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Aging and Independent Living

Contributed by Dolly Fleming, Executive Director COVE (Community of Vermont Elders)

It is exceedingly clear that Vermont and the nation are experiencing a rise in the elder population. Demographics are showing that people are living longer and that the elder population is expanding. Seniors need and deserve a comprehensive continuum of care and a care system that promotes dignity, choice, well-being and independence. People who provide attendant care and support play a critical role both within Long Term Care (LTC) facilities and in the homes of seniors who use personal services.

Seniors need and deserve care options and quality of care in whatever setting they choose. Seniors choosing to remain at home especially rely on the availability and partnership of attendant care providers. When seniors exercise this preference, the demand for support services provided in the home increases dramatically. Quality of life and independence for the seniors are significantly influenced by the attributes these workers bring to their care-giving jobs; the education and training they receive, and the quality of these jobs. The attitudes, values, skills and knowledge of these workers, how they are compensated and rewarded, and the way their jobs are organized and managed, all have a role to play in determining long-term care quality.

Better supported caregivers are critical to independent living because they raise the quality of care received by consumers, increase retention, attract new caregivers and foster quality independent living. Respecting consumers and care providers go hand in hand. This causal link is critical to the needs, interests and rights of our senior citizens.