Bedford group helping to create ‘WISE’ seniors

As Director of Community Relations for The Arbors of Bedford, now a Benchmark Senior Living memory care community, Paula Whittier meets daily with families and seniors who are confused about everything from veteran’s benefits to medical care planning.

“Aging is not easy,” said Whitter. “There is so much that comes into play as we get older, and it’s constantly changing. It’s no wonder people don’t know where to turn!”

Last year, to help demystify aging and educate consumers, Whittier assembled some of the area’s foremost senior care experts to form Women in Support of Elders (WISE), a volunteer community group committed to providing the information and education seniors and their loved ones need to thrive.

The group is comprised of Susan Theodorou, R.N. and clinical nurse manager, GPU Elliot Hospital; Judy Loubier, owner and executive director, Seniors Helping Seniors of Seacoast and Southern New Hampshire; Deb Harpin, admission director, Bedford Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center; Francine Gagne, licensed social worker, Elliot Hospital; Karen Shea, elder care attorney; and Whittier. The group meets monthly to share and address challenges seniors face with the goal of offering free presentations throughout Manchester and Bedford. They recently held a workshop on advanced directives at the William B. Cashin Senior Activity Center in Manchester.

“It is a privilege to come together with other women who are committed to providing excellent care to the elderly and to expand our reach by working together to provide education and support to caretakers and those needing care,” said Loubier. “First as a family caregiver for my parents, then through my recent opportunity as an Alzheimer’s Association dementia ambassador, it has become clear that our communities need to know there is a place they can turn to for understanding and to ask questions and find answers. WISE is truly a group of women invested in making a difference.”

Having grown up in Massachusetts with a single mother who was a nurse, Whittier was constantly surrounded by seniors.

“I would do dance recitals to make residents smile. It was so much fun, and I developed such a love for the elderly,” said Whittier, who lives in Bedford. In 2005, she began volunteering as a dining room server at The Arbors.

In her free time, she hosts “The Paula Whitter Show,” an hour-long, call-in show airing on Nashua’s WSMN-AM every Tuesday at 9 a.m. The show focuses on topics of interest to seniors, such as memory care. She also writes a monthly “Dear Arbors” column for The Telegraph.

“I am very proud of the work we are doing – it really connects people to what matters most to them,” she said. “There is such a need for this information, and I feel so fortunate that we can give back by sharing what we know.”