Joann Erenhouse: Senior Solutions | Consider representing your community on our Advisory Council

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We want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Senior Solutions Advisory Council for all their guidance, input and support. We meet monthly at the Bellows Falls Senior Center on the last Wednesday of the month. From 1 to 3 p.m., we cover a lot of topics. From introducing new staff members and saying "good-bye" to longtime team members, to talking through the challenges of serving our clients and the public during the COVID-19 period, we learn a lot from these reliable and dedicated community members. It is from them that we receive input about what their communities are facing and how they have been coping. In addition, many of the council members have wonderful skills and experiences that enrich our ability to be creative and responsive to the needs of aging Vermonters.

Our only dilemma is that we still have several communities who do not have representation on the council. In these days of voter apprehension, it makes me more conscious that perhaps we simply have not asked for representatives. We want to make sure that we want to include all the towns we serve. Presenting programs, advocacy, benefits, and helpful information is not as productive if we don't hear what is happening in each community. Representation is a reflection of the state's goal to create "person centered" health care in our community centered programs.

To ensure that we not only include a representative from the following communities, but that we also connect and cooperate with the organizations within each community, I am inviting individuals in each community below to please contact me, or anyone you know at Senior Solutions to volunteer as an Advisory Council Member. Jerenhouse@seniorsolutionsvt.org and call 802-885-2669 (our HelpLine). We will gladly welcome you, orient you, introduce you, and include you in our mission, goals, and team.

Our request goes out to: Athens, Barnard, Bridgewater, Brookline, Hartford, Londonderry, Norwich, Pomfret, Searsburg, Townshend, Weathersfield, Whitingham, Windham, Windsor, Winhall, and Woodstock. We realize that many towns are far away from Bellows Falls. However, we are meeting via Zoom and plan to continue this option for any members who can't attend in person in the future. Being an Advisory Council Member helps us and your community. Thank you very much.

On some other topics, we have news about Medicare Open Enrollment starting Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. Call the HelpLine at 802-885-2669 to set up an appointment with our Medicare specialist who will guide you through the process. Whether you are just becoming eligible, want updates to help you change your coverage, or want to help someone who is going to become eligible, this is the best place to gain unbiased information. We do not sell insurance, nor do we charge for the advice. A "Boot Camp" is scheduled for Sept. 25 as an additional resource. Call the Helpline and give your email information so you can receive the Zoom invitation for the course. Our Medicare specialist will be interviewed on BCTV this week and the program will air later. We will be sending this recorded program to the several public television outlets throughout Windham and Windsor Counties. In addition it will be loaded on to our www.seniorsolutionsvt.org website and available on BCTV's website and on our You Tube channel by Oct. 1. So, make sure you check these resources out to get the best Medicare bang for your buck.

Register and vote if you want your voice heard. So many programs for nutrition like Meals on Wheels, Food Pantries, 3Squares, education, health insurance coverage, and basic human rights depend on your votes. On Sept. 3, Executive Director Deanna Jones of the Thompson Center in Woodstock testified at the State Health and Welfare Committee on behalf of the H.611 legislation for the Vermont Older Vermonters Act to provide funding to meal providers to help add to the financial support for meals. Many senior centers receive inadequate funding. Senior Solutions distributes the funds that we receive; however, there is never enough money to fully cover the rising costs experienced by the providers. They do so much work to raise the funding shortfall to continue to serve their populations.

We all need to pull together to make sure our legislators understand the depth of the nutritional needs our aging Vermonters are quietly living with. Senior Solutions is constantly looking for new resources to help relieve hunger, loneliness, depression, health and medical needs as well as ways to find extra benefits through Older Americans Act funds, National Council on Aging benefits programs, and private grants. We are here for you. Please call 802-885-2669 if you are 60 or older or disabled.

Joann Erenhouse, Esq., is the community relations director for Senior Solutions.

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