IN THE NEWS | Silver Linings: The prescription for preserving your memory

The following article is written by Roberta Baker and appeared in the Silver Linings section of the New Hampshire Union Leader on Nov 3, 2018.
Click here to read this article on the Union Leader website.

MANCHESTER — At age 92, Ellie Freedman is legally blind and uses a rolling walker to navigate the halls of her retirement community. But she has a keen ear for breaking news and Red Sox winnings, and stays sharp by leading a study group on America’s founding fathers for 25 other residents at Birch Hill.

She’s also an executive editor for the Banner, the continuing care retirement community’s 12-page newspaper, which involves assigning stories, juggling layout and editing submissions and photos — which she does with the aid of a magnifying machine. Last month she gave a presentation at the Currier Museum of Art on the architect who designed her Bedford home.

When it comes to preserving memory and cognition, she doesn’t waste words. “You use it or lose it. It’s the same as any other muscle. For many of us, it’s 70 years since we studied anything. I need this to keep my mind going.”

Freedman’s prescription for aging well, and avoiding the minefield of memory and cognitive decline, comes close to experts’ guidelines for preserving mental agility and forestalling dementia. Social interaction, intellectual stimulation, and challenges that don’t simply repeat a comfortable routine are keys to preserving brain function in later years, according to memory research. Read more

Fitness takes off at Birch Hill!

Bernadette Stephens, the new Fitness Coordinator at Birch Hill has hit the ground running. Since her arrival, she has more than doubled the number of classes being offered, and best of all, her classes are well attended by residents, who enjoy the wider variety of classes and fitness programming. This photo is of a recent Tuesday stretch class.


Birch Hill resident, Joe Couris, was recently honored by the New England Patriots as the team’s honorary “Captain of the Pats” during the coin toss before the pre-season game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Pats surprised Joe on game day with the honor after Joe’s son Geoff gave the team a heads-up that his father was a B-17 pilot during World War II. The team was impressed with Joe’s military service and presented him with an official jersey and invitation for Joe and Geoff to go on the field for the pregame practice/warmup period.

The Pats found one more way to give something back to the 97-year-old veteran by then inviting him on the field for the coin toss. Geoff was floored by this, as was his Dad, and of course he accepted the team invitation. The father and son were ushered onto the field with the team for what became an experience of a lifetime.

“It had now become surreal for me and I assume him as well.” Geoff said. “The energy, the activity, the respect from team members was something I just can’t find words for.”

Birch Hill has a New Fitness Coordinator!


Melissa Lee is a native of NH, and brings a wealth of energy and passion to her new role as Fitness and Wellness Coordinator at Birch Hill. Melissa has a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education and a Master’s Degree in Adult Education and Development, both from Plymouth State. She has spent the last fourteen years working in the Lakes Region of NH improving healthy living opportunities in communities. She is a trained facilitator in many health education and management programs such as Matter of Balance and the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management program. She is also a Registered Health Coach and a licensed Zumba Gold and Strong Women Strength Training instructor. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys kayaking, spoiling her pets, and spending time on the coast of Maine.

New to the fitness room are additional pieces of equipment such as a rowing machine, leg press, recumbent bicycle, step machine, and a variety of strength building equipment.

Our new expanded fitness schedule offers classes including- Strong Women Strength Training, Zumba Gold, Better Balance, and Qi Gong along with a weekly walking group.

See July’s Fitness Schedule Here


Have you been researching or planning a move to a Retirement Community?

When should you start to plan? What are the differences between the types of Continuing Care Retirement Communities?

Cathleen Toomey,  Vice President of Marketing at The RiverWoods Group, answers many of your questions in the July issue of New Hampshire Magazine.

“Ask the Experts: New Hampshire Magazine’s Guide to Retirement Living and Continuing Care.”

See the article HERE


Friday, June 8, 2018

After a long winter, it was time to clean-up and finish some projects at Birch Hill. Together, staff refreshed a lot of trim paint, cleaned up our siding, enjoyed a wonderful BBQ lunch, and planted a beautiful memory garden outside of the Memory Care Center at The Manor. Perennials, flowering shrubs, small fir trees, thornless rose and raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes and herbs were all planted.

Special thanks to Emily Lannan and Ron Trexler; two Master Gardeners who have been volunteering their time on the MCC garden project for well over a year now, and to everyone from RiverWoods who came down from Exeter to help.

We can all be proud of what we accomplished on the grounds of Birch Hill!



Carrye Schenk is crowned Ms. NH Senior America!

June, 1, 2018 at Birch Hill, Manchester, NH

The Ms. Senior America Pageant is the world’s first and foremost pageant to emphasize and give honor to women who have reached the “Age of Elegance.” It is a search for the gracious lady who best exemplifies the dignity, maturity and inner beauty of all senior Americans. The Ms. Senior America philosophy is based upon the belief that seniors are the foundation of America, and our most valuable treasure.

About Carrye Schenk

Ms. Schenk is a published artist and illustrator and at the ceremony, she presented a self-narrated video of her artwork, and received a sash. Joyce Craig, the Mayor of Manchester, NH was in attendance, and three former Ms. Senior Americas were in attendance: Ms. New Hampshire Senior America 2011, Katherine Salanitro, Ms. W. VA Sr. America, Carolyn Cottrell and Ms. Massachusetts Senior America 2007, Fran Owens.

Carrye modeled the gowns she will be wearing when she represents the State of New Hampshire in the Ms. Senior America Pageant. Birch Hill Executive Director Linda Phypers says, “I’m proud to congratulate Carrye on this achievement. It represents not only her own commitment to continued growth and self-development throughout her life, but the appreciation of vibrant gifts and talents all senior Americans have to share.”

Carrye came to live at Birch Hill in 2017 after many years of living in the Burlington VT area. A graduate of Ohio State with a BFA, She worked as interior designer and is an award-winning professional artist. She is involved in many organizations including the national alumni chapter of her college sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, Beta Nu Chapter, Vermont Handcrafters, National League of American Penwomen, Green Mt. Chapter and the Birch Hill Social Events Committee. Carrye also volunteers in the Birch Hill Pen Pal program with St. Benedict Academy, among others. She has many creative hobbies and enjoys painting, drawing and making hand jeweled Victorian ornaments.

About Ms. NH Senior America

See Carrye’s Art

Union Leader Article

Birch Hill is Featured in the NH Sunday News!

Mike Cote’s Business Editor’s Notebook in the NH Sunday News: Seniors getting comfortable with continuing-care retirement.

Residents Ken Snow, Gloria Schmidtchen and Peg Forand talk about life at Birch Hill. Photo credit: Thomas Roy, Union Leader.

Read the article here



A check for $5, 000.00 was  presented to Captain Mike Harper and his wife, Major Armida Harper of the Salvation Army, Manchester, on April 16.

The residents along with volunteers and friends were able to raise this amount in two weeks.. an incredible effort!

Congratulations to all the Residents and supporting Staff at Birch Hill!


Top: Birch Hill Residents fundraising team: L-R, Zee Morse, Gloria Haskell, Alan Dustin, Sylvia Broady, Priscilla Papp, Chair, Louise Pryor, Peg Forand, Mary Chesebrough

Bottom left: Captain Mike Harper and Major Armida Harper with Priscilla Papp, Chair

Bottom right: Birch Hill employee volunteers, Rob Deoleo Asst. Dir. Dining and Judith Haven, Dining.  Not pictured, Betty-Jo Roy, Social Events Coord., The Manor


Birch Hill is very community-minded and it is a tradition for Residents to raise money annually for a local charity. This year, The Salvation Army’s Kid’s Cafe was the recipient.

The Kid’s Cafe opened in Manchester, NH in 1994, serving a handful of meals, two nights a week. It has grown to serve a group of inner-city children so that they can have a safe after-school environment.  In addition to helping the kids with their school work, there are games, snacks and crafts. A hot dinner is served complete with tips on table manners by young adult volunteers who attend local colleges. Today, more than a hundred meals are served each night. The need for The Kid’s Cafe arises from parents not being home after school and having to work long hours at low paying jobs. Keeping the children safe is the highest priority, and helping them develop their academic and social skills is another. Priscilla Papp, from the Resident Council, served as Chair for the fundraising drive that was held the first two weeks of March. Some of the activities included: Ice cream social, numerous raffle prizes to local restaurants and businesses, a hugely successful bake sale, bingo, bowling tournament and trivia games.

A total of $5, 000.00 was raised! A formal presentation ceremony will follow.

Congratulations to all the Residents and supporting Staff at Birch Hill!

From top left, Priscilla Papp, Chair, kicks off the fundraising, Kid’s Cafe ribbons for sale, raffle tickets for sale, Nina Kanteres makes a sundae, Priscilla Papp pins a ribbon on Linda Phypers, Exec. Dir. of Birch Hill, Peg Forand works at the bake sale, Theo Eklund sells a ribbon to Pat Cobb, Betty Jo Roy, Social Events Coord. at the Manor helps out at the ice cream social.