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This is part of a series of articles focused on the area nonprofit community and the impact on our region.

Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging (SVCOA) exists to be a community force in creating and sustaining opportunities for elders and caregivers in our region to help assure that elders are able to maintain maximum independence and quality of life.

SVCOA coordinates local services to assist clients in those areas where help is needed to maintain their independence. One impact of the pandemic is that our older neighbors were left in deteriorating situations when in-home care was cut for social distancing. The lack of minimal in-person help with bathing, laundry, dishes, cleaning, and the daily tasks that promote good health and hygiene left some of these clients with the choice of moving to a skilled care facility, which is a higher cost, both in mental and physical health and in state tax dollars. SVCOA Case Managers, working with local partners and the state, found unique client-centered solutions that allowed these clients to maintain their independence: A Roomba vacuum, a counter-top dishwasher, tablets for communication (telemed appointments, Roomba control, and less isolation), SVCOA’s volunteer grocery program and virtual sessions with a mental health caseworker.

SVCOA’s Caregiver Support Program has seen a surge in family caregivers who need support due to a lack of respite help, isolation, and overwhelming emotions that accompany caregiving and a pandemic. This program provides respite grants, phone support, educational programs, Memory Cafés, and assistive/adaptive devices to help them in their caregiving. SVCOA partners with Rutland Mental Health to provide caregivers with clinical caregiver counseling which includes emotional support and ways to take care of themselves. Caregiver endorsements say it all: “This has been an actual lifesaver for me. A whole new world of knowledge and perspective has been opened up to me thanks to this counseling service”. “This has taught me the importance of taking care of myself so that I can more effectively take care of my husband…”.

Call us at 802-786-5990 to find out about more programs SVCOA provides to meet the growing and changing needs of aging Vermonters.

Ellen Green, Communications and Volunteer Coordinator

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