Bright Edges

January 15, 2015  
Filed under Home & Garden

By Elizabeth Hazen
When the sugar and red maples were blown free of leaves, bright coral and salmon leaves covered the hybrid maples along the streets.   Artificial, I thought at first.  Then the picture of an old, old lilac bush came to mind, guarding the vanished cellar hole of a colonial house.
These hybrid maples are trees, growing like trees, behaving like trees, enduring like trees.  Two hundred years from now, when the cellar holes of great housing developments have been reclaimed by the woods, foresters will find sudden groves of color here and there among the hemlocks and oaks and yellow birch of the Champlain Valley. Colors coral and salmon and certainly maple, but uniquely beautiful and undeniably native by then.

Elizabeth Hazen lives in Williston.

Moving? Reorganizing? Local Companies Can Help Ease the Transition

January 15, 2015  
Filed under Aging Parents, Home & Garden

By Peter Culkin
The prospect of moving is almost always a daunting one, at any stage of life. There are a seemingly endless list of tasks, valuable and sentimental heirlooms to carefully pack away for storage and transport and heavy boxes that must be lugged to cars, trucks and moving vans. Facing this task as an older adult, even with the assistance of well-meaning friends and relatives, can feel like a next to impossible challenge.
But there are Vermont businesses that can help with the prospect of moving out of one’s home or simply reorganizing to fit one’s evolving lifestyle. A Tempo Senior Move is one such business, which helps clients with every aspect of the moving process, from overseeing the physical moving itself to helping clients create a new floor plan for their new living space or changing lifestyle. The company was started in 2012 by Alice Abraham, a former music librarian who spent more than 20 years working for the WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston.
“In creating A Tempo Senior Move, I combine my organizational skills with my compassion for seniors to serve the growing need for assistance with planning and moving,” said Abraham. “I understand how to work with the combined physical, cognitive and emotional issues of older adults. I got into this business because I want to be out and about, hands on, helping seniors.”
While Abraham and the other move managers at A Tempo are focused on expediting the physical moving process, they also recognize that the emotional component of moving out of a home can provide additional challenges and are careful to factor in the emotional security of their clients as they help them through what can be a very personal transition. “Safety is always a priority in any situation,” said Abraham. “The logistics of downsizing or moving are overwhelming for people at any age. I focus on the senior — they are the client. I listen carefully to their emotional connections to their things. It’s not about boxes and “stuff,” it’s about respecting and honoring a person’s life and the whole process is a dialogue. As a librarian, I guide them to think of their belongings in terms of categories. It may be cookbooks and art books, or clusters of things that represent different parts of their lives.”
While businesses like A Tempo Senior Move cater to clients throughout New England, there are other resources to assist seniors looking to reduce or simply reorganize their living situation within Chittenden County. Simply Planned VT is another organizational business started by self-proclaimed “natural sorter and organizer” Kerri Oakes. While many of the organizational aspects of the job are similar to the services provided by A Tempo Senior Move, Simply Planned VT focuses on simplifying the living space of senior clients to allow them to more effectively access services and maintain an independent lifestyle in the comfort of their own homes. “Simplicity is why I started my business,” said Oakes. “I believe that we all need a little more of it, including myself. Simplicity is a journey, not a destination. I want to help others with their journey. I define simplicity as having what you need, not the excess.”
The mission of Simply Planned is not one of garbage removal, but a collaborative process between Oakes and her clients that emphasizes communication, understanding and empathy. Furthermore, it is not simply a message of getting rid of excess, but repurposing what is being taken out and often donating these items to contribute towards someone else’s quality of life. Oakes continues to help her clients even after the job is finished, through in-person communication as well as through her Simply Planned blog, which suggests ideas for mini-organizational tasks, as well as DIY tips to help maintain progress.
“What I like to remind my clients is that the feeling or memory is not inside an object, it’s inside you,” Oakes said. “The person purging textbooks from their college years doesn’t mean they’ve lost their degree. Or donating the crystal vase from your fifteenth anniversary doesn’t lessen the number of years of your marriage.”
Whether moving out of a beloved family home, or simply reorganizing and downsizing your possessions, the focus is clear for both A Tempo Senior Move and Simply Planned VT — that understanding and compassion are tantamount to successful transitions and perhaps rethinking collection, storage and what is truly necessary. These are not moving companies that arrive simply to shift cardboard boxes into the back of rental vans.
This is not a science, or an exercise in shifting your valuables as quickly and cheaply as possible. This is a human service, one that could easily be overlooked in our fast-paced world, but one that is vitally important at a time of uncertainty and vulnerability. The moving process, like the process of life, is a journey not simply about where we are going, but how we get there and the love and compassion that we exhibit along the way.

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Housing and Health: The Importance of Place

By Sarah Zobel
Good health. We all know that means good nutrition, regular exercise and at least seven hours of sleep nightly. By extension, it also means a place to store and cook fresh food, access to clean water and air, and a safe bed.
Good health, then, doesn’t happen without secure, accessible housing.
In Burlington and Winooski—areas with the country’s seventh-oldest housing stock—that means homeowners and renters are being made aware of the dangers of lead paint poisoning and given help in abating it. In Addison County, where homes have the highest measured average indoor radon levels in Vermont, that might mean finding affordable approaches to mitigate the problem, which, if unchecked, can lead to lung cancer. Elsewhere, it means that through University of Vermont Medical Center’s Community Health Improvement office’s Falls and Fires Prevention Program, nurses visit the homes of seniors and disabled individuals to evaluate potential risks and offer recommendations to make those residences safer—often doing such simple things as removing a throw rug or adding a grab bar in the shower or a ramp in the garage.
“We know that a well-housed person is healthier than a person who’s in bad housing with mold or is homeless,” says Community Health Improvement Director Penrose Jackson. Children, in particular, suffer cognitive impairments, asthma, mental health disorders, and diabetes and other chronic diseases as a result of living in sub-standard housing that might be riddled with mice, lead paint, mold, or chronic dampness issues. In a paper for the series “How Housing Matters to Families and Communities” from the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, Megan Sandel, M.D., M.P.H., and Deborah Frank, M.D., observe just how intertwined health and housing are, especially for developing children.
“For many of our patients, a safe, decent, affordable home is like a vaccine—it literally keeps children healthy,” they say, noting their own findings proving the issues start even before birth: women who are homeless while pregnant are 50 percent more likely to have a low–birthweight baby and more than 30 percent more likely to have a pre-term delivery than women who were not homeless while pregnant.
And for those who do have housing, if paying for rent or a mortgage demands a disproportionate percentage of their income, they will subsequently have less money to spend on other essentials, such as food and medicine.
“The determinants of health in this country are 90 percent driven by social circumstances, the environment you’re in and genetic predisposition,” says Nancy Eldridge, executive director of the nonprofit Cathedral Square Corporation. Acting on that reality, in 2010 this housing organization, which specializes in senior and special needs housing, established SASH (Support and Services at Home). Part of the state’s Blueprint for Health, SASH serves more than 3,500 Vermonters at affordable housing sites and private residences statewide. Those who sign up undergo a complete functional assessment, cognitive screen, depression scale, nutritional assessment, and falls assessment; they’re then provided, as needed, with routine check-ins, medication management, family communication, membership in special-interest groups and transportation assistance. Because they establish ongoing relationships with program participants, SASH staff are able to get to know them in a way that primary care physicians simply can’t. Through routine in-home visits, SASH staffers are able to notice subtle changes in people’s overall well-being that might otherwise have gone unreported.
“We’re looking at whether we’re moving the needle on things you can’t really change unless you’re at home,” says Eldridge. “The behavior is getting changed at home because you’ve got a nurse who knows the person and can observe when something’s wrong.”
The results are significant in terms of reductions in falls (down 22 percent), nutritional risk scores and inpatient hospital admissions (both down 19 percent), and reports of no physical activity (down 8 percent)—and that was during SASH’s pilot year alone.
Such improvements in health also translate directly to substantial Medicaid and Medicare savings, as reinforced in the Dec. 19, 2013, New England Journal of Medicine. In “Housing as Health Care” it was observed that affordable housing “paired with supportive services such as on-site case management and referrals to community-based services… can lead to improved health, reduced hospital use, and decreased health care costs, especially when frequent users of health services are targeted.” It was further noted that studies “have shown that the costs of supportive housing are largely offset by resultant savings in services used, mostly from reduced use of the health care system.” With the average cost of inpatient hospitalization at $2,219 per day, as compared to supportive housing costs of $50 to $70 per day, the savings are substantial.
Locally, the Community Health Improvement office provides short-term housing solutions for patients from Vermont and New York who no longer need to be in the hospital receiving acute care but don’t have adequate housing to which to return. There’s ultimately a cost savings to paying for the housing, but more importantly, the addition of referrals to social service programs and other resources lead to improved physical, social and mental well-being.
“It’s not just about dollars and cents,” says Jason Williams, senior government relations strategist at University of Vermont Medical Center, of the program. “It’s about changing outcomes.”

For more information, contact Chris Donnelly at the Champlain Housing Trust by calling (802) 861-7305 or Kenn Sassorossi at Housing Vermont at (802) 863-8424.

2014 Update on Alzheimer’s

January 15, 2015  
Filed under Health & Wellness, News

By Martha Richardson
Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. It is a brain disease that progressively robs people of their ability to remember, think, understand and communicate. As the sixth leading cause of death, Alzheimer’s remains the only disease of the top 10 without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.
The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the charge to change the trajectory of this disease. In 2012, the organization undertook a strategic assessment process to look at the external environment and our internal capacity and potential in order to determine what is necessary to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease and to support people living with Alzheimer’s today and in the future. As a result of this collaborative, organization-wide work, a bold, 10-year vision for research and care and support was created.
To assure we remain focused on this shared vision, each chapter and the national office has broken its timeline into three, three-year implementation plans to propel our vision forward. I am pleased to share some of the highlights of the 2015-2017 Vermont Chapter Plan.

Expanding research
Leading experts have testified that a yearly investment of $2 billion in dementia-focused National Institutes of Health (NIH) research will be needed to meet the National Alzheimer’s Plan goal to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.
Government investment through NIH funding can and has profoundly changed the trajectory of diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. By raising our voices in a concerted effort, we can garner the same level of investment for Alzheimer’s disease. Chapters throughout the United States are rallying grassroots advocates to educate their elected officials about Alzheimer’s and mandate that their elected officials become educated about Alzheimer’s and the undeniable need to increase NIH funding. Over 1,500 Vermonters have joined ranks as Alzheimer’s Advocates and Ambassadors to spread the message that investment in Alzheimer’s research can’t wait.

Enhancing care and support
Those who are currently living with the disease remain central to our focus. The Vermont Chapter is a center of understanding and support for people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia and their caregivers, and we have expanded our network of community partners who are working alongside us to enhance support and services here in Vermont.
The Vermont Chapter provides free programs and services to increase knowledge and understanding about dementia, support caregivers and families and engage those with dementia. Our 24/7 Helpline (1-800-272-3900) serves people with memory loss, caregivers, health care professionals and the public with information and education, connection to local resources and issue-specific one-on-one support from masters level dementia experts.
As more people are referred to the Alzheimer’s Association, the Vermont Chapter continues to expand access to its free education programs. Thanks to a multi-year grant from an anonymous donor, the Alzheimer’s Association has partnered with Vermont Interactive Technologies (VIT) to efficiently expand public accessibility to education programs. With VIT studios located in Bennington, Brattleboro, Johnson, Lyndonville, Montpelier, Middlebury, Newport, Randolph Center, Rutland, Springfield, St. Albans, White River Junction and Williston, Vermonters can conveniently participate in dementia education programs led by Alzheimer’s care professionals while remaining close to their home communities. Workshop topics include Know the 10 Signs; The Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia & Alzheimer’s; Legal & Financial Planning; plus sessions focusing exclusively on the needs of early, middle and late stage caregivers.
The past year also brought the launch of The New Normal, a program for people in the beginning stage of Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. It offers a fun and comfortable way to get out, get active and get connected. Members of The New Normal work together to identify social events and community-based activities they feel are worth exploring while building bonds with others on the same path of adjusting to life with dementia.
Recognizing that social connections are an important thread of well-being, the Vermont Chapter has partnered with the Center on Aging and dedicated community members to develop the Queen City Memory Cafe. Meeting monthly, the Queen City Memory Cafe offers a social time and place for people with dementia and their support partner to talk, laugh and celebrate feeling understood and connected. Those impacted by Alzheimer’s or a related dementia also have access to more eight support groups held statewide, as well as telephone-based groups for persons with Alzheimer’s and for caregivers.

The path to success
While increased research and enhanced care and support are our goals, the path to achieving them requires significant revenue, advancement of public policy and growing public concern and awareness.
This year was a banner year for the Vermont Chapter. The fiscal year closed on June 30 with revenues of $539,000 (unaudited), representing a doubling of Chapter income over the past five years. Its advocacy efforts saw Senators Leahy and Sanders and Congressman Welch sign on as co-sponsors of the Hope for Alzheimer’s Act and voice their support for increased investment in Alzheimer’s research funding and the inclusion of $120 million in the 2015 federal budget. On the state level, the introduction of work groups affiliated with the Vermont Governor’s Commission on Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders has engaged dementia experts and stakeholders as advisors to the Commission.
Thanks to the likes of Alzheimer’s Celebrity Champions Grace Potter and Seth Rogen, statewide media coverage registered a dramatic upswing in 2014. Vermont native Grace Potter served as the Vermont chapter’s Mission Speaker at the 2014 Reason to Hope dinner. After sharing recollections of her grandfather’s struggles with Alzheimer’s, she gave a solo acoustic performance for the packed hotel ballroom. In total, the 2014 dinner raised more than $100,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, reaching a fundraising milestone for the Vermont Chapter.
Hilarity for Charity™ (HFC) is a movement led by comedian Seth Rogen to inspire change and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease among the millennial generation. HFC U is a nationwide program that encourages and supports college programs to throw their very own Hilarity for Charity events. University of Vermont’s Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity, under the exuberant leadership of Fraternity President John Fox and Richard “Bubba” Casella, raised more than $27,000 and won the 2014 HFC U national competition. Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller, co-founder of HFC, came to Burlington to personally congratulate PIKE on their accomplishments and host a film premiere at the Roxy theater. The 2015 HFC U competition is currently underway. PIKE has partnered with the Alpha Chi Omega sorority to double their fundraising efforts and retain the national title.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the Alzheimer’s Association’s largest annual fundraiser and provides nearly one third of the Vermont Chapter’s annual budget. Thanks to the efforts of more than 1,500 participants, 170 teams and hundreds of volunteers, Vermont’s five walks raised more than $250,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, exceeding last year’s numbers by 44 percent and shattering more fundraising records for the Vermont Chapter.
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease or available resources, visit or call 1-800-272-3900. If you want to get involved, call (802) 316-3839 or email

Martha Richardson is the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Vermont Chapter.

HANDS Reaches Out to Older Adults on Christmas

January 15, 2015  
Filed under Business, News

The free 10th Annual Holiday Dinner for Seniors will be held on Christmas Day from noon to 3 p.m. at the Elks Lodge at 925 North Ave. in Burlington.
In collaboration with the Burlington School Food Project, CVAA, Temple Sinai and the Elks Lodge, HANDS (Helping and Nurturing Diverse Seniors) will provide both a delivered meal and a sit-down dinner again this year on Christmas Day.
“We’re happy to be combining our efforts with the Elks Lodge again this year so we’ll have the sit-down buffet dinner there,” said HANDS Director Megan Humphrey. “We also know that some people would rather have a meal delivered to their home and we’ll provide that, too,” she said.
Last year, 300 meals and gift bags were delivered or served.
To reserve the free meal delivered to your home (either ham or vegetarian lasagna), call CVAA at 865-0360 by Dec. 18. After Dec. 18 or to reserve free transportation to the Elks Lodge, call Megan Humphrey at 864-7528 or email
“We just couldn’t do this without the help of hundreds of people and many organizations,” said Humphrey.
For more information or to donate, visit

Just in Time for the Holidays Table Manners & First Impressions

January 15, 2015  
Filed under Food

Etiquette is all about learning proper social skills — from how to make first impressions in interviews and during social events, to graceful dining habits that are vital signposts to success in today’s very competitive business environment,” says Fiona Cameron-Williams, International Protocol Consultant to the United Nations International School in Queens, NY, and President of FCW Hospitality and Private Residence Consulting, Inc.

Cameron-Williams believes that table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression, be it at a business meeting, on a first date or during a social gathering. “They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to personal and professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.”

Here are some suggestions:
Simple table manners
Pass food from the left to the right. Do not stretch across the table, crossing other guests, to reach food or condiments.
If asked for the salt or pepper, pass both together, even if a table mate asks for only one of them. This is so dinner guests won’t have to search for orphaned shakers.
Set any passed item, whether it’s the salt and pepper shakers, a bread basket or a butter plate, directly on the table instead of passing hand-to-hand.
Never intercept a pass. Snagging a roll out of the bread basket or taking a shake of salt when it is en route to someone else is a no-no.
Always use serving utensils to serve yourself, not your personal silverware.
In a restaurant
As soon as you are seated, remove the napkin from your place setting, unfold it and put it in your lap. Do not shake it open. At some very formal restaurants, the waiter may do this for the diners, but it is not inappropriate to place your own napkin in your lap, even when this is the case.
The napkin rests on the lap till the end of the meal. Don’t clean the cutlery or wipe your face with the napkin. NEVER use it to wipe your nose!
If you excuse yourself from the table, loosely fold the napkin and place it to the left or right of your plate. Do not refold your napkin or wad it up on the table either. Never place your napkin on your chair.
At the end of the meal, leave the napkin semi-folded at the left side of the place setting. It should not be crumpled or twisted; nor should it be folded. The napkin must also not be left on the chair.

At a private dinner party
The meal begins when the host or hostess unfolds his or her napkin. This is your signal to do the same. Place your napkin on your lap, completely unfolded if it is a small luncheon napkin or in half, lengthwise, if it is a large dinner napkin.Do not shake it open.
The napkin rests on the lap till the end of the meal.
The host will signal the end of the meal by placing his or her napkin on the table. Once the meal is over, you too should place your napkin neatly on the table to the left of your dinner plate.
For more etiquette suggestions and information, visit