Senior Bulletin Board: How SASH can help you

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Have you heard of SASH? Wondering what it is and what it's all about?

SASH stands for Support and Services at Home. It's been in existence in the State of Vermont for six years and in Manchester for four, serving about 5,000 people around the State.

It is a program available throughout the State of Vermont, in every county, and is designed to help seniors and other special needs persons who are receiving Medicare, to remain at home, if that is what they wish to do. There is no charge for taking advantage of this service.

Individualized, on-site support is provided by a trained SASH coordinator (Sue Cottrell) and a wellness nurse (Randi Crofut) either at the SASH office, located at the lower level of the Manchester Health Services, Route 7 North in Manchester, or at an individual's home.

When you enroll, you become part of the area's "panel," usually about 80 people. There are at least that many now involved with the Manchester segment, and because of the success of the program in Manchester, it is now "fully funded" by CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the State of Vermont with some additional input from grants and the Blueprint for Health.

As I talked with Sue last week, we came to an agreement that, basically, she serves as a kind of "facilitator" — she recognizes a problem, or a potential problem, among the enrollees, and then works to come up with a workable solution, frequently working with other social agencies or resources in the community. For instance, that may mean coordinating the care plan for an individual after hospitalization.

More routine services that are offered include blood pressure checks and pulse readings, either at the SASH office or at an individual's home. In addition, there are some socialization opportunities, and Sue tries to schedule a wellness event once a month. One of the values of these gatherings is what is learned from each other. There is a foot clinic once a month and several walking groups, one in Manchester, one in Arlington.

I am blessed with good health so I do not now have need for specific services from SASH, but that could change tomorrow, couldn't it? So, I consider SASH to be a kind of insurance for help when I need it. For people who have no family in the area, this "insurance" would be invaluable, and I urge you to call Sue at 802-768-8729 and make an appointment to go see her for a health and wellness assessment. Once you have signed up, (remember: there is no charge to you) your enrollment is good for a year, then you can re-enroll. Easy enough, right?

Reminders for next week:

Wednesday, June 7: Happy Go-Getters Luncheon at St. Paul's Catholic Church, noon. Come for Birthday Cake ! Reserve with Sally McManus at 802-375-9780. $4.00.

A thought: I have heard that almost 50 percent of older people living alone are "lonely." Are you one of them? Would you find it helpful to have a place where seniors could "gather" periodically for an afternoon or an evening - share some food, play some cards, work on a puzzle, watch a movie? I need to hear from you.

Marian Haines lives in Mancheseter.


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