Green House Blog

Watch My TEDx Talk – Elderhood Rising: The Dawn of a New World Age

My TEDx talk “Elderhood Rising: The Dawn of a New World Age” has been posted to YouTube and I’m excited to share it with the ChangingAging Blogstream. Thank you to everyone in the ChangingAging community who provided comments and suggestions to help me prepare my TEDx talk.  You can help now by sharing this video with your friends and network and spreading the message that there is life after adulthood, that it is rich, it is real, it is deep, it is ancient and it is meaningful.

It is called elderhood and I am honored to act as its ambassador to remind us that we are all Elders in the making.

Dr. William Thomas TEDx San Francisco

Webinar: GH Overview March 6, 2012

The Green House Model Overview Webinar will target audiences seeking both basic and advanced information about the model, financial and operational outcomes, current research, and how to join The Green House Project. Primary audiences sought will be leadership staff of long term care provider organizations (non-profit and for profit), leaders and staff of other healthcare aging services organizations, consumers, advocates, and healthcare professionals. The Overview Webinar will give opportunities for questions and discussion.

•Review the fundamentals of the 3-part transformation from traditional skilled nursing services to The Green House model.
•Explore results from 3 research studies into the model’s effectiveness and viability.
•Discuss the process and potential next steps for assessing the “fit” of The Green House model as an option for your community.
•Review and Discuss Audience Questions regarding The Green House Model.

Time: 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST

Location: Web address and log-in details will be sent by email a week prior to the scheduled session.

Cost: The Webinar registration fee is $95.

Dr. Bill Thomas San Francisco Chronicle OpEd: Learn to value life in elderhood

Dr. Bill Thomas will be speaking June 4 at the San Francisco TEDxSF Alive! Maximum Living as a Human event. This Op-Ed was published June 3 in the San Francisco Chronicle Opinion section:

Dr. Bill Thomas
Dr. Bill Thomas

I am a rare breed of physician who specializes in the care of older people – a geriatrician. More than 30,000 geriatricians are needed to care for America’s coming age boom. But shockingly, there are fewer than 6,000 and the number is dropping. The reason for this enormous shortage can be explained with a single word: ageism.

We inhabit a culture that worships youth with near religious zeal. And youth – or more accurately, our obsession with achieving an everlastingly youthful adulthood – is sucking the life out of us.

How can geriatrics compete with skyrocketing plastic surgery and a billion-dollar anti-aging industry that thrives from our obsessive search for the fountain of youth? The harsh reality is we will never attract enough doctors to geriatrics until we fix a major design flaw in the human condition. Contrary to anti-aging gurus, that flaw is not the biology of aging – it is the way our culture views the structure of the life cycle.

Read more:

Watch Dr. Bill Thomas TEDx Talk Live Online!

The Green House Project founder Dr. Bill Thomas makes his TEDx debut Saturday, June 4, and you can watch it live via streaming video from the TEDxSF Alive! Maximum Living as a Human event in San Francisco.

Live streaming video will begin noon PST and you can join in at or Also be sure to check for our live-blogging coverage from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

San Francisco’s TEDx conference is an independent offshoot of the highly influential TED (Technology, Education and Design) conferences that feature speakers on the most cutting-edge and innovative ideas of the day.

This is an exciting opportunity for Dr. Thomas to introduce his startling but common-sense pro-aging vision with the general public. As a world-renowned authority on geriatric medicine and eldercare and a visionary leader in the movement to change the way society views aging, Bill will introduce the audience to the hidden virtues of elderhood, an intrinsic part of the human lifecycle that has nearly been erased from the cultural map.

Please help get the word out and share the links to the TEDxSF livestream video above! You can also share Bill’s ChangingAging video series exploring ideas for his TED talk:

Porter Hills Speaks at Washington Conference on Direct-Care Workforce

Cheryl VanBemDen and Darlene Scott

The Porter Hills team takes Washington by storm!

Cheryl VanBemDen (left) and Darlene Scott (right), a Guide and Shahbaz at the Porter Hills Green House Homes in Grand Rapids, MI, just finished presenting at the national convention for the direct-care workforce “Building Ladders and Raising the Floor.” Cheryl and Darlene spoke of the transformation they’ve experienced in their work and personal lives and the impact its had on the elders they care for at the Porter Hills Green House. They fielded numerous questions from a high-powered audience of U.S. Senators, federal officials, foundations, advocates, researchers, policy leaders and providers.

The meeting’s goal was to highlight innovations in practice and policy in long-term care. Cheryl and Darlene were asked to present on The Green House model on a panel titled “The Best of the Best Practices.” The Green House could not have been better represented to live up to the title!

In addition to their testimony, it was exciting to see “Shahbaz” and “Guide” among the job titles on the impressive participants’ list. Please join me in thanking them for representing The Green House Project so well and spreading the word about great jobs and meaningful lives.

Posted by Robert Jenkens (proud partner of Porter Hills)

NCB Capital Impact


Dr. Al Power: Time to Drop the Gloves…

From the ChangingAging Blogstream:

When I started speaking in support of my new book (rather timidly at first), I was surprised at how much my audiences embraced my ideas. Frankly, I was expecting a lot more resistance. It has struck me that I am addressing very caring groups of people who are struggling and looking for a better way to help people living with dementia. But I have always been waiting for “the other shoe to drop.”

Clearly there is a larger, colder world than those my travels have brought me to. This has been made clear in the past few weeks with several items in the mainstream media. In spite of all the positive feedback I’ve received over the past year, it is clear just how much more resistance we need to overcome in changing the experience of dementia.

Exhibit A: NPR reported that HHS Inspector General Dr. Daniel Levinson has found a potentially dangerous overuse of antipsychotics in nursing homes. As a result, Tufts University psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat launched a diatribe on CNN’s website ”In Defense of Antipsychotics,” which my friend Kim McRae forwarded to me with an impassioned request that I respond.

In that column, Dr. Carlat advocated strongly for antipsychotics as the “most effective medications” for distress, and linked most agitation in dementia to “psychosis”. One of his examples of psychosis was a gentleman with dementia who awoke in his nursing home room, became confused about where he was and thought his deceased wife was calling him from the next room, causing him to pull out an IV in his arm. A man with memory loss, in an institutional setting with IV therapy becoming confused and anxious–psychosis? Really? No less an expert than Dr. Jiska Cohen-Mansfield has written that it is time to abandon the term “psychosis” in describing the misinterpretations of dementia, because they are very different things. Do psychiatrists still not realize this?

The column is accompanied by a host of supportive and sometimes cruel reader comments about the need to drug people with dementia.

Exhibit B: I blogged on May 22nd in support of an op-ed in a recent Sunday New York Times calledOur Irrational Fear of Forgetting.” Looking at this Sunday’s follow-up paper, there was a huge reader outcry from lay and professional readers alike, attacking her “irresponsible” editorial and ironically demonstrating that very fear, as they put people with Alzheimer’s squarely in a box: stigmatized, de-humanized and very different from us “normal” people. One reader described his late grandmother as “animalistic”, another her family member as “comatose”. A neurologist called Anne Basting’s Forget Memory approach “amusing”, but ultimately worthless.

Needless to say, I posted comments on the first two sites and have sent a letter to the Times as well. It is time for advocates of a humanized approach to caring with and for people with forgetfulness of all kinds to speak up against this societal prejudice that is depriving millions of people of a life worth living. The folks who have shown the way to a new kind of care need to share their messages of hope with this very cynical, (read “frightened”) world.

In a bit of synchronicity, a spam comment sent to me for moderation today led me to an old post in which Irene Zola quoted Norman Cousins (in Anatomy of an Illness) who wrote, “Death is not the ultimate tragedy of life. The ultimate tragedy is depersonalization – dying (or living) in an alien and sterile area, separated from the spiritual nourishment that comes from being able to reach out to a loving hand, separated from a desire to experience things that make life worth living, separated from hope.”

Tell the media how you feel, and encourage them to tell your stories.

Finally, suggest that the media speak to the real experts in the field of dementia–those who live with the diagnosis and have much wisdom to share with the rest of us. This group is totally absent in all the media discourse. Learn about the Stand Up Speak Out campaign panned for Dementia Awareness Month.

It’s time to take this to the streets, folks.

G. Allen Power, MD is Eden Mentor at St. John’s Home in Rochester, NY, and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester and author of Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of Care. Follow Dr. Power on Allen Power’s Blog.

Living The Green House Brand

What does it mean to live The Green House Project brand? What differentiates us and creates a culture that is unique to our community?

Dr. Thomas says that the difference is that in The Green House Project, love matters. So how does that play out? There are many stories of the deep knowing and relationships that transform an ordinary place into a home where people live, work and thrive while receiving the care that they need.

For example, Sharla Lee in San Angelo Texas spent her life as a caregiver and housewife — she yearned to give. In response, the team in the home created a training to certify her as an elder-shahbaz, with duties and responsibilities to run the home. By creating environments that are empowered to meet the needs of those who live and work there, where people have the autonomy and choice to be their best self, a REAL HOME is created. These are all ways that we walk the walk, talk the talk, and live the brand everyday.

Elder with Shahbaz

The Green House Project team has the opportunity to share what it means to be part of The Green House Project brand with our organization, NCB Capital Impact, and we need your help. Please share your thoughts of a tagline, a story, a motto or any other thoughts of how we can really highlight our brand.