What would you say if a friend asked you to define independence?

Would you say sleeping in your own bed, or having your morning coffee just the way you like it? Does it mean simply being able to live in your own house surrounded by the familiar sights and sounds of home?

As we gather this weekend with family and friends to continue the July 4 festivities of the past week, we are reminded of the importance of independence.

For many of us, the ability to live safely at home is fundamental to our sense of independence. If given the choice, we would stay where we are, in the house where we are raising, or have raised, our kids, or where we live with our significant others. Sometimes, though, this is not possible without help, especially if you are temporarily sidelined by a fall or surgery, or if you are experiencing a change in health status or living with a chronic condition. This is why Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice (CVHHH) provides a range of services that fosters true independence for people of all ages.

Just ask Ilene Gillander or Carolyn Fernandez.

After falling and badly breaking her leg, Ilene Gillander worked for six weeks with Karen Bagley, one of CVHHH’s licensed physical therapists, to rebuild her strength, mobility and confidence. Ilene wanted to return to life as normal and worked diligently with Karen, practicing exercises to regain her balance. Eventually, Ilene safely transitioned from a crutch to a cane, and ultimately, fulfilled her goal of resuming driving, which helped her feel independent and get back to doing the activities that she most enjoys.

For the past three years, Carol Patterson has worked one-on-one with Carolyn Fernandez, who is 96 and lives at home in Northfield. Carol is one of CVHHH’s personal-care attendants, or PCAs, and helps Carolyn shower, dress, and brush her hair, among other tasks like light housekeeping and meal preparation. Carol often describes her work as routine. Carol is not only Mrs. Fernandez’s PCA, but her friend, and the two have developed a close, trusting relationship. With Carol’s help and companionship, Carolyn can continue to live safely and comfortably in her own home.

In addition to physical therapy and personal-care assistance, CVHHH offers 24/7 lactation support at home for moms and babies, wound care — including for wounds related to childbirth, telemedicine for diabetes management and hypertension, and end-of-life care.

Independence is one of CVHHH’s core organization values. The care that CVHHH provides is centered on meeting the medical and emotional needs of its patients and helping them to maintain their independence. This matters because it is what central Vermonters want. It’s what keeps our communities strong and intact. People are happier when they can stay in their own home and keep up important connections — like going to the annual July 4th parade or family barbecue.

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