Vermont Maturity Magazine July-August 2024

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Vermont Maturity

For Vermonters Age 50 and Older

Phone: 802-490-1308



Socials: @VermontMaturity


Jordan Brechenser


Robin Nichols


Ahmad Yassir


Lylah Wright

Susan Plaisance


James Conner Jim Miller

Carolee Duckworth Phyl Newbeck

Ben Durant Nick Thomas

Alicia Fleming Clover Whitham

Dr. Richard Houston Vicky Parra Tebbetts


Char Grass


Phone: 802-490-1308, 802-447-7567



Vermont Maturity, published six times per year by Vermont News and Media, LLC, reaches readers through mail and newsstand copies. Distribution covers Chittenden County, including Burlington, South Burlington, Essex, Colchester, Shelburne, Winooski, and Williston. Additionally, Vermont Maturity is available in Southern Vermont, specifically in Bennington and Windham Counties.

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The publisher makes no representation concerning any product or service advertised in this publication. Vermont Maturity and serve only as mediums for sellers to reach potential buyers and do not warrant the accuracy of any advertisement. Vermont Maturity makes every effort to eliminate typographical errors but assumes no responsibility for misspelling names from handwritten copy. All editorial items submitted are subject to editing and alteration at the sole discretion of the publisher. The design and format of this magazine are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America. Reproduction of this publication, in whole or in part, is prohibited without express written consent of the publisher.

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Join us as we travel by Amtrak to White River Junction. Enjoy some time to explore the village of White River Junction before heading over for a theatrical production at the Northern Stage. -After wards, chat with your new friends about the show at a catered dinner at the historic Hotel Coolidge.

October 5, 2024

Northern Stage, by Rail

October 3-7, 2024

Washington D.C.

Newfoundland and Labrador – plus a scenic cruise around the wondrous Witless Bay Islands – offer additional vantage points of this windswept, wondrous land. Don’t forget to toast the stunning sunset with a local iceberg beer or a shot of Screech.

Pack your shades for the quaint lighthouses, rainbow- colored houses, and other bright sights this tour of Newfoundland and Labrador has to offer, including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Witness the exceptional beauty and unique geological features of Gros Morne National Park, walk in the footsteps of Vikings at L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site Red Bay, and immerse yourself in the life of a 16th-century whaler at the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station. A ferry crossing between

June 7-20, 2025

Featuring the Iceberg Festival in St. Anthony

Newfoundland & Labrador

Did you know that October is the absolute one of the best times of the year to visit the United States Capital? People travel from far and wide to experience the awesome beauty of the autumn leaves against the white marbled buildings. Our goal is to arrive when the leaves are at peak display. This tour is filled with the wonderful sites of our Capital in its entire unique splendor. Each day of the tour is planned very carefully to get the most out of every moment.

Basin Harbor Resort

One of Vermont’s hidden treasures is a beautiful 700-acre resort and boat club on the shores of Lake Champlain. Tucked away in a little bay just outside the city of Vergennes, Basin Harbor Resort has over 135 years of experience in the hospitality industry. The family-owned business is now overseen by the fourth and fifth generation of innkeepers.

Basin Harbor is a three-season resort which describes itself as “a tranquil haven for mature travelers who appreciate the finer aspects of outdoor leisure, exemplary service, and gourmet dining that highlights seasonal flavors.” The facility is used for a variety of events including family gatherings, destination weddings, golf retreats, and corporate functions.

A myriad of recreation options is available at Basin Harbor including tennis and pickleball courts, hiking trails, an 18-hole golf course with practice facilities,

human and engine-powered boat rentals, and over 40 boat slips for overnight docking. For those more interested in a relaxing vacation, the leisurely pace of the resort allows for some extended downtime. Additionally, since Basin Harbor is a multi-generational facility which includes baby-sitting services and a Kids Camp for younger guests, there is a chance to just sit by the lake and recharge while the younger generation is entertained.

There are themed buffet dinners at the North Dock three days a week. The location offers guests a perfect vantage point for watching the sun set over the Adirondacks. The Burgee Bar offers cool beverages, and the Basin Harbor Flagship Food Truck provides lighter options for lunch and dinner. Indoors, guests can sample the fare of the Red Mill or enjoy fine dining at Ardelia’s.

Basin Harbor’s facilities include an art studio and an oversized outdoor chess set. Host Bob Beach Jr. provides

weekly history talks which include discussions about early Native American life in Vermont and stories of battles which took place on Lake Champlain. The resort also offers its own Shipwreck Tours with experts from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum who use a remotely operated camera to provide images of one of the wooden boats resting on the bottom of the lake. The concierge at Basin Harbor can also provide information about other cruises on Lake Champlain, and for visitors with an interest in adult beverages there are local brewery tours.

Those looking to explore Lake Champlain have a variety of options for boat rentals including paddleboats, kayaks, two-person sailboats and six-person daysailers. Guests with experience can head out on their own while others can hire an instructor to help them learn the ropes. The lake is a wonderful place to explore and swim, but the resort also has a solar-heated outdoor pool. Guides at Basin Harbor can lead guests on a variety of group activities including bike rides and hikes.

Tennis players can choose between the two HarTru and three all-weather Plexipave courts. There are clinics for those interested in improving their game, as well as the opportunity for private lessons. Pickleball is a new option at the resort with racket rentals and lessons for folks wanting to try the game. Bike rentals are also available, and cyclists can choose between road or mountain bikes. Destinations for road cyclists include the stunning (and cyclist-friendly) Champlain Bridge which leads to the Crown Point Historic Site in New York State or a shorter pedal to the delicious Vergennes Laundry bakery. Local trails are ideal for easy mountain biking.

Overnight facilities at Basin Harbor include 74 cottages and guest rooms in the resort’s four lodges. The cottages each have a distinct character. Some are tucked into the woodland area while others are closer to the lake. “Basin Harbor offers a refreshing departure from the typical hotel experience,” Director of Marketing and Guest Experiences Sadie Jones said. “The facilities present a tranquil and enchanting alternative for discerning

travelers.” Many of the cottages have a rich history, having originally been created to suit the personal preferences of individual guests. The result is a diverse array of architectural styles and layouts. “Like members of a closeknit community,” Jones said, “each cottage possesses its own charming quirks and characteristics, imbuing the resort with a rich tapestry of personality.”

Bob Beach Jr., part of the fourth generation to run Basin Harbor, touts the resort’s location. “There are so many beautiful places in the world, and this is one of them,” he said. “We have a stellar view. Just sit down by the point or go out on the lake. There are some things that make it really untouchable.”

Guests rave about the facilities and how they cater to all ages. “My father loved bringing us away together,” said one second-generation guest who has been visiting since 1987. “For his 85th birthday three years ago, I had all the grandchildren write him letters, which I assembled in a book for him. Every one of them mentioned their time at Basin Harbor.” A third-generation guest who has been coming since 1955 agrees. “So much of the experience is the history,” the guest said. “For me, it’s so cool that I’m sitting in the same dining room that my greatgrandparents were in.”

Beach notes that Vermont is one of the safest places to visit. “We’re out at the end of a road,” he said. “Guests can come and let their kids go free. We take it for granted that this is a place where we can leave our keys in our cars.”

The majority of the resort’s multi-generational family reunions guests live regionally within driving range

but there are also a number of Vermonters enjoying staycations. Many local and regional companies hold retreats on the premises and the resort hosts weddings which are almost always couples from outside the state. The spacious accommodations allow for large families and groups to have access to both private and communal areas.

“Basin Harbor offers a serene retreat for those seeking quality time with loved ones and the opportunity to reconnect with friends in a setting that holds deep significance,” Jones said. “People can enjoy a tranquil Vermont vacation, where the relaxed atmosphere allows guests to fully unwind and appreciate the beauty around them. Visiting Basin Harbor feels less like checking into a traditional hotel and more akin to discovering a quaint lakeside village in the heart of Vermont, where every corner is infused with a sense of authentic charm and hospitality.” VM

Basin Harbor is located at 4800 Basin Harbor Road Vergennes, VT 05491. For more information visit, call 800-622-4000 or email Stay@


Scallops, Crab Claws, Shrimp Cocktail, Smoked
Family Owned and Operated Since 1951

Person-Centered Patient Advocacy for Older Adults in Vermont

Ensuring Dignity, Respect, and Comprehensive Care

Person-Centered Patient Advocacy for older adults is a crucial component of the healthcare system, particularly in Vermont, a state known for its aging population. As the number of older adults increases, ensuring they receive dignified, respectful, and comprehensive care becomes more pressing. Patient advocates play a vital role in navigating this complex landscape, providing essential support to older adults and their families.

The Role of Patient Advocates

Patient advocates serve as intermediaries between patients and healthcare providers, ensuring that the needs and preferences of older adults are met. Their responsibilities include:


Advocates help older adults understand their healthcare options, from selecting providers to managing appointments and understanding medical bills. This guidance is especially valuable given the complexities of Medicare and Medicaid.

We are Age Well the leading experts and advocates for the aging population of Northwestern Vermont. We believe that health happens at home and focus on lifestyle, happiness and wellness— not on age.


Case Management

Meals on Wheels

Restaurant Ticket Program

Falls Prevention & Wellness

Medicare Counseling

Helpline: 1-800-642-5119

Age Well is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit.


Advocates ensure that patients fully understand their treatment options, including the risks and benefits, enabling them to make informed decisions about their care.


Effective communication between patients, families, and healthcare providers is critical. Advocates help bridge gaps, ensuring that all parties are on the same page regarding care plans and treatment goals.


Advocates are vigilant in safeguarding the rights of older adults, ensuring they are treated with respect and that their autonomy is preserved. This includes addressing issues of elder abuse or neglect.

Challenges in

patient advocates face several challenges in Vermont:


Vermont may have limited access to healthcare resources, making it difficult for advocates

to connect older adults with necessary services.


Navigating the intricacies of state and federal healthcare policies can be daunting. Advocates must stay informed about policy changes to provide accurate guidance.


Many older adults live on fixed incomes, and the cost of healthcare can be prohibitive. Advocates often need to find cost-effective solutions to meet their clients’ needs.

Support Systems in Vermont

Several organizations and initiatives support patient advocacy in Vermont:


Age-Strong Vermont is a statewide initiative

communities. This initiative addresses various aspects of aging, including healthcare, housing, transportation, and social inclusion. By fostering a supportive environment, Age-Strong Vermont helps patient advocates connect older adults with essential services and resources, enhancing their quality of life. For more information visit


VEN plays a pivotal role in promoting ethical healthcare practices across the state. VEN provides resources and education to healthcare providers and advocates on ethical issues, including end-of-life care, patient autonomy, and informed consent. By emphasizing ethical decision-making, VEN supports advocates in ensuring that older adults receive care that aligns with their values and wishes. VEN offers many great resources to include a Values Questionnaire. For more information visit :


This program advocates for residents of licensed long-term care facilities; protecting the health, welfare, and rights of those individuals. The program also helps people who receive long-term care through Vermont’s Choices for Care (CFC) program. VOP works to empower their clients and improve their quality of life. They resolve individual concerns about long-term care and educate people about their rights. The Vermont Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocates for better laws and rules related to long-term care. For more information visit:


Vermont’s AAAs offer a range of services, including health insurance counseling, case management, and caregiver support. They are a valuable resource for patient advocates seeking to connect older adults with community services.


This organization provides legal assistance to older adults, helping them navigate issues related to healthcare, housing, and public benefits. Legal advocates often work alongside patient advocates to address complex cases. Under Vermont Legal Aid is The Office of the Health Care Advocate (HCA). The HCA helps Vermonters with problems and questions related to health care services and health insurance. They often help people to get onto insurance plans, get on state and federal health care programs, learn about enrollment in Medicare, Medicaid and Vermont Health Connect plans, act when an insurance company improperly denies medical treatment and sort out billing problems. In many cases, the HCA empowers people by giving advice and education that helps them understand and resolve their health care issues and questions. The Office of the Healthcare Advocate offers Statewide Services from five Offices: Burlington, Montpelier, Rutland, Springfield, and St. Johnsbury. To reach The Health Care Advocate (HCA) Helpline; Call

Something To Think About


What can you do to help a grief-stricken and bereaved friend return to a fairly normal and happy life? First of all, you must respect your friend’s need to grieve. That’s right, the process of grief can be very important for healing, for coming to terms with one’s loss. Also, there is no set time-period for such feelings, though social customs may designate arbitrary periods of mourning. Eventually, tactfully, you might encourage your friend to get involved in

new activities and meet new people. He or she may be very reluctant at first, but developing new interests is crucial to recovery. Don’t be forceful, but do be persistent and make a real effort to find something your friend could truly enjoy. Be available but don’t be overbearing in your desire to help. Ultimately, it is up to your friend. He or she will accept as much help as possible without surrendering dignity or integrity.

800-917-7787 to speak with a health care advocate or for more information view the website at: health.


Talk Vermont is an initiative aimed at fostering open and meaningful conversations about healthcare preferences and end-of-life care. By encouraging discussions among older adults, their families, and healthcare providers, Talk Vermont ensures that patients’ wishes are understood and respected. This initiative equips patient advocates with tools and strategies to facilitate these crucial conversations, ensuring that older adults’ preferences are honored. For more information visit


Part of Vermont’s Blueprint for Health, CHTs supplement coordinated care to older adults, including support from social workers, nurse coordinators, and

mental health counselors. Advocates within these teams ensure holistic care.

The Future of Patient Advocacy

As Vermont’s population continues to age, the demand for patient advocacy will grow. To meet this demand, several steps are essential:


Enhancing training programs for advocates will ensure they are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills to serve older adults effectively.


Advocates must also work at the policy level, pushing for legislation that protects and benefits older adults. This includes advocating for better funding for healthcare services and protections against elder abuse.


Building strong community networks will ensure that older adults and their families are aware of the available resources and support systems.


Utilizing technology, such as telehealth and electronic health records, can improve access to care and streamline advocacy efforts.

Person-Centered Patient advocacy is an indispensable service for older adults in Vermont, ensuring they receive the care and respect they deserve. By addressing the challenges and leveraging the support systems in place, advocates can significantly improve the quality of life for Vermont’s aging population. As the state continues to adapt to the needs of its older residents, the role of patient advocates will remain pivotal in creating a compassionate and effective healthcare system. VM

Alicia is a trusted Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)® & Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)®. She can be reached at 802-318-0441, AliciaFleming@ &

4 Essential Steps to Consider Before Downsizing to a Smaller Home

As retirement approaches, many older adults find themselves contemplating downsizing to a smaller home. Whether it’s to reduce maintenance, lower expenses, or simply to simplify their lifestyle, this transition can be both exciting and daunting. However, before taking the plunge into a smaller living space, there are several important steps older adults should consider to ensure a smooth and successful downsizing process.

Declutter and Organize

Downsizing often means moving from a larger space to a more compact one, so it’s crucial to declutter and organize belongings before making the move. Start by going through each room and sorting items into categories: keep, donate/sell, and discard. Consider the size and layout of your new home and be realistic

about what items you’ll have space for. Sentimental items can be the most difficult to part with, but it’s important to prioritize what truly adds value to your life and let go of the rest. If necessary, enlist the help of family members or professional organizers to make the process more manageable.

Assess Your Needs and Lifestyle

Before downsizing, take some time to reflect on your current and future needs and lifestyle preferences. Consider factors such as mobility, accessibility, and proximity to amenities and support services. Do you require a home with fewer stairs or wider doorways? Are you looking for a community with social activities and amenities tailored to older adults? By identifying your priorities and must-haves, you can narrow down your search for a smaller home that meets your specific needs and preferences. Additionally, think about whether you plan to age in place or if you may need to factor in potential future care needs when choosing a new home.

Create a Financial Plan

Downsizing can offer financial benefits, such as reduced mortgage or rent payments, lower utility bills, and decreased maintenance costs. However, it’s essential to carefully consider the financial implications of downsizing before making any

decisions. Create a comprehensive financial plan that considers your current assets, income, expenses, and long-term goals. Factor in onetime costs associated with moving, such as real estate commissions, closing costs, and moving expenses, as well as ongoing expenses in your new home. Consult with a financial advisor to ensure that downsizing aligns with your overall financial strategy and retirement goals.

Plan for the Transition

Moving to a smaller home involves more than just packing up your belongings and relocating. It’s a significant life transition that requires careful planning and preparation. Start by creating a timeline for the move and breaking down tasks into manageable steps. Research moving companies or consider enlisting the help of friends and family to assist with packing and transporting belongings. If you’re selling your current home, work with a real estate agent who has experience

with senior clients and understands your unique needs and preferences. Additionally, take the time to familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood and community to ease the transition and help you feel at home.

In conclusion, downsizing to a smaller home can be a rewarding and liberating experience for seniors, but it requires careful planning and consideration. By decluttering and organizing belongings, assessing needs and lifestyle preferences, creating a financial plan, and planning for the transition, seniors can ensure a smooth and successful downsizing process. With the right preparation and support, downsizing can be the beginning of an exciting new chapter in life. VM

This article was brought to you by Preferred Properties. With over two decades of real estate experience and training, Barb utilizes her knowledge and expertise to help her clients successfully navigate life’s toughest transitions. Visit their website at PreferredPropertiesVT. com.

Personal Resilience Plan Step 4

Resilience Begins with Modest Expectations that Expect Potholes

As previously announced, we are devoting the entire 2024 year to helping readers build a Personal Resilience Plan. We have previously covered the topics of mature adult neuropsychology and locus of control.

Our focus for this month’s article is our private selfnarrative. Renowned Neurologist Oliver Sacks 1 gave us this perspective on self-narratives. “We have, each of us, a life-story, an inner narrative — whose continuity, whose sense, is our lives. It might be said that each

of us constructs and lives, a “narrative,” and that this narrative is us, our identities.

U.K. Psychologist Charles Fernyhough has this ‘take’ on the subject: “We spin narratives about ourselves to make sense of who we are, and those narratives make us simultaneously the author, the narrator, and the protagonist of the story. We are the cacophony of our mental voices. We listen to them as well as utter them; they construct us through their incessant chatter.”

The problem many of us confront is adeptly put by San Francisco Bay Area Psychologist Rick Hanson: “The mind acts like Velcro for negative experiences

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and like Teflon for positive ones.” This unfortunate reality frequently shapes the self-narrative in a critical, disparaging tone. Most people can offer sincere and heartfelt sympathy to our best friends when they experience setbacks. However, when those same supportive individuals encounter a personal setback, they can often criticize themselves with painful severity.

My own Silicon Valley research reveals the veracity of this quality. We surveyed 1600 adult residents of Silicon Valley regarding their lifestyle habits as well as their psychological beliefs and habits. When asked

how they respond to a planned fitness outing that gets cancelled or pushed out, we found stark differences between the group that had already established an active lifestyle routine vs. the part of our sample who had little to no fitness activity.

For the group who had established fitness routines, a failed outing meant very little. One in five people in that group got discouraged. For the sedentary group, a failed outing seemed to be a confirmation that their efforts to build and sustain fitness activities were doomed to failure. More than 70% of the latter group got discouraged and 75% of them were inclined to give up their attempts to build active lifestyle habits.

Resilience begins with modest expectations that anticipate potholes and obstacles on the road to goal achievement. Resilient people have contingency plans prepared and ready to implement when something goes wrong in the original plan.

Resilient folk break down big, ambitious plans into bite-sized chunks. They are committed to taking little steps in the direction of larger goals knowing that it may take time to achieve the more ambitious goal. Lose the idea of running a marathon. Start with regular outings on a modest scale. Build confidence in your ability to make progress on a consistent basis.

Resilient people are self-compassionate. Adopt the same sympathetic and supportive tone in your selfnarrative that you would offer to a close friend who is experiencing frustration with repeated setbacks.

Our personal self-narrative provides the ideal opportunity to put these practices in place. Build your personal resilience with a self-narrative that coaches gradual behavior change supported by self-compassion.

1. Robin Williams played the role of Oliver Sacks, starring in the 1990 film “Awakenings.” VM

Richard Houston, Ed.D., is an aging baby boomer who is ramping up his productivity rate in his mid70’s. He swears that his brain has never been more productive. Check out his web sites at Senior-psych. com and Resilience-Advocate.

Enhancing Mobility and Preventing Falls:

A Guide to Safe Walking and Balance for Older Adults

As we age, maintaining mobility and balance becomes increasingly crucial for a healthy and independent lifestyle. As a physical therapist specializing in geriatric care, I have witnessed firsthand the challenges that many older adults face when it comes to staying steady on their feet. However, with the right knowledge and techniques, it is possible to improve and maintain safe mobility well into our golden years.

Walking is a fundamental activity of daily living, and it plays a significant role in maintaining independence and quality of life for older adults. Unfortunately, age-related changes such as muscle weakness, joint stiffness, and reduced sensory perception can increase the risk of falls and mobility issues. That’s

why it’s essential to take proactive steps to address these challenges and promote safe walking and balance.

One valuable tool in this endeavor is the VST Balance Screening, an innovative fall-risk assessment system that utilizes artificial intelligence and machine vision technology to objectively identify individual deficits in balance, gait, and function. This screening provides clinicians with precise and actionable data, allowing us to tailor interventions and care plans to meet the unique needs of each individual, ultimately reducing the risk of falls and improving overall mobility.

In addition to utilizing advanced assessment tools like the VST Balance Screening, there are several practical strategies and exercises that older adults can

incorporate into their daily routine to enhance mobility and prevent falls:

Strengthening Exercises

Engaging in regular strength training exercises can help improve muscle tone and stability, reducing the risk of falls. Focus on exercises that target the lower body, such as squats, lunges, and calf raises. Start slow and be safe as you begin new exercises. These activities can be done with the support of a wall, railing, or chair. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t able to achieve perfect form.

Balance Training

Practice balance exercises to improve coordination and your body’s ability to sense its own movement and location. Simple activities like standing on one leg, walking heel to toe, or using a balance board can help challenge and improve balance skills. These activities

can be done while using a cane or walker or holding on to a wall or piece of furniture.

Flexibility Exercises

Stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and range of motion, making it easier to move freely and maintain stability while walking. Incorporate stretches for the major muscle groups, including the legs, hips, and lower back.

Proper Footwear

Wearing supportive and properly fitting footwear is essential for safe walking. Choose shoes with non-slip soles and adequate arch support to provide stability and reduce the risk of tripping or slipping.

Home Safety Modifications

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Dr. Sydney R. Swindell, DPT & Zachary Wilson, PTA, RVT 62 Merchants Row, Ste 202, Williston, VT 05495 802-857-5407 •

Make modifications to the home environment to reduce fall hazards, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom, removing tripping hazards like loose rugs, and ensuring adequate lighting in hallways and stairwells. VM

Matelyn Ulrich is a physical therapist who has a passion for promoting healthy aging.

What to Do About Medicare and Social Security When You Move

If you are a Social Security and Medicare recipient, you definitely need to let these Federal agencies know when and where you move so there are no hiccups in your benefits or coverage.

Here’s what you should know.


If you’re receiving Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability benefits, it’s required that you notify the Social Security Administration when you move to ensure your deposits continue and you avoid disruptions.

You’ll need to provide them your new mailing address so they can deliver important documents to you like your annual SSA-1099 tax form. And if you’re switching banks or credit unions, you’ll need to update your direct deposit information by providing your new

financial institution’s routing number and account number.

If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, they also need your new mailing address so bills, correspondence, your Medicare Summary Notice and other statements can go to the correct address.

You can update both your Social Security and Medicare contact information online by simply using the “My Profile” tab in your personal “my Social Security” account at If you don’t have an account, you can create one online for free in just a few minutes.

Or, if you need some help or don’t have internet access, you can call Social Security at 800-772-1213, or visit your local Social Security office and they will make the changes for you.


You also need to know that if you’re enrolled in original Medicare, you can move anywhere within

the United States without losing coverage. But if you have Part D prescription drug coverage or a Medicare Advantage plan from a private health insurance company, and you move out of the plan’s service area, you’ll have to switch plans or you’ll face losing coverage.

Part D service areas typically are statewide or can extend to parts of neighboring states, while Medicare Advantage plans’ service areas vary by county.

Moving out of a plan’s service area qualifies you for a special enrollment period (SEP) of at least two months to get a new plan. You may also qualify if you move within your plan’s service area and it offers options different from what you had. The enrollment timing depends on when you notify the plan.

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If you tell your plan before you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month before the month you move and continues for two full months after you move. If you tell your plan after you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month you tell your plan, plus two more full months.

To shop for new Part D and Medicare Advantage plans in your new area, use the Medicare Plan Finder tool at

You can also switch Part D or Medicare Advantage plans during open enrollment, which runs each year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 for coverage starting Jan. 1.


If you’re enrolled in original Medicare and have a Medigap supplemental policy you usually don’t have to switch plans if you move, but you do need to notify your provider. Some insurers let you keep the rate based on the state where you originally applied for Medigap. Others may change your premiums to coincide with their coverage in a different zip code. VM Jim Miller publishes the Savvy Senior, a nationally

Take a Hike! – The Perks of Bozeman Parks

“ Happiness comes to those who love parks

s a longtime community volunteer and twice elected to a City Commission seat, Mary Vant Hull (1926-2017) would be thrilled to know that her adopted hometown of Bozeman, Montana, still highly values the city parks and trails she helped develop and improve after moving there in the early 1960s.

With more than 50 miles of trails spread throughout some 40 public parks today, seniors visiting the seat of Gallatin County will find plenty of opportunity to stretch their legs along the meandering pathways throughout the park system. While many are flat and paved, it’s worth attempting some of the slightly more ambitious trails such as Peets Hill.

Located in Burke Park, the walk to Peets Hill is more challenging due to the slight elevation but worth tackling the gravelly pathways since it offers a dazzling

panoramic view of the surrounding mountain ranges for which Bozeman is famous. I observed many seniors (couples and singles) trekking the paths with no difficulty.

But for an easy initial walk, begin at Lindley Park located behind the city library on East Main Street. Established in the 1920s, it’s one of the city’s oldest parks. In addition to walkers of all ages, expect to share the paths with joggers, bicyclists, skateboarders, and off-leash dogs (permitted in some areas). During my visit, all mingled without any issues while enjoying the fresh Bozeman spring air. Also behind the library is the Bozeman Sculpture Park featuring dozens of contemporary outdoor artistic works to admire – or bewilder you! – as you stroll by. While some are permanent park fixtures, others are for sale such as Steve Connell’s

massive bright yellow steel structure entitled “Cartoon” listed for $28,000.

And if your pockets are deeper, Jessica Bodner’s stunning “Vessel in Red” is perched atop Peets Hill and available for $47,000. Comprising a mass of curved red geometric metal filaments, perhaps a generous donor will purchase the work and let it remain in its current location where, from the right viewing angle, it’s perfectly poised to frame the distant mountain range.

Between Lindley and Burke Parks is the 73-acre Sunset Hills Cemetery which the city calls a “virtual arboretum of stately pine, fir, spruce, ash, maple, cedar, and various ornamental trees” and worth a respectful stroll through.  It’s the resting home to over 16,000 souls including American television newscaster “Chet” Huntley whom many seniors will remember as a former NBC

evening news co-anchor. John Bozeman, a pioneer of the American West and for whom the city is named, is also buried there.

After tackling the hillier paths, welcoming wooden benches thoughtfully placed along the way provide a perfect spot to relax, enjoy the view and, if needed, catch your breath. Riveted into one is a small unobtrusive metal plaque inscribed, “Happiness comes to those who love parks,” a quote attributed to Mary Vant Hull. This modest acknowledgment to the former advocate for the Bozeman parks system is beautifully appropriate for someone who championed the recreational and social benefits of these essential public spaces that foster peace of mind, good health, and a connection with nature for all who briefly walk their paths. VM

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama and has written features, columns, and interviews for many newspapers and magazines. His “Take a Hike!” column describes short trails, hikes, and walks from around the country that seniors might enjoy while traveling. His website is

How to Find a Good Doctor

Finding and researching doctors is a lot easier than it used to be. Today, there are variety of websites you can turn to that provide databases of U.S. doctors, their professional medical histories, and ratings and reviews from past patients on several criteria. Here are some good sites to help you get started, along with a few additional tips that can help you find the right doctors.

Searching Tips

To help you locate some good doctors in your area, a good first step is to get referrals from trusted friends, along with any doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals you know.

You also need to check your insurance provider. Call your insurer for a list of approved doctors or ask whether the doctor you’re considering is in-network.

If you are enrolled in original Medicare, you can use the care compare tool at (click on “Doctors & Clinicians.”) This will let you find doctors by name, medical specialty or by geographic location that accept original Medicare. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, call or visit the plan website to get a list of approved candidates.

Once you find a few doctors, you need to call their office to verify that they still accept your insurance, and if they are accepting new patients.

You should also consider hospital affiliation. Your choice of doctor can determine which hospital you go to, if needed, so find out where the doctor has admitting privileges. Then use some hospital ratings services like (click on “Hospitals”) to see how it compares with other hospitals in the area.

Researching Doctors

After you find a few doctors you’re interested in, there are various websites you can consult, to help you evaluate them. For example, the Federation of State Medical Boards offers a tool at that will let you find out doctor’s board certifications, education, states with active licenses, and whether or not a physician has been disciplined by a state medical board.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS Data) is also a good source for researching doctors. For example, it will help you find out how many times a doctor did a particular procedure and what they charge for it – go to and click on “Medicare Physician & Other Practitioner Look-up Tool.” And to learn about the financial relationship that doctors have with drug and medical device companies, visit

Some other good sites for finding and researching healthcare professionals include and

Both sites provide substantial doctor’s information on education and training, hospital affiliations, board certification, awards and recognitions, professional misconduct, disciplinary action, office locations and accepted insurance plans.

They also offer 5-star ratings scales from past patients on issues such as communication and listening skills, wait time, time spent with the patient, office friendliness and more. But be aware that while physician rating websites can be helpful, they can also be misleading and unreliable. VM

Jim Miller publishes the Savvy Senior, a nationally syndicated column that offers advice for Boomers and Seniors.

David Selby’s Mom was a Big Fan

Born and raised in West Virginia, David Selby’s extensive film, television, and stage career included prominent roles in two very different TV shows in different generations: ABC’s gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows” in the 60s and the prime-time soap “Falcon Crest” on CBS in the 80s.

“My mother (Sarah) loved that I was an actor,” said Selby from Los Angeles, but she had no background in the entertainment world. Her upbringing in a coal mining town was a tough one, being responsible for raising her brothers and sisters.

“She managed to graduate from high school and met my father who was raised on a farm,” recalled Selby.

“Mom continued to work hard at various jobs including the local Montgomery Wards, in a bakeshop, and her last job was as a bookkeeper in an office supply place. But she never liked to talk about herself – at all. Her focus was always on the family. She was also a meticulous housekeeper and did not like messes.”

Tidying, says Selby, is a trait he inherited and for which his family has always ribbed him for his constant dusting, washing, and sweeping. “Sarah is among us!” he says his wife, Chip, will lovingly announce.

To honor his late mother and her influence on his life, Selby wrote “They Don’t Call Me Sarah for Nothing,” a short but compelling monologue he composed for Smartphone Theatre, a live stream digital performance platform presented via Zoom and created during the early pandemic months to showcase original productions. Selby’s reading streamed live in March 2022 and can be viewed on YouTube.

“I would act like my mother unconsciously,” he said. “The kids would say ‘grandma says that’ or my wife would say ‘you sound like your mother.’ So, I wrote ‘They Don’t Call Me Sarah for Nothing’ because it was cathartic for me to talk about her and realize, my God, how much she meant to me.”

Despite their loving relationship, young David found her constant working difficult to understand. Nevertheless, he recalled, “she always somehow managed to look like a million dollars! Even taking out the trash or going to the grocery store in our little community, she was always cautious about looking her best.”

As he grew older and with no initial interest in acting, Selby planned to enroll in West Virginia University but needed tuition funds. “So, I went to Atlantic City in the summer and worked at a restaurant,

then returned with a pocket full of money to pay for my first half-year’s tuition. I lived at home so I could walk to class as a freshman but didn’t really know what I was going to do.”

That’s when an adviser for students whose names started with an ‘S’ spotted Selby standing in the enrollment line for classes. “He said, ‘you look like you could be in theater’ and it turned out he was a theater instructor,” Selby remembered. “He talked me into it and, lo and behold, I began doing plays at the university right away.”

After completing his degree, Selby moved to Illinois where he completed a Ph.D. in the arts, but not before moving to the East Coast and accepting his first TV role.

“I didn’t finish my Ph.D. until after I was in New York doing ‘Dark Shadows’ – in fact, I copied my dissertation at the office where we shot the show,” he recalled. His wife even took a job as an editor and then as a college English teacher so David could pursue his acting career (see

But what did his mom really think about his acting career?

“She watched every show I did, from the plays at university and summer stock to ‘Dark Shadows,’ ‘Falcon Crest’ and everything else,” he says. “Aside from my wife, my mother was my biggest fan. I loved her dearly.” VM

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, in Alabama, and has written features, columns, and interviews for numerous magazines and newspapers. See

Financial and Legal Resources for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Money is a common problem for the nearly 2.4 million U.S. grandparents who are raising their grandchildren today. To help with the dayto-day expenses, there are a wide variety of programs and tax benefits that can make a big difference in stretching your budget. Here’s where to look for help.

Financial Assistance

For starters, find out whether your family qualifies for your state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which may include cash assistance, food benefits, utility bill assistance and free or low-cost daycare. Or, if your household income is too high to qualify as a family, ask about the “childonly grant” for just the grandkids support alone.

Also, check to see if you’re eligible for foster care payments as a relative caregiver, or if your state offers any additional programs like guardianship subsidies, non-parent grants or kinship care. Adoption assistance payments are also available to adopted

grandchildren with special needs. The state of Vermont offers Vermont Kin as Parents, and you can visit their website at

To inquire about these programs, contact your state’s TANF program and/or state Department of Human Services.

You also need to see if your grandkids are eligible for Social Security, including benefits for dependent children, survivor benefits or SSI – visit or call 800-772-1213. And find out if they’re eligible for free/ low-cost health or dental coverage through your state’s Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program – InsureKidsNow. gov or 877-543-7669.

You can also use, the official benefits website of the U.S. government that has a screening tool to help you identify the programs that you and your grandchildren may be eligible for and will direct you to the appropriate agency to apply.

(Continued on page 29)

How to Transform Your Home and Habits for the Empty Nest Phase

As you enter the empty nest phase, you face a unique blend of challenges and opportunities. This period is ideal for rediscovering yourself and reshaping your day-to-day life. Embrace the freedom that now presents itself. The strategies outlined will guide you in smoothly transitioning into this exciting new chapter. Each approach is designed to help you adjust and flourish during this change. Embrace these methods to fully capitalize on the potential of your newfound independence.

Strengthen Bonds with Loved Ones

You now have the chance to deepen relationships with family and friends. Organizing regular meetups, whether for vacations, dinner parties, or coffee, helps keep your social bonds strong. These moments are not just about filling your schedule but about enriching your life with the warmth of shared experiences and laughter.

Redefine Your Financial Strategies

It’s an ideal time to reassess your financial strategy, focusing on optimizing your budget to support personal goals and dreams deferred earlier. Redirect your financial resources to support leisure pursuits, personal development, or any long-awaited adventures. This financial realignment is both practical and liberating, allowing you to finance your passions with greater freedom.

Organize and Simplify

If you’ve been delaying organization, now is the time to use your free time to sort important documents like medical records and estate plans. Digitizing your documents not only streamlines your filing but also reduces clutter. Saving documents as PDFs preserves

their layout and appearance consistently across different systems, ensuring the content appears as intended on any device.

Cultivate Your Green Thumb

Discover the therapeutic benefits of gardening. Nurture plants in a small greenhouse to enhance your connection with nature. Consider creating an indoor oasis filled with a variety of potted plants. Tend to a backyard garden where your efforts can yield both flowers and vegetables. Each gardening activity allows you to reconnect with the earth and find tranquility. Unlock your green thumb today—visit for expert guides and tips!

Embrace Exercise

Incorporating physical activity into your routine is crucial for maintaining health and vitality. Experiment with different sports or activities to find one that fits your lifestyle and preferences. From the calm of yoga to the concentration of golf or the adventure of hiking, each exercise offers unique benefits and new ways to challenge yourself.

Engage with Your Community

Volunteering or joining a local group can enrich your life in profound ways. Contributing to community projects or initiatives gives a sense of purpose and belonging. This engagement is not just about giving back but also about creating connections and building a network of friends and acquaintances in your local area.

Revel in Nature’s Beauty

Immerse yourself in nature by taking regular walks in a nearby park, which can significantly enhance your mental and emotional health. Plan weekend camping trips to deepen your connection with the natural world. Spend quiet afternoons in a garden to experience tranquility and rejuvenation. Let nature instill a sense of peace and awe within you. Appreciate the beauty of the simple things in life as you engage with the outdoors. Launch a Book Club

Starting or joining a book club can transform your reading habit into a social activity that stimulates the

mind. Engage in lively discussions that allow you to explore new literary genres. Share and contrast different perspectives with fellow literature enthusiasts. Meeting people who share your passion for books enriches your social circle. This intellectual stimulation helps maintain the sharpness of your cognitive skills. Engaging conversations keep your social interactions intriguing and diverse.

The empty nest period is your chance to redefine life according to your desires. Each provided tip serves as a pathway to not just fill your days but to enhance them significantly. These strategies ensure that your upcoming life chapter is both vibrant and fulfilling. Embrace each day with enthusiasm and curiosity. Discover that life continues to offer abundant opportunities and joys even after your nest has emptied. Explore these possibilities to fully experience and appreciate this transformative stage of your life. VM

Carrie Spencer is the owner of The Spencers Adventures. You can visit her website at

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(Continued from page 27)

Tax Benefits

In addition to the financial assistance programs, there are also a range of tax benefits that you may qualify for too like the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC which is available to those with moderate to low incomes, and the Child Tax Credit which is worth $2,000 per dependent child under age 17.

If you’re working, and are incurring childcare expenses to work, there’s a Child and Dependent Care Credit that can help. And, if you’ve legally adopted your grandkids, there’s an Adoption Tax Credit that provides a federal tax credit of up to $16,810 in 2024.

You can also deduct medical and dental expenses if you and your dependent

grandchildren’s healthcare costs exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income for the year. And there’s even education-related tax credits that can help your grandkids go to college, like the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit.

In addition to the tax credits and deductions, if you’re unmarried you may qualify for “head of household” status when you file your tax return, which has a higher standard deduction and a lower tax rate than you would filing as a single.

Legal Help

You should also talk to an attorney to discuss the pros and cons of obtaining legal guardianship, custody, or adoption. Without some sort of legal custody, you

may not be eligible for many of the previously listed financial assistance programs, and there can be problems with basic things like enrolling your grandkids in school or giving a doctor permission to treat them.

For help locating affordable or free legal assistance, visit, or call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for referrals. Also see GrandFamilies. org, a clearinghouse resource that offers information on financial assistance, adoption, foster care and more. VM

Jim Miller publishes the Savvy Senior, a nationally syndicated column that offers advice for Boomers and Seniors.

Unparalleled Care and Community Commitment at Pine Heights

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Nestled in the heart of Brattleboro, Vermont, Pine Heights at Brattleboro Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation stands as a beacon of compassionate care and community dedication. Located at 187 Oak Grove Avenue, Brattleboro, VT, this healthcare haven operates 24/7, 365 days a year, ensuring that patients receive top-notch care whenever needed.

Pine Heights at Brattleboro has been an affiliate of National Health Care Associates since 2009, solidifying its commitment to excellence and quality care over the years. The facility boasts a rich history of serving the local community and becoming a trusted healthcare provider.

At the core of Pine Heights’ offerings is a dedicated sub-acute short-term special care unit, along with long-term care units providing skilled nursing care and physical, occupational & speech therapy. The facility’s comprehensive approach ensures that residents receive tailored care plans, addressing both short-term and long-term healthcare needs.

What sets Pine Heights apart in the healthcare industry is not only its range of services but also its unwavering commitment to core principles. Nina Willson, the Director of Admissions & Marketing, with 7.5 years of dedicated service, attests to the facility’s pride in being recognized as a Great Place to Work, certified in November 2023. In a remarkable achievement, Pine Heights was deficiency-free during its annual licensing survey in 2023, a testament to its unwavering commitment to exceptional standards of care.

One of Pine Heights’ unique features is the on-site LNA (Licensed Nursing Assistant) education program, which contributes to developing skilled healthcare professionals. This initiative enhances the facility’s workforce and strengthens the local healthcare community.

Pine Heights has consistently received a 5-star rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for over nine years. This recognition underscores the facility’s dedication to maintaining high-quality standards and providing exceptional resident care.

What truly sets Pine Heights above its competition is its commitment to the principles of kindness, compassion, service, and excellence. These principles form the bedrock of Pine Heights’ ethos, ensuring that every resident receives not only medical care but also the kindness and compassion that contribute to holistic well-being.

Nina Willson, the driving force behind Pine Heights’ community engagement, emphasizes the facility’s dedication to both patients and the local community. Pine Heights actively participates in a variety of local organizations, including the Brattleboro Winter Carnival, Downtown Business Alliance, Rotary Club, Toys for Tots, Elks Club, Brattleboro Senior Center, and more. This involvement underscores Pine Heights’ role as a community partner, extending its support beyond healthcare.

As Director of Admissions & Marketing, Nina values her role in the Pine Heights team and takes pride in serving the community she calls home. For further inquiries or to learn more about Pine Heights, Nina can be contacted via email or phone, reflecting the facility’s commitment to personalized communication.

In conclusion, Pine Heights at Brattleboro Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation is more than a healthcare facility; it is a community cornerstone dedicated to providing exceptional care and actively contributing to the local community’s well-being. Experience the Pine Heights difference, where kindness, compassion, and excellence converge to create a home for healing and holistic care.

Explore the world of Pine Heights at or contact them via email at or phone at 802-257-0307. Join their community on Facebook through Pine Heights at Brattleboro Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.

Jennifer Brandt Vermont News & Media
Nina Willson, Director or Admissions & Marketing, and Mary Reeder, Staff Development Coordinator

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