Aging Well: VNA promotes healthier aging communities |

Aging Well: VNA promotes healthier aging communities

Annual meeting to highlight Aging Well projects, partnerships Wednesday

Tamera Manzanares

This artists' rendering shows the future Rollingstone Respite House, which will involve renovations of the former Selbe residence at Rollingstone Drive and Pine Grove Road. The project, which will include the first in-house hospice program in Northwest Colorado, will be among projects highlighted at the VNA's annual meeting.

If there were an image to describe the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association’s mission, it probably would be a chain, with each link representing health programs that make life better for residents from infancy to their final hours.

In the past several years, the VNA has focused much of its attention on the aging segment of this chain, working to provide wellness services to the growing number of adults ages 50 and older in Routt and Moffat counties.

The results include a popular array of mostly free exercise and chronic-disease self-management classes spanning from Maybell to Yampa. New facilities also will offer aging options, such as on-site hospice and adult day programs, which do not currently exist in Northwest Colorado.

These accomplishments, as well as the statewide and community partnerships that have helped make it all possible, will be celebrated at the VNA’s annual meeting Wednesday.

The meeting is a precursor to Older Adults Month in September, which Gov. Bill Ritter has designated as a time to honor the contributions residents ages 60 and older make to Colorado’s communities and economy.

“We’re pretty delighted to have our annual meeting be the kickoff for this older adults month and to honor all that we’ve achieved in 2007,” said Sue Birch, VNA chief executive officer.

Recommended Stories For You

Bringing resources to

the elderly community

Residents are invited to the annual meeting, which will feature guest speakers who have partnered with the VNA to offer Healthier Living, a chronic disease self-management program.

Healthier Living is among the classes, including Tai Chi, N’Balance and Arthritis Foundation Fitness, that have benefited nearly 450 people throughout the valley.

Developed by Stanford University, the Healthier Living workshop helps people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and arthritis better manage their health to minimize symptoms of pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Alarmed by the amount of money the state was spending to treat chronic conditions, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in 2006 partnered with the Consortium for Older Adult Wellness, a Colorado nonprofit, to implement the Healthier Living program in communities statewide.

Using a grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging, the partners designated three agencies, including the Northwest Colorado VNA, to help in this effort. During a three-year period, the VNA is helping start Healthier Living programs in communities throughout the Western Slope.

The Consortium, which manages the statewide system, also trains instructors to teach Healthier Living and other wellness classes to older adults.

Christine Katzenmeyer, executive director of the Consortium, and Penny Studebaker, Healthier Living program coordinator with the state Department of Public Health and Environment, will elaborate on aging issues facing communities.

Studebaker said the state’s partnership with the Consortium and agencies such as the VNA have created an innovative healthy aging system that is helping adults where they are most able to be helped – in their communities.

“We have a lot of resources at our community level,” she said. “It’s just getting the word out so communities can take care of their own.”

The infrastructure link

An important and ambitious element of the VNA’s Aging Well vision in Northwest Colorado has been planning and constructing facilities that will provide more options to older adults and their families.

The first major project is the expansion of The Haven Assisted Living Center in Hayden. The expansion, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year, includes a large, dividable community room with space for a variety of classes and programs for older adults, as well as rental space for other events such as weddings and parties.

In addition to the community room, The Haven expansion includes an Internet cafe, physical therapy space and an area for adult day services, which will provide care, meals and activities for elderly and disabled adults while caregivers work or take personal time.

Expanding its reputation for providing high-quality, compassionate end-of-life care, the VNA is planning the Rollingstone Respite House in Steamboat Springs. The project will involve renovating the former Selbe home at Rollingstone Drive near Yampa Valley Medical Center into a multipurpose facility offering hospice suites, family bereavement programs, adult day services and caregiver support programs. Renovations are slated to begin in the fall.

Thanks to support from the community and Colorado foundations, the VNA has secured about two-thirds of funds needed to complete these projects, and it is continuing fundraising efforts.

For more information about contributing to either project, call Suzi Mariano, VNA public information coordinator, at 879-1632.

VNA annual meeting

The public is invited to attend “Creating Aging Linkages for Healthier Communities” from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the VNA office, 940 Central Park Drive.

Guest speakers from the Consortium for Older Adult Wellness and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will speak at about 5 p.m. For more information, call Suzi Mariano at 879-1632.

To donate:

The VNA’s Aging Well program welcomes donations to help with construction of The Haven Community Center in Hayden and the Rollingstone Respite House in Steamboat Springs.

Haven donors qualify for state income tax credits of 25 percent of their contributions to The Haven’s designation as a Rural Development Enterprise project. Donations may be sent to: Suzi Mariano, NWCOVNA, 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487.