Vermont is the oldest state in the union. No, we weren’t the first state in the union…we have the oldest population per capita in the United States. When Govenor Phil Scott gave his 2020 State of the State addess, he mentioned an interesting statistic: There are 30,000 more Vermont residents over the age of 65 than there were in 2000. For a state with only 600,000 people total, that is a significant number.
We all know that as the Baby Boomer generation continues to retire and grow old, the number of elderly people who need assistance continues to increase. In Bennington County, nearly 30% of the people who live here are over 65.
Those folks are Neighbor to Neighbor’s constituents, our care recipients, our elder neighbors. The vast majority of our care recipients live below the poverty line and live alone. Once they lose the ability to drive themselves to town, they are stuck. Social isolation among the elderly is a huge and growing issue. An AARP study revealed that social isolation is not good for one’s physical or emotional health and accounts for over $5 billion increase in Medicare costs per annum.
With the closest senior centers being in Rutland and Bennington, people often have few options for socializing and feeling connected to the larger community. These are Neighbor to Neighbor’s charges. We help fill in the gaps between the desire to “age in place,” to live independently in one’s own home for as long as possible, and isolation imposed by tiny rural communities. We want our elder neighbors to feel appreciated and valued for what they bring to our community. We honor them by helping them in a caring manner.
When you are connected with Neighbor to Neighbor–in whatever manner works for you– you are directly helping to make their lives better. Simple as that.