KYLE DODSON NAMED Y PRESIDENT & CEO

March 22, 2016  
Filed under Business

Kyle Dobson

Kyle Dobson

Organization prepares to mark 150th anniversary with new leader

 

March 21, 2016 — Burlington, VT – The Greater Burlington YMCA announced today that Kyle Dodson of Burlington has been selected as the organization’s next President & CEO. Dodson will step into the role as of May 2nd.

 

“The Greater Burlington Y is not only an organization with a rich 150 year history, but it continues to identify and address the challenges facing our communities,” Dodson said. “I am both thankful and excited to work with an engaged staff and supportive community to ensure a strong future for our Y; one that continues to see the Y’s role as a leader for years to come,” Dodson added.

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2015 Boomie Awards – Best Tech for 50+

March 17, 2016  
Filed under Business

By Gary M. Kaye, Chief Content Officer, Tech50+ (www.tech50plus.com)

While there were many great products that came to market in 2015, there were only a handful of really new breakthrough technologies. Many of the best products of the year represented improvements on already existing products or form factors. Regardless of whether they were intentionally designed with the 50+ market in mind or not, many have turned out to be well suited to us. To pick the best in each category we looked at a variety of factors:

Is it 50+ Friendly? – Does it have features that make it easy for those of us over 50 to use? Read more

Free executive training program available to Vermont entrepreneurs

January 15, 2016  
Filed under Business, News

Vermont is seeking 15 small business owners to participate in the Emerging Leaders Initiative beginning in April at Vermont Technical College in Williston.

 

Emerging Leaders is a free executive-level training program for entrepreneurs to learn how to establish a three-year strategic growth plan for their businesses. The strategic plans emphasize organizational structure, resource network and assistance needed to build a sustainable business of size and scale. Read more

Tech tips to help you stay productive during work-from-home days

June 3, 2015  
Filed under Business

AT&T compiled a list of the perfect apps that help you make sure you’re completing work and day-to-day tasks when working at home.

Office Chat – Truly bring your office home with Office Chat. This mobile app is more than just messaging; it has the ability to share pictures, files, videos and audio attachments. You will also have access to email, detailed info pages for colleagues and more so you can fully collaborate with colleagues from home

GroupMe – GroupMe is another simple way to stay in touch with your colleagues wherever you are. GroupMe allows you to direct message and create group chats via their phone number or email address. Group chats are perfect if you are working on a team project and want to be able to share ideas instantly and on-the-go.

White Noise – Create a quiet workspace at home with the White Noise app. This app helps to block out distractions and increase focus. There is a wide assortment of sounds to choose from in the sound catalog. These relaxing sounds reduce stress, headaches and enhance privacy.

Evernote – Eliminate paper clutter and get organized with Evernote. In this app, you can type all your notes, create notebooks and to-do lists and access them anywhere. Evernote has a powerful search engine, making it quick and easy to find something you have created. Evernote can also be used for personal needs such as managing expenses and travel plans.

POPSUGAR Active – Even when you’re not in the office, you still need a break in the middle of your workday. With this app, you can relieve stress without leaving your house with preloaded workout videos, challenges, photo tutorials, treadmill workouts and more. Reminders are built in so you won’t forget to take the time each day to focus on your health and fitness.

Burlington 50+ Expo Door Prize Winner Announced!

February 13, 2015  
Filed under Business

EXPO 2015 - Door Prize Winners-page-001

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 meganjhumphrey@gmail.com.
“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 www.handsvt.org.

The High Cost of Family Caregiving

December 1, 2014  
Filed under Business

Almost most half (46 percent) of family caregivers spend more than $5,000 per year on caregiving expenses, according to a new Caring.com report. A family caregiver is defined as someone who takes care of a family member or friend, but is unpaid for their services. Their caregiving expenses include out-of-pocket costs for medications, medical bills, in-home care, nursing homes and more.

Of the 46 percent of family caregivers that spend more than $5,000 annually:

16 percent spend from $5,000 to $9,999

11 percent spend from $10,000 to $19,999

7 percent spend $20,000 to $29,999

5 percent spend $30,000 to $49,999

7 percent spend $50,000 or more each year

32 percent of family caregivers spend less than $5,000 per year

21 percent do not know how much they spend on caregiving each year.

“Caregiving can be a startlingly expensive endeavor that most people aren’t financially prepared for,” said Caring.com CEO Andy Cohen. “But yet only three in 10 caregivers have spoken to their loved ones about how to pay for care. Having an open and honest conversation about finances is a sensitive, but necessary discussion to have.”

Caregiving not only has an effect on finances, but it can also impact current employment and future retirement plans, too. One-third of family caregivers spend more than 30 hours per week on caregiving, making it almost the equivalent of a full-time job. Half of caregivers have made changes to their work schedule to accommodate caregiving, while 30 percent often arrived late or left early and 17 percent missed a significant amount of work.

“Family caregivers, especially baby boomers, run the risk of derailing their retirement plans if they don’t prepare for the costs associated with caregiving,” said Cohen. “Almost half of caregivers spend $25,000 on caregiving in just five years – that’s a significant chunk of money that could delay retirement by a couple of years.”

Additional Findings

For 43 percent of family caregivers, deciding on a senior care or senior housing option took only one month. But for 21 percent of caregivers, the decision process took six months or more. 

60 percent of caregivers say their caregiving duties have a negative effect on their job. 

54 percent of caregivers are caring for a parent or spouse/significant other.

More information about the survey results and resources to support family caregivers is available on Caring.com at http://www.caring.com/research/senior-care-cost-index-2014

Better Living Audiology Opens in South Burlington

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Business

By Phyl Newbeck
Julie Bier is the owner of Better Living Audiology, a practice which opened in March in South Burlington.
Bier credits a college advisor with setting her on her career path. In high school, she studied American Sign Language and continued taking ASL courses in college while on a pre-med track. Her advisor suggested she take an introduction to audiology class and she was immediately hooked.
Bier received her doctorate from the University of California in San Francisco and stayed in California for several years after that. Her family was on the East Coast so she eventually relocated to New York, but as the grind of the city became a bit much, she began to look towards New England. Bier got a job at Fletcher Allen but she had always wanted to open her own practice and this spring she decided to make the move.
Better Living Audiology is a full-service practice, performing evaluations, hearing aid consultations and fittings, and repairs of most manufactured hearing aids. Bier specializes in tinnitus and hyperacusis. The former is a ringing of the ears and the latter is a sensitivity to loud noises; both of which can be linked to hearing loss. Bier has clients ranging in age from babies to 105. She finds it very rewarding to work with children and watch them hear things they’ve never experienced before, but she stresses that people of all ages should have their hearing checked. “It’s never too late to do something about hearing loss,” she said “but the sooner you do things, the better. The auditory part of the brain is a muscle just like any other part of the body and if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Bier said there are constant advances in the field of hearing aids. “Every six to 12 months there is something new coming out which makes my job exciting,” she said. “I see some patients with three-year-old hearing aids come in and try something new and they say it’s like night and day.” Many of the advances focus on background noises as well as size and visibility. “Hearing aids are much smaller than they used to be,” Bier said. “There are some nearly invisible devices which are semi-implanted by an audiologist or ear, nose and throat physician.”
The downside to those devices is they need to be replaced every few months by a physician. Other hearing aids sit deep in the hearing canal and can be removed by the patient when the battery goes down.
Bier said the most popular hearing aids are miniature devices which sit behind the ear and are connected with a wire. “They are very comfortable and almost invisible,” she said. The hearing aid cases are almost waterproof, although Bier doesn’t recommend using them for showering or swimming. One of her patients wore his while kayaking and capsized for the first time ever. He was able to retrieve the aid which fell out of his ear under water.  After drying out the battery over the weekend, it was as good as new. Some of the newer hearing aids have Blue Tooth connectivity and can be connected directly to an iPhone, iPad or television. “The sound is tailored to your hearing loss,” Bier said “and you can hear it in both ears. The audiology world is a lot of fun because everything is always changing.”
Bier loves having the opportunity to improve the quality of life of her patients. “On an almost daily basis when I’m fitting someone for hearing aids, I can see the change,” she said. Bier said often a son or daughter will accompany a parent to their first visit. “She’s yelling and repeating herself,” said Bier “and she’s getting frustrated. I see them two weeks later and they’re able to communicate without any of that.”
Bier said she is often told by a grateful son or daughter that his or her parent is now able to be part of the conversation at dinner and to hear what their grandchild is saying. One client told her he had no idea there were birds outside his home until his new hearing aid allowed him to hear them chirping. Another noted that he learned he had to fix a step in his house because he had just discovered that it creaked. “Reconnecting people with the world in that way and with their family and friends is really rewarding,” she said.
“Hearing loss is more common than people realize,” said Bier. “One out of every three people over the age of 60 has hearing loss and as general rule it takes a person about seven years before they accept that fact.”
Bier noted that treating physicians make referrals for a variety of issues, but only a small percentage check for hearing. “It’s more of an invisible impairment,” she said. “Making sure that’s on people’s radar is important.”

Hiring a Home Healthcare Worker? Follow These Important Tips

March 31, 2014  
Filed under Business

By Kurt Kazanowski

Whether it’s to help the elderly with daily needs like bathing and toileting, or perhaps a patient with a debilitating condition such as ALS, home healthcare workers play an important role in the lives of many.

In recent times, however, a few bad apples have brought about a bad name for the industry.  In a recent case in Detroit, a home healthcare worker was hired to care for an 80-year-old woman with dementia. Not only was the patient neglected, the worker allegedly stole more than $1.5 million from the family that hired her.

This horrifying story demonstrates how vulnerable the elderly can be and how naive some families are when hiring a caregiver or home care agency. The time to address this problem is now because the need for in-home care will continue to grow as the aging of America crests in 2030.

Despite these unfortunate incidents, home healthcare workers play a vital role for many people who otherwise would be forced out of their homes and into a long term care facility. The industry is filled with plenty of hardworking, honest and caring professionals. As a consumer, you want to ensure the best care for a loved one, and you can by doing your due diligence. 

Shop around

Chances are you wouldn’t buy the first car you test drive or settle for the first pair of jeans you spot hanging in the store, so why would you settle on the first home healthcare company you find or meet with? Start by reviewing the company’s website. Check the reviews from other families who have used this company.  Visit www.caring.com for reviews and feedback about in-home care companies. 

Background checks must be ongoing 

Find out if the home care agency completes a national criminal background check, as well as conducts a motor vehicle background review every six months. One background check upon hiring is not enough. Screening must be an ongoing process. Never hire a company that doesn’t take this simple step to ensure the safety of its patients.

Regular quality assurance checks

Find out if the home care company does regular quality assurance checks. A quality assurance check is a regular spot check on the caregiver to make sure all is well in the home and that the care plan is being followed. It ensures that your loved one is properly cared for, bathed frequently, takes medication as prescribed and is living in a clean and healthy environment.

Status reports

Find out if the home care agency you hire meets with you or speaks to you on a regular basis to update you on the care being delivered to your loved one, and answers any questions you have.  A reputable company will do this on an ongoing basis or as frequently as you request.

Meet with the healthcare worker ahead of time

When you meet with a homecare company, often times you meet with an administrator or someone whose job it is to sell you on the company. Request to personally meet the healthcare worker who will be providing care for your loved one in advance of him or her showing up to your home. Any reputable home healthcare agency would be willing to arrange that. Also, make sure and speak to the families of other patients your home healthcare worker cared for and ask for their honest feedback. 

Family members must remain active in the process

Also remember that family members play an important role in looking after a loved one: keeping an eye on credit card statements, checking and saving account balances and other important financial documents; having important mail forwarded; making unannounced visits to the parent’s home; getting and reviewing receipts from home care workers for any shopping or payments made on behalf of your loved one.    

Many people believe they can hire a private caregiver through the Internet for less money than hiring a personal care company.  And while this may be true, be sure you understand the potential downside before you make that decision. 

If the caregiver is injured on the job, you are responsible for damages. Caregivers working as independent contractors are typically not bonded and insured, and any loss you experience through theft most likely won’t be recovered. Who is going to pay the mandated taxes and withholding? Finally, you truly don’t know who you are letting into your home as a background check won’t be completed, unless you want to shell out the money and do these on your own twice a year.  

The world’s population will always be aging and the need for in-home care will always be a top priority for a lot of families. With some good due diligence, you will find a personal care home health company that will provide both excellent care and give you peace of mind.

Kurt A. Kazanowski, MS, RN, CHE is a health care executive with more than three decades of experience.  He owns Homewatch CareGivers.  For more information, visit www.thehomecareexpert.com.

De-Clutter Me!

March 31, 2014  
Filed under Business

Eliminating clutter can change the whole feel of a space. (Courtesy photos)

By Phyl Newbeck

At 61, Ellen Gurwitz of Shelburne may have found her calling. Last year, after prodding from friends, she began her new business De-Clutter Me! Gurwitz provides consultations for those looking to eliminate unnecessary clutter from their homes. “It’s a lot of fun to help people get through the process,” she said. “I’ve seen concerned frowns soften into happy smiles. People say they feel lighter. It’s almost spiritual.”

Gurwitz said an important talent she brings to the job is a strong customer service orientation. She used to own and manage a retail mail order business in Burlington and also did customer service for a large company based in the city. “I listen and hopefully respond properly,” she said. “I gain people’s respect fast.”

Gurwitz realized she had a talent for talking to people when she ran for Selectboard in Richmond in the mid 1990s. After only two and a half years in town (“five minutes by Vermont standards,” she joked) she challenged an incumbent who had lived there for most of his life. Walking the streets of Richmond in the winter was the ultimate in “cold calling,” Gurwitz recalls, but she won the race. “I realized I gain trust quickly,” she said. “I know I’m approachable and that helps people relax, as well.”

Although De-Clutter Me! is relatively new, the business is growing, mostly by word of mouth. Gurwitz’s worry is that embarrassment might keep people from contacting her. In fact, some clients told her they wanted to clean up before she arrived. Gurwitz convinces them not to be concerned with the disarray since it’s her job to sift through what’s there and help people determine what they’d like to keep. Many of her clients require multiple visits, in part because Gurwitz has found that after about three hours people begin to burn out. “It’s a lot of work,” she said “but also in the case of inherited items, it can be highly emotional.”

Gurwitz confesses to never having seen the current crop of television shows on hoarding but she believes their existence may have heightened awareness of the problem. None of her clients has reached that level and she believes if she ever found a hoarder, she would recommend counseling in addition to her services. Gurwitz thinks many of her clients call her because they have tired of the “acquisitive culture” in which we live. “They’ve been told that they’ll be happy if they have more stuff,” she said, “but that’s not true.” Other clients contact her when they move into smaller domiciles and simply don’t have room for their accumulated possessions.

Gurwitz said it’s hard to have a rule of thumb for when to get rid of something since each individual situation is unique. However, she generally believes that if something hasn’t been used for six months (unless it’s seasonal), it can be discarded or given away. Clothing that hasn’t been worn in a year should also be culled, particularly for those who have lost weight and no longer have need for their “fat clothes.”

Gurwitz has read that the average person has 88 articles of clothing in a closet and wears 25 of them. Rather than step into a closet and pick out clothes to give away, Gurwitz tends to ask people to point to their favorite clothes and favorite colors, find other items which go well with them, and then take a close look at what’s left.

A sticking point for many homeowners is memorabilia or other items of emotional value. Gurwitz has found that sometimes people simply need someone to listen to the story of the item. After she “bears witness,” they might be willing to let go.

Gurwitz said one way of looking at clutter is to think of all the other people who might benefit from your extraneous possessions. There are a wide variety of options for selling or donating items ranging from Front Porch Forum, Craigslist and Ebay to various charities, the Freecycle Network or just the Re-use stations at solid waste transfer facilities. She estimates the average homeowner has $5,000 worth of unused items in their home.

In her spare time, Gurwitz sings with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and Bella Voce, and produces a two-hour Internet music show called Stone Soup. She also volunteers for a variety of cultural institutions including the Lois McClure schooner.

Gurwitz hopes she can bring her talents to more homeowners to help them rid themselves of clutter while helping others to benefit from new (to them) possessions. “There’s no way to know what to do until you get started,” she said. “It’s all about the forward momentum.”

For more information, call 598-3639 or email clearclutternow@gmail.com.

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