet, but will help individuals pay for food, litter and vet visits.

Peninsula Community Health Services: The PCHS mission is to provide accessible, affordable, quality health and wellness services for our communities. Patients come from all walks of life, and PCHS services are available to them without regard for ability to pay.

[1] Source: 2019 the Kitsap Interagency Coordinating Council (KICC) report: <https://kitsappublichealth.org/information/files/CommunityAssessmentKICC_Annual.pdf>