Guest post by Tracey Shamberger, Age Well, Director of Public Relations and Business Development
Great leaders have said the test of any community is how it treats its most vulnerable. Vermonters have certainly been put to the test as we navigate the Covid Pandemic. At Age Well we are grateful to our volunteers and our community partners, like City Market. Less than one year ago Age Well became a City Market Community Outreach Partner. As a direct result of our partnership we recruited nearly 300 new volunteers!
It has been heartwarming to hear so many stories about people across towns, cities and neighborhoods pitching in to help one another and make our communities stronger.
Older Vermonters are among the most vulnerable and they needed more support than ever. The biggest threat to elders is social isolation and food insecurity. Thankfully, the Age Well Meals on Wheels program ensures that our aging neighbors and loved ones receive delicious and nutritious food delivered right to their door - daily by an amazing Volunteer.
Volunteers deliver much more than a meal; they are a vital lifeline for many people, a friend, and someone they look forward to seeing. Many Older Vermonters are homebound and unable to prepare their own food and say the daily meal and friendly visit make them feel more safe, secure, and less lonely, while allowing them to remain living at home. Access to healthy meals, in-home care, and wellness programs help combat the three biggest threats of aging: hunger, isolation, and loss of independence.
As the leading experts and advocates for the aging population of Northwestern Vermont, Age Well believes that health happens at home. Our focus is on lifestyle, happiness and wellness—not age.
Our mission is to provide the support and guidance that inspires our community to embrace aging with confidence. For nearly 50 years Age Well has enabled Older Adults to avoid far more costly healthcare alternatives, such as unnecessary trips to the emergency room, hospitalizations and nursing home placement. Research has proven that when Older Adults have the right support, they live a healthier, longer and more independent life.
“If it weren’t for Meals on Wheels, I don’t know what I would do. I spent my whole life cooking for others but now it is just too hard. Without transportation and the ability to get around easily, I rely on my meals and look forward to seeing a friendly face each day.”- Mindy, Meals on Wheels Recipient, 2020.
The aging population in Vermont is growing rapidly, with the number of people over the age of 65 projected to increase by 16% by 2030. As of the last census fewer than 42,000 Vermonters were 75 or older. By 2030 that figure is projected to double to nearly 86,000.
While we celebrate the increase in lifespan, maintaining health while aging comes with a price. Without support from programs like Meals on Wheels many older adults have no choice but to trade their homes for nursing facilities. Interestingly, it costs less to provide Meals on Wheels for an entire year than it costs to spend one day in the hospital or ten days in a nursing home.
Delivered by staff members and over 1,200 volunteers, services are designed to meet the diverse needs of clients, their families and caregivers. Age Well does not charge for services. As a nonprofit the agency relies on Volunteers, donations, federal, state, individual, corporate and community support.
The Vermont Community has emphatically risen to the challenge by supporting the work we do at Age Well. The ongoing support from City Market has been instrumental in promoting our volunteer program and providing discounts and benefits to current Volunteers. This support ensured we could meet the increased demand for Meals on Wheels. Without you and our Volunteers, our mission would be impossible.
Visit the website: https://www.agewellvt.org/