Vermont Seniors Share Similar Concerns About Direction US Is Headed, Economy, Other Issues As Many New York Seniors


Nearly 1,000 Vermonters Wrote Back

Editor’s note: So many of the below comments submitted to Senator Sanders by Vermont seniors could have been uttered by New Yorkers as well.  Affordable housing for seniors is also a real issue on Staten Island and in New York as a whole.  Remember the recent assistance by the Catholic Church to save our own Eger Health Care Center (with affordable assisted living options as well as a nursing home and other facilities), where readers learned about the already astronomical and continually increasing costs to run a senior care facility, which leads to fewer such facilities, having a detrimental effect on seniors seeking options.  

The Pearl, an affordable housing complex, reserved half of the units for previously unhoused seniors who are unable to afford other options.  The Canterbury House also provides affordable senior housing. However, the demand is much greater, even on Staten Island, than what is available for rental or purchase.  This leads to undesirable living situations for many seniors, including those helped by charities such as Meals On Wheels, which delivers complete meals to homebound senior citizens in our community. 

In my view, our nation has fallen far, far behind what we owe as a democratic and humane society to the people who raised us.

Too many seniors and older folks, both at home in Vermont and across the country, are living in poverty. Too many are pushing back retirement because they do not have enough savings to live on. Too many are struggling to afford groceries, health care, and housing. Too many are socially isolated and dealing with chronic health conditions, falls, and lack of transportation.

This should not be happening in the richest country in the history of the world.

As your Senator, I am working hard to ensure that the urgent needs of seniors and older Vermonters are finally met. This means fighting to lower the cost of prescription drugs, reauthorize and improve the Older Americans Act, address the retirement crisis, reduce the senior poverty rate and senior hunger, expand Social Security, strengthen our primary health care system, and more.

But progress is not going to happen just from Washington. It happens when we come together in our communities and share our experiences. It happens when we begin to realize that we are not alone in what we are facing.

Recently, I asked older Vermonters and seniors to write into the Bernie Buzz to share some of the issues they and their acquaintances are dealing with. To my surprise, we received nearly 1,000 responses from all over the state. People have concerns and they want to be heard.

I hope you will take a look below at what they had to say. You’ll find it very interesting.

Age: 94 | Town: Danville, VT

Climate change and health care for everyone! Climate change is probably first because if we don’t have a healthy environment, even the best health care won’t matter. There are a few other issues I care about, like scarcity of housing, low wages in almost all meaningful sectors of work, but climate and health care are top on the list!

Age: 76 | Town: Pownal, VT

Right now crappy weather. Temps are up too high during the day to keep my sap from fermenting. Lack of snow in February doesn’t help either. Have only boiled three gallons this season so far from my 18 taps. First batch was a little over a gallon Amber grade. Second boil was two gallons of Very Dark Espresso grade (due to fermenting sap). Last year by this time had made over seven gallons. Climate change is damaging Vermont maple production, and especially bad for back yard guys.

Age: 85 | Town: Middlebury, VT

War in so many places – Ukraine, Haiti, Israel and Gaza, Sudan, Persian Gulf, etc. Climate change and the future for my children and grandchildren. Lack of affordable housing for so many people.

Age: 78 | Town: Westford, VT

I am terrified by the cost of health insurance and prescription prices. I soon will not be able to have the ozempic I need to stay healthy and able to care for my family.

Age: 65 | Town: Orwell, VT

I am concerned with the talk of cutting Social Security benefits. The benefits as they stand right now, are just a drop in the bucket for meeting expenses.

Age: 86 | Town: Bennington, VT

I am concerned about our Democracy. US Congress people need to stop acting like “school yard bullies” and work together on the issues that matter: climate change, health care, gun control, education, etc. What happened to compromise? The situation in Gaza is horrid; people need to come to the peace table.

Age: 80 | Town: Burlington, VT

High cost of and lack of housing. Increasing cost of food. Always health care issues – cost of medication. Why doesn’t Medicare cover dental and vision costs for seniors? Increasing violence in all of society. Destruction of the environment. Terrified of the possibility of another Trump presidency.

Age: 87 | Town: Rutland, VT

Not un-common, pharmacy prices, retail price of eliquis, formerly made in Europe, now in the FarEast, $1836 for 180 pills. Maybe my math is wrong but it looks like $10 per pill.  Even with Medicare D it is $500 four refills per year. I have bought a lot of cars in my life that didn’t cost $2000.

Age: 90 | Town: Peru, VT

First of all, I am scared to death about the tenor of the conversation in this country which is spilling over into Vermont. Never, in my life time, have people lied so blatantly and engaged in five-year-old behavior. Climate mitigation is the number one issue that keeps me awake at night. What kind of world are we leaving our grandchildren and great grandchildren? We have known the problem since the Carter years and certainly Biden is on the right track. But we are not going nearly far enough to turn things around.

Age: 66 | Town: Stowe, VT

Health Care: too expensive, too complicated in figuring which plan is best for me, requires predicting when you might need prescription coverage when you’re not sick. Has me so worried that it is making me ill.

Age: 81 | Town: Glover, VT

I am concerned about the complete lack of public transportation available to rural people. If I can’t drive, I can’t stay in my home, as there are no options for visiting friends, going shopping, keeping appointments with doctors, dentists, etc. Then where does one live? Even if I were to be completely able to live unassisted, it would not be possible. A state or federal subsidized “Uber” of “Lyft” type of service would be great. The technology exists, but it would not be profitable enough for a company to undertake this without a subsidy.

Age: 75 | Town: Milton, VT

The rising tax and state fees for fixed income folks.

Age: 73 | Town: Dover, VT

Electricity is far too expensive. That is Number One for me.

Age: 69 | Town: Middlebury, VT

If property taxes continue to rise will I be able to afford living in VT? With climate change, the inconveniences for me have increased, i.e. difficult driving conditions. How do we navigate these changes as we age? I’d like some congregate senior housing that is not a nursing home – but senior co-housing where we could help and support each other.

Age: 81 | Town: Brookfield, VT

We still farm (mostly beef, chicken, eggs, vegetable, flowers). I’m 81 and my wife, who has taken over most of the business, is 61, but in a recent accident she broke her leg in two places requiring Orthopedic surgery. We don’t have work insurance for a temporary situation and there should be [such insurance] . Our farm has been in the family since 1914, but now no more generations will farm it,  [however]  we have sold part of it to a young farmer who is doing a wonderful vegetable business.

Age: 84 | Town: Norwich, VT

Medical care is confusing – no primary care, expensive prescriptions, confusing insurance options.

Age: 74 | Town: Thetford, VT

We live on Social Security, Medicare, and a small amount of retirement funds. We own our house, for which I am very grateful. But food, fuel, and health costs take a large bite, so we have to be very careful. I have no idea what we will do if we can’t be in the house due to old age issues or serious illness.

We are OK at the moment, but there are practically no options here for senior living/care that isn’t way out of our price range. Did we buy old places and fix them ourselves only to hand over that asset to a nursing home? It’s discouraging, and the future is scary, but I try to be thankful for what I do have – great friends and the best state to live in.


Women’s right to choose. Drug company price gouging. Global warming. Ageism. Support for Ukraine. Senior housing and the lack thereof. Saving our democracy.

Age: 83 | Town: St. Albans, VT

As an elderly widow, I am concerned about loneliness and the effect it has on both mental and physical health. The Senior Center helps to resolve some of these issues.

Our Senior Center does not have an elevator for many Seniors to be able to take part in the activities that are provided on the second floor. We are trying to find grants for the elevator so the second floor is availed for the exercise, Tai Chi, Line Dance, and other classes.

Age: 72 | Town: Shelburne, VT

Labor shortages. Who’s going to take care of us when we’re older??? No family, people, no rehab, no nursing home staff??? Very scary

Age: 87 | Town: Weston, VT

It now takes longer to secure an appointment with a physician….and there seems to be less primary care providers in Vermont these days.

Age: 68 | Town: Craftsbury, VT

Access to doctors (I still travel to Boston although I live in VT). Access to childcare (I take care of my grandson because my daughter and husband cannot find childcare in the NEK). Ability to stay in home as we age.

Age: 72 | Town: Danville, VT

What I find to be totally ludicrous are the hoops one has to jump through to figure out the best strategy for Medicare coverage. I am still more than capable of comprehending information, but Medicare regs have got to be an enormous challenge for those elders who might be struggling, even slightly. That’s one issue.

The other is decent senior housing that is affordable and allows seniors to live in an environment that is stimulating and accessible. This is especially important for seniors in our rural communities. I am fortunate to be able to continue to live and fully function in my own home, but that may not always be the case. Decent senior housing is falling short in my neck of the woods.

Age: 93 | Town: Putney, VT

I am well housed, well fed, and in good health. I am concerned for the many who are not so fortunate.

It is painful to recognize that there are many homeless, of all ages, in this state and around this wealthy country. I am deeply concerned about climate change, and the damaging effects it is having on all of us, and will have on future generations. I am concerned about gun violence, and the huge amount of the country’s budget that goes to the military.

Age: 66 | Town: Norwich, VT

I care about increasing inequities. I care about the lack of affordable housing. I care about the fact that education costs so much, cradle to grave.

I care that Vermonters are subject to disinformation campaigns full of hatred. I care about the fact that Vermont has such poor cell coverage and gaps in internet coverage. I care about the fact that the Democratic Party simply anoints candidates rather than waiting for the voters to speak. I am terrified that Trump will win again and destroy American democracy.

Age: 77 | Town: Randolph, VT

I am concerned about the shortage of independent and assisted living options. I am also concerned about the lack of public transportation in rural areas.

How Can We Help?

My Vermont offices have experienced caseworkers on staff who help Vermonters navigate federal agencies every day. If you think my office can help, please do not hesitate to call 1-800-339-9834 or click here.

If you would like to share your thoughts on pending legislation, or if you have an idea that we could address through new legislation, click here.

Banner Image: Eger Nursing Home. Image Credit – Staten Islander News 


Senator Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is serving his third term in the U.S. Senate after winning re-election in 2018. His previous 16 years in the House of Representatives make him the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history.

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