Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Wenham, Massachusetts, needs assessment, aging, dementia, age-friendly communities


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Gerontology


Wenham is a small residential community of approximately 5,000 residents located about 22 miles north of Boston. Public transit access to downtown Boston located in the neighboring town of Hamilton provides access to employment and recreational activities outside of the town’s boundaries. In addition, Wenham is home to abundant green space (e.g., wetland systems and Wenham Lake) that provide residents with opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The Wenham Council on Aging (COA)is a municipal department designed to serve the needs of Wenham’s residents age 60 and older. It is responsible for advocating on behalf of Wenham’s older adults and with enriching their lives by providing social, financial and health programs and services. The COA relies on a combination of Town funds, grants, user fees, donations, and volunteer services. The Wenham Senior Center serves as the hub through which COA programs and services are delivered, some of which are available to residents of all ages, including selected transportation services, access to information and referral services, and volunteer opportunities. Currently, 20% of Wenham’s population is age 60 and older. It is expected that older adults will continue to make up a significant portion of the community in the coming years. Commissioned by the Wenham COA, this report will serve to help the COA and Town to better understand Wenham’s current assets, potentials, and challenges, and to plan for changing town and community needs.

In June of 2018, Wenham was accepted into AARP’s network of Age-Friendly Communities. The Wenham COA has taken the lead in planning for Age-friendly designation and will use the contents of this report to guide the development of an Age-Friendly Action Plan. Further, the COA and the Town have recognized the importance of discerning the specific needs of residents living with dementia and their families in this work. As a result, they have been intentional about the inclusion of residents living with dementia and their families in the initiative. This initiative is referred to as Wenham Connects.

At the request of Jim Reynolds, Director of the Wenham COA, and with the financial support of the Town of Wenham (via reallocation of Community Compact funds), CSDRA was contracted to conduct a demographic profile of the community, key informant interviews, and focus groups to draw upon insights from the community about current ways in which Wenham is already an age-friendly community, and suggest areas in which it could improve. This report is the result of that process.

Community Engaged/Serving

Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //



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