Davis: Who you gonna call?
The state of Vermont, and especially Windham County, is blessed with a wealth of human service organizations. They are all doing important work, but one has stood out for me for years because of the amount of resources that they provide to people. That is Senior Solutions, formerly known as the Council on Aging.
Senior Solutions serves Windham and Windsor County and as they state on their website, "If you're seeking resources for successful aging in Southeastern Vermont, Senior Solutions is here for you. We serve residents aged 60 and up, and the people who care about them. If we don't have what you need, our goal is to connect you with someone who does!"
I am on the Advisory Council of the organization as an official representative of Guilford but I have had dealings with Senior Solutions over decades, both personally and professionally, and they have always been my go-to place for all things senior.
They recently held a strategic planning session and I was surprised to find out just how many programs they are involved with. They don't always provide direct support but they have an integral part to play in every organization they interact with. Here is the list: 3SquaresVT, Meals on Wheels, nutrition/education Counseling, community meals, Matter of Balance, transportation, PEARLS, eldercare Clinician, self-Neglect investigation, Choices for Care, Veterans Independence Program, short-term case management, Options Counseling, assistance with benefits, Senior Companion, caregiver assistance and classes, caregiver grant, information and referral and insurance counseling.
That is an outrageously comprehensive list and it means that Senior Solutions is always looking for ways to expand its financial and human resources. They operate with a nearly three million dollar budget that is broken down into the following expenditure categories: nutrition services, caregiver support, senior helpline, administration, case management and other services.
On the income side their funding includes: Older Americans Act 35 percent, Choices for Care 14 percent, other federal 12 percent, general fund 28 percent, other state 6 percent and local/other 5 percent. It is always a struggle for such a broad-reaching organization to find the money it needs to operate but somehow, despite the strange political winds these days, they manage to survive.
On a practical level, here's how the organization operates. Assume you are 70 years old and you are in need of in-home services, you live alone and you want to stay in your home as long as you can. Who can you turn to? If you call Senior Solutions they will help evaluate your situation and provide you with the information you need to help you find support. They will also provide a local case manager who can advocate for you as you try to navigate the human service system. That is no small task.
I often receive calls from people asking for resources for themselves or elderly parents. I give them the Senior Solutions Helpline number: 1-800-642-5119 or 1-866-673-8376 and tell them to call me back if they don't find what they need or if they need more help. No one ever calls me back.
In addition to compassionate and expert case management, Senior Solutions is an excellent resource for people turning 65 who have questions about Medicare enrollment and the Medicare Part D drug plan. I consider them the experts and tend to refer people to them rather than to try to tell people what I know. They are the experts.
Besides the nuts and bolts of Senior Solutions there is another aspect to their organization that has always impressed me and that is the quality of the people they hire to do such difficult work. They are smart, compassionate and caring people who don't look at their work simply as a job. They are eager to engage in meaningful interaction with people in need and they don't stop that interaction until needs are met.
Real people helping real people in need. That is what Senior Solutions is all about.
Richard Davis is a registered nurse. He writes from Guilford and welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.
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