Vermont may be tiny, but we sure are mighty
by Aging in Place: Claudette Hollenbeck
Dec 18, 2017 | 1104 views | 0 0 comments | 63 63 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I am very tickled to report that tiny, but mighty, Vermont ranks third in the nation as a place where long-term care and aging in place works well. Washington state ranks first and Minnesota second. We tend to focus on the things that are not happening and/or functioning well here. But still we rank higher than 47 other states. As in so many other things, Vermont is a humane place to live. We, at least, try.

We have a program called Choices for Care here which will pay a spouse or relative to do the personal care at least part of the time for a disabled or elderly person. This is a Medicaid program out of the Department of Disability, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), which, of course, because it is Medicaid, has income requirements. Choices for Care is for folks who do not have deep enough pockets to pay for home health care themselves, especially not over a long period of time. You can go on line and research the finer details of this program, call Senior Solutions at (800) 642-5119 for help, and/or utilize the services of a disability lawyer.

Disability law is a specialty. I know the very word “lawyer” sends some folks into spasm, but there are situations where the route is so specific and the details are so complicated, that investing in “good” legal assistance is really the only sensible course of action. If you are caring for someone with dementia or a debilitating stroke, these are very long-term problems and can deplete the bank account of a Rockefeller.

For years and years I battled as a social worker and also as a relative of a disabled person with the dumb situation of two different pots of money under Medicaid – the inpatient funds and the outpatient ones. Each group guarded their own and nobody seemed to see that care would be much better and much cheaper if the two pots became one. The reason Medicaid has come up with Choices for Care and also funds SASH (Support and Services at Home) is because in the end they finally figured out that they could save huge amounts of money. If you can care for someone in their own home rather than in a nursing home, Medicaid saves tons of money. Most people do not want to go into an institution, and only do so as a last resort. The rebalancing of Medicaid has enabled Vermont to develop additional long-term care solutions and even if you have to go from the hospital to a nursing home, now it is more possible to make that stay short term instead of for life.

The SASH program that we have here in the valley does just that service. Everyone over 65 should be signed up, especially people who live alone or do not have nearby relatives. The SASH nurse comes once a year to check up on you and update her file on your health. You do not see her again unless you need help getting in or out of a hospital and finding services to help you stay at home once your crisis is over. Call (802) 464-0438

Jennifer Fitzgerald, our town nurse in Wilmington, and I have been co-leading a free caregivers support group every other Sunday afternoon at 4 pm, at the West Dover Congregational Church. It has been going strong for soon to be five years. The issues that these long-term caregivers are facing are staggering. Yet they keep on truckin’. Anyone who is mired in the situation of long-term caregiving is more than welcome to join us. Jennifer is a treasure trove of information and resources. Fitzgerald can be contacted at (802) 681-8740. I just keep everyone on topic. The members are SO good for each other. It is a wonderfully safe place to talk about your struggles because everyone else understands. For information please call (802) 464-5156.

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