The new Gathering Place is a real gift to this area
I am so excited, and trying to figure out how to get all the rest of you as excited as I am! We here in the Deerfield Valley will shortly be given a really big gift. We have chosen to live in a rural environment for all the beauty, freedom, and peace rural living affords. However, along with that inevitably comes the loss of urban convenience. For the most part our state government remains nearly oblivious to our existence. Shopping for almost anything except food and medicine means a 20-mile trip down the mountain to Bennington or Brattleboro.
So, how did we get so lucky to have the interlocking health services we have here? We have the MOOver and Green Mountain for transportation, Butterfield Common for senior housing, SASH for health care coordination, the Deerfield Valley Health Center for nearby medical care, and NOW the brand new Gathering Place, a senior day center serving older adults and adults with disabilities, an extension of the highly praised and prized main location in Brattleboro. How did we get to have all this? Think about all the other rural communities totally bereft of all these linking services.
The new Gathering Place will open in mid-May. It will begin with 15 to 20 participants, some new and some the folks who until now had to travel down the mountain to Brattleboro for this service. Once fully operational the center can accommodate a maximum of 55 people, from 8 am to 5 pm five days a week. The $17 cost per hour can be met in several different ways. Options exist under Medicaid. Long term insurance can pay. There are small grants available as well. If you wanted or needed to pay for the full time nine-hour day, five days a week out of pocket, that would be $153 per day and $765 per week, though very few people would probably need so much time. Compared to going into a nursing home, it is a steal.
I spent a whole day at the one in Brattleboro with a Hospice patient. I thought it was terrific. The lunch was tasty. The activity that day was a man from the Vermont Natural History Museum who brought a gigantic owl and lots of pelts and talked about native wildlife. I was mesmerized by that owl. I fully expect that someday I will be utilizing this service. The MOOver volunteer driver will pick me up in the morning and take me (the six miles only) to the West Dover site (where the Chinese restaurant used to be). I will socialize with my valley neighbors there, get a good, hot lunch, see a movie or get some educational presentation, enjoy one of the five or six simultaneously occurring activities, and then get driven home again. Since I live alone, I will get the benefit of ready made socialization and supervision, obviating hiring someone to either live in or hang around all day in my house. I will be able to safely shower with supervision on site at the Gathering Place as well.
The state of Vermont has the second oldest population of the 50 states and Windham County has the fastest growing senior population of any county nationwide. By 2030 one in five people here will be over 65. This presents the greatest social, and economic force in state history. Within that senior population is an enormous pool of experience, knowledge, and skills. Our society is going to have to find a way to use all that talent. Ageism and the prejudice against being old is going to have to change because not only is it wasteful, it is just plain stupid to ignore all that available talent. I, myself, have been retired for 20 years. I do not like it. I am very frequently nearly bored to death. I have had to scratch around to find something meaningful to do with all my extra time. Left to my own devices I would probably lie on the couch and read all day. But that is very unhealthy, and, thankfully, I have friends who prod me into getting out and doing something. The new Gathering Place is a real gift to this area and we all should be so grateful to Mary Fredette, the force of nature, who made this happen.