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Kayaking for Seniors at NewBridge on the Charles

NewBridge CCRC provides new launch for paddlesports
NewBridge residents take to the Charles River in their kayaks

On a gentle spring morning, the Charles River winds and flows its way through the 100-acre nature preserve on the NewBridge on the Charles campus, quiet but for frogs on the shore and birds in the air at this time of year. Then the sounds of chatter from an adventurous group of NewBridge residents and friends rise over the river as, along with their guide from the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery School, they help each other don water safety vests as they prepare for a morning kayak trip on the river.

For many it was the first time they tried kayaking. For all it was the first time they kayaked on the Charles River and fully explored the natural beauty of their own backyard. The newly built canoe and kayak launch on the NewBridge campus made it all possible, just a short walk from their front doors.

For seniors who love paddle sports of all kinds, NewBridge is one of few continuing care retirement communities in the United States with a canoe and kayak launch. The launch provides access to the Charles River waterway. At 80 miles, the Charles is the longest river within Massachusetts. The stretch of the river along the NewBridge campus is identified as the Dedham Water Trail.  Wildflowers, wild rhododendron, and abundant bird and aquatic life can all be spotted from the banks of the Charles. 

The Dedham Water Trail was designated a National Scenic Recreation Trail in 2014. The water trail offers a complete loop of the Charles and includes trail markers at environmentally and historically significant locations with a guided interpretive map. 

Resident Peter Halfon expressed his enjoyment of the kayaking trip. Although Peter was one of the first residents of NewBridge six years ago, he had never been on the Charles River or done much kayaking.

"I will kayak more here at NewBridge in the future, and look forward to exploring more of the river trail," Peter said. "Maybe some residents will even share in the cost of a canoe or kayak that we can use together." 

The addition of our canoe and kayak launch and our relationship with the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery School makes it easier than ever for residents in our community to take advantage of new activities and see new sights in their community. The launch adds to our array of recreational activities that can be enjoyed on the NewBridge campus and acknowledges the widespread interests of our residents.

Senior living communities today should be more than tennis courts and swimming pools—the senior living experience is one of exploration. We can think of no activity that fits the bill more so than a paddle down the river to survey local ecology. 

Kayaking can be great exercise for older adults. It’s an opportunity to experience nature up close and personal that few sports provide. Kayaking for enhanced mental and physical health puts you right in the moment. It fully engages both body and mind in nature.

Some seniors may be reluctant to try kayaking for fear of upending their kayak and falling in the water, or struggling to get in and out of the kayak. Today you can find a kayak designed for greater stability on the water, as well as kayaks with paddle grips and seating supports customized to fit the individual. 

Adaptive paddling devices can help compensate for functions the paddler has lost due to disability or other physical limitations. With a little practice and the right instruction, you’ll quickly learn how to get in and out of a kayak while keeping your balance. Practicing first on land is a great tip for beginner kayakers.

Kayaking is also a great multigenerational sport. Easy and accessible enough for all ages, kayakers can share a mutual outdoor experience at the same level, providing an opportunity for all generations to explore and share the richness of the river ecosystem together. 


About Hebrew SeniorLife Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Hebrew SeniorLife offers a variety of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in Massachusetts, open to residents of all backgrounds, faiths and cultures. A CCRC is an organization that offers a full range of housing, residential services, and health care in order to serve its older residents as their needs change over time. Their mission is to give older adults easy access to a continuum of care that ensures residents enjoy independent and productive lives with the support of social and health care services.

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