Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging

NEK COUNCIlSAINT JOHNSBURY - Retirement and other matters concerning the topic of aging, comes with a variety of different new challenges for individuals, one organization with locations in Saint Johnsbury, Hardwick, Island Pond, and Newport wants the community to know that they are there for every step of the way. 

The Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging is a non- profit organization that serves as a resource for residents in different aspects of the aging process. The communities they serve are Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans counties. They claim to help residents age with wellness and support, and they provide the help to do that.

One of the underlying goals of The Council is to help people of the Northeast Kingdom age healthier and better, as well as be a resource for elder Vermonters. The Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging provides a way for elder Vermonters to live independently in their own surroundings, but do it with wellness and care in mind. They do this by providing care options including assistance with nutrition and wellness, workshops and counseling, as well as other assistance opportunities for the comfort of whom they serve. 

"Its all in elder wellness really," Says Pam Smith with The Councils Family Caregiver Support Program. "Its not just taking care of the elderly but doing it in a positive way keeping them active in their community."

Their Growing Stronger strength building program helps Northeast Kingdom residents find a wellness class in their area led by a trained volunteer.

Pam Smith and Helen Pike, The Councils director of communications say that another component of their wellness element is providing assistance with their clients nutritional needs. They do this through a few different initiatives, The Council is apart of the Meals on Wheels campaign and they offer another program called, Lets do Lunch, which is a program that provides healthy lunch for seniors and is offered at 14 different meal sites throughout the three different counties the serve.

Another key element of The Council is their counseling and workshops they have onsite. Smith says that within the Family Caregiver Support Program, they get calls from their case managers who may suggest a family that may need additional support whether they’re taking care of someone or they need assistance themselves. 

“So we try to provide some support and assistance for them,” says Smith. “We run family education programs, we have the best friends approach to dementia care which is a person centered care. We do a lot of the Alzheinemers Association programs, we’ve kind of separated them up we do one specifically for communications and the other for behaviors." 

Smith says they also do one on one counseling for elders and family members as well.

Senior Companions is the councils leading volunteer program. These companions provide hours of friendship and breaks from the normal routines to the residents they serve. This initiative provides individuals who chose to live on their own instead of assisted living facilities, a companion who provides assistance and friendship to them. The senior companions drove an average of 30 miles a week in all types of weather. The Senior Companions ended up driving over seventy six thousand miles throughout Caledonia, Orleans and Essex counties.

Although retirement and other matters concerning the topic of aging, comes with a variety of different new challenges for individuals, one local non-profit organization wants community members to know they have a place to turn to.

"We're a huge resource for anyone, healthy elders or people that just need a little bit more help," says Smith. "Just knowing that people have a place that they can turn to for help for just about anything is very meaningful to us."

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