VNA receives $200,000 grant

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— The Visiting Nurse Association this week received a $200,000 grant supporting the organization's plans to improve seniors' quality of life.

The Daniels Fund in Denver awarded the grant to the VNA's aging well program, which aims to improve and expand existing services for seniors while promoting mental and physical health through new programming.

The Anschutz Family Found--ation also pledged support for those efforts this week with a $7,500 grant.

Part of the aging well approach encourages senior involvement in the community through educational and cultural activities. The VNA recently acquired The Haven assisted living facility in Hayden and plans to build a community center there to host such activities.

The VNA also wants to help seniors continue to live in their homes with transportation services and more programs supporting families and caregivers.

"We don't want to close our eyes to any needs in the senior community," said Dace Kramer, the VNA's aging well coordinator.

The late Bill Daniels understood the challenges of aging: The cable TV pioneer saw his mother struggle to maintain her dignity in her later years, and he pledged to support programs that empower seniors, said Peter Droege, Daniels Fund vice president.

"It's just a perfect fit for the kind of funding we're looking to do ... in terms of the quality and cost effectiveness of the program and ways that it will maximize the respect for (seniors') dignity," he said about the VNA grant.

In order to begin planning programs, the VNA will be working to understand where in the region seniors are living, their care needs and how they are involved in their communities -- or why they aren't involved in their communities, Kramer said.

"We're basically trying to take the temperature of the senior community in the region so we can begin designing programs that meet their needs," she said.

The organization plans to do that by studying community surveys, holding public meetings and focus groups and working with organizations such as the

Routt County Council on Aging.

"We will be listening to people about what specifically would help them," Kramer said.

Although wellness options for seniors are fairly common in urban areas, the VNA essentially is treading uncharted territory when it comes to developing such programs in a rural area.

That has helped attract the attention of foundations as well as national organizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons.

For information about the aging well concept or how to contribute, call the VNA at 879-1632.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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