By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Region – State officials interacted with guests at the 34th annual Senior Conference, held April 24 at Hudson High School. For the sixth year, the free conference was hosted by state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, for constituents from 14 communities in the Middlesex and Worcester District including Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough (precinct 3), Southborough and Westborough.
“The legislative delegation in this area works very hard for seniors,” Eldridge said.
Workshops and health screenings were offered in classrooms throughout the morning. In the auditorium, silent films were screened with piano accompanist Richard Hughes of Hudson. Available in the gym were tai chi, yoga and Zumba.
Following a luncheon, guests assembled in the auditorium where Eldridge introduced speakers including state Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, who co-chairs the Legislative Elders Caucus. After a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning took the lives of seniors in her district, Hogan and State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan worked together toward Senior SAFE. Hogan noted that the fire education program for seniors was recently passed in the 2014 budget.
“We’re going into a budget right now,” she added. “We’re going to be very aware of things like Meals on Wheels and the SHINE program. Your councils on aging are right up there on the frontlines, dealing with you every day and dealing with us every day.”
The importance of communication between elected officials and constituents was emphasized among the speakers including Elder Affairs Secretary Ann Hartstein.
“All of your elected officials, and all of us who work for them, don’t know what you think unless you tell us,” she said.
Secretary of State William Galvin recommended that seniors call his office toll-free at 1-800-269-5428 when dealing with risk investments.
“Before you give any money to anyone as a risk investment, make sure they are licensed and registered in Massachusetts,” he said. “If there’s a risk involved, make sure you know who you’re dealing with and you know what the risk is.”
State Treasurer Steve Grossman urged seniors to call toll-free 1-888-344-6277 or check online at findmassmoney.com for possible good news.
“One out of every 10 of you has unclaimed property,” he reported. “Last year we returned to the people of Massachusetts over $103 million of unclaimed property.”
Reminding everyone that he’s a candidate for governor, Grossman noted that the fastest-growing population in Massachusetts is older adults.
“When I become governor in January, I pledge to you that I will make the secretary of elder affairs a full cabinet position, reporting directly to the governor,” he said.
Attending the Senior Conference for the first time was state Sen. Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester, whose district includes precincts 1, 2 and 4 in Northborough. Chandler said she was so impressed by the conference that she’ll consider hosting one in Worcester.
“I’m a proud senior,” she proclaimed. “I understand and share many of your issues and concerns. My best message to you is to live fully every day.”
Other elected officials mingling with guests were U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-3rd District; state Auditor Suzanne Bump; and state Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough.
Entertainment was provided by the Southborough Senior Songsters. Delivering patter in between songs was Bill Harrington, chair of the Southborough Council on Aging. He noted that studies have linked group singing with mental health and wellbeing benefits.
“This group is testimony of that theory,” he declared.
Ranging in age from 60 to 92, the chorus crooned ‘40s classics and concluded by leading a sing-along of “God Bless America.”
Several door prizes were raffled including a lift chair donated by Bouvier Pharmacy in Marlborough and membership to Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston.