Discover ‘Recipes from Historic New England’

November 30, 2009  
Filed under Food

Recipes from Historic New England” is a coffee table book, cookbook, and travel book designed to delight the senses and ignite your love of travel. Legendary resorts, hotels, and fine restaurants provide the way to venture into new arenas of taste and travel. You will be pleasantly surprised to see a broad range of diversity in American cuisine and the fabled venues that provide a sense of history along with magnificent ambience.

Discover the stories of each of these renowned restaurants, enjoy the fine architecture, and tantalize your taste buds with some of America’s most delectable dishes while discovering the stories that are intertwined with the very history of America. Fasten your seat belts for a flavorful and fun lesson in American history, mystery, and taste! “Recipes from Historic New England” chronicles the birth of our nation by featuring icons of American cuisine and history. From the famous Parker House rolls to the amazing scenery of The Mount Washington Hotel and Resort to the solitude of the Inn at Sawmill Farm each site was chosen by the authors with a strict set of guidelines and each has so much to offer the reader, cook, and traveler.

Economy Is Down, So Homesharing Is Up

November 30, 2009  
Filed under Aging Parents

With the economic downturn, many more people are turning to homesharing to help make ends meet.

In the past year, HomeShare Vermont saw a 39 percent increase in people needing an affordable place to live. The local non-profit agency also saw more homeowners who needed financial assistance with rent or utilities to be able to stay at home. In the past, most homeowners were looking primarily for services and help to stay at home, but now help with rent is a greater need.

The average rent for new homesharing matches this year was $164/month. While still affordable, that is up from previous years.

HomeShare Vermont has noted a real difference between the rural and urban towns in its three-county service area. In Chittenden County, for example, there are many more people looking for a place to live than there are homes available. In Grand Isle and Addison counties, volunteers have done a great job encouraging folks to open their homes, but are finding fewer people wanting to live in the more rural areas. Despite these imbalances, HomeShare Vermont saw a 39 percent increase in placements over the previous year.

The services offered by HomeShare Vermont focus on recruitment, screening and matching and are are customized to the individual. HomeShare Vermont provides comprehensive screening including five different background checks, and requires at least three positive references including landlord references. In homesharing, participants are able to choose who to live with based on who is most compatible. HomeShare Vermont staff and volunteers stay actively involved in all matches to help with changing needs or any issues which may arise.

Homesharing is an old fashioned bartering arrangement where someone with a spare room in the home needs a little help, such as companionship, help with meals or simply a protective presence in the home, and is matched with someone who is looking for an affordable place to live and can offer an average of ten hours a week of service. An affordable rent or help with utilities can also be part of the exchange.

For more information, visit www.HomeShareVermont.org or call 863-5625.

Defining Vermont’s Senior Housing Options

November 30, 2009  
Filed under Aging Parents

By Don Manders

Six levels of senior housing are available in Vermont, categorized by the type of accommodations they offer. They range from totally independent living communities to continuing care retirement facilities, and there is a legal definition of some, particularly if personal assistance is required for residents.

• Independent Housing offers private residential units with kitchen and dining areas, bedroom(s), bathroom(s), and living areas. These are barrier-free with emergency call features, are complemented by housing management and maintenance services, and are geared toward independently functioning people. These facilities usually don’t offer regular meals, housekeeping, or home health services.

• Congregate Housing offers private apartments in a complex that contains central dining and other common areas. This type of facility is for those who want or need some supportive services including dining, housekeeping, home health and other assistance.

• Assisted Living offers private living units and bathing facilities in a complex with common dining and activity areas. Facilities are geared toward those who have difficulty functioning independently and who often require oversight. These residences provide an array of services, including 24-hour staff, full meal plans, transportation services up to three times per month, nursing assessment, care planning and oversight, medication management, as well as organized activities programs. The Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living licenses and regulates these residences.

• Shared Homes offer private bedrooms and either private or shared bathrooms, with common living, dining, and kitchen areas. Geared toward seniors wanting a home-like setting, shared housing offers support services such as daily meals, service coordination, and light housekeeping. Residents can bring in hospice care, but these homes are not designed for those with intensive medical needs.

• Residential Care Homes (RCHs) are licensed and regulated by the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. There are two categories of RCHs in Vermont – Level III and Level IV. Unlike Assisted Living residences, RCHs are not required to be barrier-free or to offer private accommodations and baths, although many do. Both levels of licensure provide general supervision, personal care assistance, organized activities and transportation services up to three times per month. Level III RCHs also provide nursing oversight, medication management and 24-hour staffing, while Level IV RCHs do not.

• Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) combine independent housing, congregate housing, and assisted living with the availability of nursing home care. These communities require a significant upfront investment, and residents also pay a monthly fee. CCRCs serve the entire older population and offer individual residents the benefit of remaining in their community as care-level needs increase.

Veda Lyon, Manager of the Community Development Unit for the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, contributed to this story.

Vermont’s (and America’s) ‘Quiet Big Bang’

November 30, 2009  
Filed under Health & Wellness

By Jeff Maker

Some of the early writings on the subject of Alzheimer’s Disease can be traced back as far as the late 1960s, when a then youthful and engaged baby-boomer generation began to take stock of the country’s political and social direction, ultimately shaping and influencing public policy on both fronts. Though small in number at the time, the authors, primarily University and college professors—those who recognized the historic significance of this cohort and its eventual economic imprint on our society—hypothesized about the potentially acute challenges that the U.S., and the rest of the industrialized world, would be facing at the turn of the century when this huge demographic would begin retiring. Their initial predictions?: The long-term adequacy of private and public sector pension plans, federal entitlement programs, labor pools, investment returns, tax revenues, social services, and health care needs, would be severely tested. No aspect of American life would go unchanged.

Fifty years ago, however, few, if any, paid much attention to the prognostications. The general populace wasn’t interested in futuristic forecasts, since, well, “there was plenty of time”—several decades in fact—to decide what policy, social and fiscal actions warranted attention in regard to the “boomer issue.” Besides, there were other valid public policy distractions taking precedence in the ‘60s and ‘70s—a “far away” (Viet Nam) war; the economy; the environment. Even baby boomers themselves were not worried (let alone thinking) about “getting old” and the fiscal repercussions that would eventually follow. Nor was there the slightest concern or talk about an even more ominous crisis to unfold on the demographic horizon—nothing said about a debilitating disease that might strike millions among them, slowly robbing them of their minds and eventually proving fatal. The word Alzheimer’s rarely—if at all—was part of anyone’s vocabulary. Again, the future seemed light years away, so there was no need to fret about such things. Right? After all, only “old folks” had memory problems, and it was because they were “old” that these “senior moments” occurred, so why worry. Back then, preoccupying boomers’ lives were more important matters: establishing careers, raising children and building an economy. Policymakers, too, were focused elsewhere.

Fast forward to the 21st century and 2009: We’ve all heard the number—78 million baby-boomers, nearly 190,000 of whom reside here in Vermont, are now older—much older.

There are whole groups of researchers scattered across the country, focusing on the economic and social implications of a rapidly aging population, trying their best to apply the tools of analysis to pry valid findings –  that can be replicated – from a shifting mass of data, warning with more urgency now of the impending demographic storm and resulting economic tsunami, hoping to encourage policy makers to finally take serious notice, and accordingly, take corrective measures.

With projections that millions of baby-boomers will swell the ranks of millions of people who are already afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, this looming crisis should be on everyone’s radar screens, especially those whose charge it is to formulate public policy and direct priorities on legislative and funding agendas.

Presently, there are nearly 45,000 Vermonters directly affected by this terrible disease. By mid-century, without a cure, that number could increase three-fold to well over 110,000. And, while today there are other valid public policy distractions—the economy; jobs; the environment—the emotional and financial toll that Alzheimer’s disease is having on family members, co-workers and our neighbors throughout the state should have everyone’s attention.  Alzheimer’s is Vermont’s (and America’s) “Quiet Big Bang.”

The Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living this year released its State Plan on Dementia and a critical finding of this report is that Vermont is ill-prepared to manage the growing prevalence of dementia (Alzheimer’s) and lacks the infrastructure necessary to continue to support a rapidly aging population. November was National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, but focus on helping the growing number of local residents living with this debilitating disease must be done year-round.

2010 is an important statewide election year in Vermont, and I would urge all those seeking public office to not let Alzheimer’s be a passing thought and, when elected, apply—at the very least—the same importance and meaningful actions to Alzheimer’s as they would toward fixing our roads and bridges; creating jobs and protecting our environment. Vermont’s “Quiet Big Bang” should resonate in every town hall, and more importantly, in Montpelier.

Jeff Maker, Sr. is the Executive Director, VT Alzheimer’s Association and Member of the Governor’s Commission on Alzheimer’s.

Home On the Houseboat: Consider the Cruising Life

November 30, 2009  
Filed under Travel

By Dick Mills

In 2005, my wife Libby and I retired. Unconventionally, we rid ourselves of all property, house, cars, furniture and all, and invested in a cruising sailboat. Our boat, Tarwathie, is a Westsail 32. Westsails are famous as being among the most rugged, seaworthy, and affordable cruising sailboats ever made. We invested only $60,000 to buy the boat and to equip her for extended cruising.

Since then, we have been cruising nonstop. We had early ambitions about circumnavigation and sailing to Alaska, but we soon learned how wonderful the USA’s East Coast, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean are. The sailor’s paradise is right here in our backyard. Grandchildren are also a powerful magnet that keeps us from straying too far from home.

Like geese, we migrate south in the fall, and north in the spring. We spend most winters in Florida and the Bahamas. So far we spent two summers in Maine, and three in our favorite place – Lake Champlain. In our opinion none of those exotic places are better than Champlain. In the fall and spring seasons, we explore the delights of Chesapeake Bay and the inland waters of North Carolina. Does that sound like a permanent luxury vacation? It is!

You don’t need to be rich to enjoy the cruising life. It is a frugal life style. We live on Social Security plus a little bit from savings. We have no other pension. About one third of our budget goes to boat repair and maintenance. It would cost two or three times more to live in retirement on land. We would have to pay mortgage or rent, utilities, taxes. We would need a car and pay for repairs, replacement, gas and insurance. We would need to own furniture and TV, winter clothes and countless other possessions. We can’t afford to do anything other than cruise.

There are only a few secrets to frugal luxury living on a boat. Avoid marinas, avoid restaurants, do your own repairs, and be healthy. The active lifestyle even helps with health. Cruising sailors tend to be slimmer and fitter than any other group of the same age.

Some people say that cruising sailors live greener than just about anyone. Perhaps so.  Wind supplies our transportation; solar panels provide electricity. We also use about 400 gallons of diesel plus 30 pounds of propane per year. Those fuels provide supplemental transportation, cooking, refrigeration, heating, cooling, and entertainment. Significantly, we have no TV. If we did, it would double our energy use and negatively affect our lifestyle.

We took an online carbon footprint test. It said that we create 0.8 tons of CO2 per year for the two of us. Only people in Bangladesh use less. A single airplane trip for just one of us would produce more carbon than the two of us consume in a year.

We like articles about minimalist housing. Cruising sailboats are already designed for minimal, self-sufficient life. People have been refining boat design for 12,000 years.  Tarwathie has a full galley with stove, oven, fridge, freezer, and sink, living room, sleeping room, bathroom, closets and numerous storage lockers. We carry enough food, fuel, and water for 2 months. We store wastes for proper disposal on land.

What we don’t have is excess space. Our living space is about 160 square feet. We also have a guest bedroom/store room of about 50 square feet. A visitor once commented, “I’ve been in jail. My cell was bigger than this, and I didn’t share it with anyone.”

We don’t mind; we’re very comfortable. Did I mention that husbands and wives should get along exceptionally well if they want to live this life?

Lack of space has an unexpected side effect. It helped to cure us of consumerism. Before buying something new, we must throw something else away to make space.

We keep in touch with family and friends even when out to sea where there are no cell phones and no Internet. We use our HAM radio to post articles to our blog (dickandlibby.blogspot.com) nearly every day. We posted more than 1,300 blog articles so far. We also have regular readers from 39 countries that follow our blog. Readers say they dream of cruising themselves and live the life vicariously via the blog.

Interested? We have one piece of important advice for would-be cruiser. Day by day you are probably not getting much richer; perhaps even poorer. Yet every new day brings a chance that a new health problem may come along that could make you or your spouse unqualified to live life separated from doctors. Good health is a prerequisite for cruising.  Therefore, stop dreaming about cruising and start acting. Do it today.

Dick and Libby Mills are formerly from Essex Junction and South Burlington.  (dickandlibbymills@gmail.com)

Mistletoe Art Fair at the Essex Shoppes and Cinema

November 30, 2009  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Betty Borah is one of the 36 members of the Essex Art League who will be participating in the Mistletoe Art Fair during the first three weekends of December. The fair will be held at the Essex Shoppes and Cinema (the fashion outlet mall) on Route 15 in Essex Center.  The shop space for the fair is between Hannafords and Factory Brand Shoes.

Hours: Fridays 5-8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Essex Art League is an association of over 100 artists from the greater Chitttenden County area who share their interests and expertise in fine art and photography and display their work throughout the year.

Several members are full time artists while the majority are retired art and design professionals as well many others who have taken up art in retirement years. The artists will have originals, reproductions and other art products such as note cards available for sale. For more information call 862-3014 or visit essexartleague.com.

Vt. Poet Wins Senior Laureate Award

November 30, 2009  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Regina Murray Brault, 71, Pushcart Prize nominee from Burlington, has won the 2009 Vermont Senior Poet Laureate Award for her free verse “Mother Tongue” in the 17th annual national Senior Poets Laureate Poetry Competition for American poets age 50 and older. She won the National Senior Poet Laureate Award in 1996.

Yvonne Nunn, dean of the Cyber-College of Online Poetry, served as administrator of the 2009 Senior Poets Laureate competition in which laureate poems from all states competed for the national laureate prize. Details about the contest appear in the online anthology GOLDEN WORDS at www.amykitchenerfdn.org

MOTHER TONGUE

By Regina Murray Brault

In the trailer park
where diapers snap on clotheslines
like flags in semaphore
the child cradled in my arms
lies swaddled in
the rhythms of her world.

She hears a thrush song
from the thicket
and searches with her eyes.
bird I tell her
and wish her wings.

And when she shivers to the breeze
that shakes pine needles
from their boughs
I whisper wind
and wish her grace.

She looks to me
while sprinkles dance staccato
on our metal roof.
rain I say
and wish her gentleness.

She gathers all these sounds of life
like nosegays edged in baby’s breath
and stores them in her throat.
Then, in a voice
as soft as summer showers
meadow music
whiffs of wind

She names me Mama.

Book Urges Caregivers to Care for Themselves

November 2, 2009  
Filed under Aging Parents

To Weep for a Stranger: Compassion Fatigue in Caregiving” by Patricia Smith is a guide for caregivers to understand and address compassion fatigue, a secondary traumatic stress syndrome that results in providing care without practicing authentic, sustainable self-care.

Written from the perspective of a compassion fatigue survivor, the book offers an explanation of the phenomenon and features personal anecdotes and observations, tips and techniques, a comprehensive quality of life self-test, a life stress test and a list of suggested workbooks and training materials for caregivers.

Local Caregiver Resources

November 2, 2009  
Filed under Aging Parents

Armistead Caregiver Services             Shelburne     288-8117     www.armisteadinc.com

Converse Home                                     Burlington     862-0401     www.conversehome.com

Ethan Allen Residence                         Burlington     658-1573     www.ethanallenresidence.com

Home Care Assistance                          Burlington     735-1290     www.homecareassistance.com

Living Well ResidentialCare Home   Bristol     453-3946     www.livingwellcarehome.org

Starr Farm Nursing Center                 Burlington     658-6717     www.starrfarmnc.com

The Arbors at Shelburne                     Shelburne     985-8600     www.seniorforliving.com

VT Assembly of Home Health Agencies     Montpelier     1-800-HOMECARE
(466-3227)     www.vnavt.com

Financial Help for Family Caregivers

November 2, 2009  
Filed under Aging Parents

Dear Savvy Senior,
Q. I’ve been taking care of my elderly mother for nearly a year now and it’s wearing me out both physically and financially. Is there any way I could get paid to be her caregiver?

A. To get paid as your mother’s caregiver there are several possibilities you should check into, and a variety of support services that can help, too. Here’s what you should know.

Caregiving for Pay

Is your mom on or eligible for Medicaid (health insurance for low-income folks)? If so, you may be able to get paid a small amount by the government. In some states, Medicaid offers a Cash and Counseling program that provides direct financial assistance to their beneficiaries, and that money can be used to pay in-home caregivers. A few other states have similar programs for low-income seniors, even if the person receiving care doesn’t quite qualify for Medicaid. To find out about these options contact your local Medicaid office or visit www.benefitscheckup.org – an online service that helps seniors and their families find and enroll in federal, state, local and private benefit programs.

Other Options

If your mom has financial resources of her own, find out if she can afford to pay you herself. If she agrees, it may be a good idea for both of you to draft a short written contract detailing your work and payment arrangements. Or, if your mom has long-term care insurance that includes in-home care coverage, in some cases those benefits can be used to pay you.

Tax Breaks

The IRS may be able to help you out as well if you can show that you pay at least half of your mother’s yearly expenses, and if her annual income is below $3,650 (not counting Social Security). If so, you can claim her as a dependent on your taxes, and reduce your taxable income by $3,650. Your mom doesn’t have to live with you to qualify as a dependent. IRS Publication 501 has a worksheet that can help you with this (www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf).

If your mom’s income however is over $3,650, you can’t claim her as a dependent. But if you’re paying at least half her living expenses, you can still get a tax break if you’re helping pay her medical and long-term care costs and they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. See the IRS publication 502 (www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf) for details.

Support Services

If you don’t qualify for caregivers pay or a tax break, you can still get some financial relief through the Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP). This is a federally funded program that provides aid for specific caregiver needs like respite care or adult daycare to give you a break, counseling and support groups, and supplemental services including the purchase of medical supplies, SOS emergency response systems and even home modifications. In addition to the FCSP, you should also check into home delivered meal programs, volunteer companion programs, and even home and personal care services. These too can lighten your load. To locate all the various programs and support services near you, contact your Area Agency on Aging. Call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 to get your local number or visit www.eldercare.gov.

Savvy Tip:

The best Web resource to search for caregiver support services and programs in your area is the Family Caregiver Alliance at www.caregiver.org. When you get there, click on “Family Care Navigator: State by State Guide.”

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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