A big danger of growing old is how quickly the rug of support can be ripped out from under you. Retired adults face the potential loss of children through distance, spouses through illness or death, and the possibility that their own independence or mobility could be erased with a single fall. Imagine living your whole life in a brick house that suddenly turns into a sand castle, ready to crumble at any moment.

As more people live longer, this problem is rippling outward. The issue of support, or lack thereof, is so prevalent that we’re beginning to see intervention at the state level, and Vermont seems to be leading the pack in proactively protecting its older adults. The Support and Services at Home program (SASH) is blazing a new trail for seniors who are still independent, but do better with their healthcare, social needs, and housing all in one place. While that sounds suspiciously like assisted living… it isn’t. Far from it, the SASH program is actively preventing seniors from being forced into nursing facilities, while at the same time enhancing their ability to lead healthy and independent lives.

America is growing older—and while our increased longevity is certainly a positive thing, it’s also presenting us with a unique situation. What can we do to help the super-agers? How can we ensure that people who are living healthier, longer lives are getting the unique support they require? SASH seems to have some of the answers, and their residents are not only thriving, they’re experiencing lower housing and healthcare costs—two major areas of concern for adults who are post-retirement. Vermont has established something of a magic formula that checks off all the boxes.

Housing: Housing through this program is not only inexpensive, it’s smart. By utilizing affordable public housing, SASH is able to concentrate residents with similar needs in a common area—thereby allowing them to better manage their particular needs around people who are fighting the same battles. They are more mobile, better able to monitor and take their medication, and are offered regular access to medical professionals in the comfort of their home. And speaking of medical care…

Wellness Monitoring: Seniors living in one of Vermont’s SASH communities have access to nurses who, on average, spend ten hours per week with the residents. Additionally, care coordinators work directly with community health professionals, area hospitals, and behavioral health agencies to create a profile specific to each resident. Through this information, every senior has customized care available to them, be it intervention and checkups for chronic conditions or simple diet and exercise monitoring.

Socialization: Residents in the program are given a multitude of options and opportunities for socialization and activities. From dance classes to meditation, socialization and independence are highly emphasized with options aplenty—a tactic that ups the odds of finding an activity that will speak to everyone.

92-year-old Jeanne Daly is certainly a fan. After losing her spouse and suffering a devastating fall, she found herself adrift where she’d once been firmly grounded. Her son moved her to Vermont to be closer to him and slowly, but surely SASH turned her world right-side-up again.

“I’m really starting to feel younger – it’s taken me back 10 years. I no longer feel my age since I’ve been up here.”