Living on her own terms; Homeshare Vermont helps Brandon woman stay in her home


THELMA MINER (LEFT), a longtime Brandon resident, enjoys a safer life at home thanks in part to her homeshare housemate, Anna Hardt. Photo by Karen Pike

BRANDON — Years ago, Thelma Miner, who is now a feisty 91-year-old, made her daughter Marie Perry promise that she would remain in her Brandon home for as long as possible. A nursing facility was off the table. But when Thelma began suffering memory loss, Marie knew it would take a team to fulfill that promise, especially with her living more than an hour away. 

Four days a week, home health aides come in to make sure Thelma exercises and eats her lunch.

Thelma’s son and daughter-in-law live next door so they can regularly check-in and watch out for any deviation from Thelma’s daily routines. But they aren’t in Thelma’s house at night, so Marie turned to HomeShare Vermont in order for the  family to achieve some peace of mind. 

“We’ve surrounded mom with enough helpers now that I don’t feel so stressed being up in South Burlington because they can let me know if there’s something wrong. We’re all communicating with each other in order to keep Mom’s quality of life the best that it can be,” Marie said. 

When Anna Hardt interviewed with HomeShare Vermont, it was clear right away what a compassionate and warm companion she would be. Anna, a 23-year-old licensed nursing assistant and med tech, moved into Thelma’s upstairs living space that Marie renovated specifically so Thelma could homeshare. Anna, a self-described homebody, feels the match is perfect because Thelma is also quiet but with a spunky flair, and Thelma’s family has been extremely supportive and generous.  

In return for a private living area and an affordable rent, each morning Anna makes sure Thelma has her hearing aids, eats breakfast, and is safe. Anna also provides a safety presence at night when she returns home from work. She usually does a cooking project with Thelma once a week and likes to work on knitting projects while she visits with her. They always sit on the sun porch and “watch the world go by,” as Thelma says. 

Since Thelma’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren cannot visit due to COVID-19, Anna’s companionship is especially important to the family.

“For me, that was a big load off my shoulders because someone else would be in the house. It has been a Godsend for me to have a companion in the house for my mother even though she will tell you she is pretty independent. But at times when Mom’s needed something, Anna has been there,” Marie said.

For more information on how HomeShare Vermont’s comprehensive screening and matching process can help you or a family member, visit www.HomeShareVermont.org or call (802) 863-5625. HomeShare Vermont serves seven counties in Vermont and is a funded agency of the United Way of Northwest Vermont.

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Addison County Independent