Green House Blog

Bill Thomas' Second Wind Tour– an inspired look at the future of aging, wellness and growth

Dr. Bill Thomas, internationally recognized expert on aging and founder of The Green House model, is bringing a radical new approach to growth and aging through a national “non-fiction” theatrical tour produced in partnership with AARP’s Life Reimagined, Capital Impact Partners, and more than three dozen sponsor organizations, including THE GREEN HOUSE® Project.

Inspired by Thomas’ new book examining the baby boom generation’s reluctant generational second coming of age—“Second Wind:  Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper and More Connected Life” (named by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the Top 10 Social Science books of 2014)—the Second Wind Tour will bring a unique “non-fiction” theater experience blending the spoken word, innovative set design, film, and music to 25-cities in the spring of 2014.

“The Tour is really a companion to the book’s ‘second wind’ theme in that it challenges the conventional narrative of decline in mid-life and beyond,” Dr. Thomas said. “I want people to see, hear, feel, and connect to the power that arises from finding a ‘second wind’ in life.”Audiences will be taken on a holistic exploration that draws on a deep well of evidence-based approaches to growth, change, aging, health, and wellness. The goal of the tour is to start a new conversation that reframes “life after adulthood” as an exciting stage of human growth and development—a time for challenging received attitudes toward aging.

For more information about the tour and tickets, visit  The Second Wind Tour Website or contact Margaret Stansbury at The Green House Project, mstansbury@capitalimpact.org, 703-647-2311.

 

 

 

 

 

How Far will Your Travels Take you on Valentine’s Day?

When you live in Alaska, you sometimes have to travel a distance to attend a special event.  That’s exactly what five Elders and staff members did last year from The Green House homes in Seward, Alaska.  They drove 90 miles one way to attend the Senior Sweetheart dinner in Soldotna, Alaska.  It was sponsored by the Apostolic Assembly of Jesus Christ.  There was a special table reserved for the group and they were treated to a gourmet meal served by professional waiters.  Guide Patti Foldager explained that the group “wined and dined like Kings and Queens” and they danced the night away to a live performing band.  Everyone, including staff received a special gift bag and two of the Elders won door prizes!  It was a Valentine’s Day to remember! 

This year, they’ll be closer to home because one of The Green House lodges will be the hosting the party. 

Happy Valentine’s Day to all no matter where you spend the day!

The 2015 Senior Games

With the 2014 Sochi Olympics well underway, all the focus is on the young athletes of the world coming together to compete in the XXII Olympic Winter Games. These athletes, who are in peak physical condition and at the top of their game, are rightly celebrated in their home countries for their strength, endurance and good sportsmanship. But they’re not the only ones going for gold! The 2015 National Senior Games are just around the corner!

The National Senior Games are “dedicated to promoting healthy and active lifestyles for athletes age 50 and over,” and will be held in Minnesota, from July 3 – 16. Over 12,000 athletes, age 50 and up, are expected to compete. The heart of the organization’s mission is to promote meaningful life by helping you “Get Fit and Keep Going!” in order to “achieve a healthier body, as well as a healthier mind”

The documentary, Age of Champions, chronicles five athletes who “sprint, leap, and swim for gold at the National Senior Olympics.” Watch the trailer here. This movie sets out to teach the secrets behind healthy aging as well as promoting and inspiring a healthy lifestyle. In line with The Green House model, which “embraces elderhood as an opportunity for continued growth and development,” the Senior Games promotes “[being] healthy, happy, and fit to 100 and beyond, [encourages] seniors in your family to become more active, [staying] positive through an illness or loss of a loved one, [and sharing ideas] about aging, health, and fitness.”

So, as we gather together to cheer on Team USA at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, let us be inspired to compete in 2015. To get involved with the Senior Games in your state, click here. Everyone should go for gold!

Creative Storytelling…A Magic Time for Elders and Staff

For the past 3 years Brittany Swanson has been a Social Worker for four Green House homes – Providence Seward Mountain Haven, in AlaskaBrittany began her journey in Social Work in 2003 at the University of Hawaii, but returned to her home state of Alaska to complete her Bachelors in Social Work.  She has been a licensed Social Worker since 2010, and began working with the Providence Seward Mountain Haven Green House homes in January 2011.  Brittany is quick to express how grateful she is for the opportunity to work in the homes, and believes it has pushed her further in her career than she ever expected!

My first experience with TimeSlips® was during a training provided by the Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska at our Green House home. My co-workers and I were abuzz with excitement as we all met in Raven Lodge to assist the facilitator with the session. Our staff and Elders gathered around the dining table and were warmly welcomed to the storytelling session. We were handed the same black and white image; a bald, chubby baby sitting in an empty brief case.  What ensued was pure magic. The smiles and laughter began immediately as our Elders shared their thoughts and ideas composing their very own story. Every idea was included and there were absolutely no wrong answers. Even a dispute among the Elders was incorporated into the story when asked “What do we want to call him?”

“His name is Harry.”  “No, it’s Bill.” “He looks like a Frank to me!”

Approximately 2 hours later I was begging my supervisor to fund my training to become a certified facilitator so I could bring these storytelling sessions to Seward Mountain Haven on a regular basis. She kindly obliged and I celebrated.

As Green House staff, we are well versed in meaningful life engagement, but the benefits I saw in using TimeSlips were unlike any other activity I have experienced.  As a Green House Social Worker I often find we welcome new Elders to Seward Mountain Haven and discover they feel a lack in their ability to contribute anything of “value” to society. It is not uncommon as we age to sense we have lost our social roles as a lifelong teacher, parent or fisherman for example.  TimeSlips can fill that social role by allowing the Elder to become the storyteller in a safe environment and provide that sense of contribution and value once again. Our Elders are proud of their TimeSlips stories and revel in pride as we read them in their entirety.  

Anyone can become a certified facilitator for the TimeSlips method by completing an online course which teaches the history and development of the program, as well as how to implement it with Elders in varying stages of dementia. Once you complete your course, you can practice TimeSlips with your Elders and submit your completed stories to a Certified Master Trainer for review. A time is then set to complete an assessment interview to verify you understand the method and are confident in its implementation. Then you are good to go! TimeSlips works best with Elders who are in the mid to late stages of dementia, as these stages allow for the creation of an environment of open creativity. Elders who are in the early stages of dementia may become hung up on the “facts” and feel silly about making up a story they don’t know.

One of our goals at Seward Mountain Haven is to educate our community on dementia and continue to break down stereotypes and stigmas associated with nursing homes. In effort to do so, we created beautiful poster-size TimeSlips to display at the annual Seward Music and Arts Festival. The community was able to enjoy reading our Elder’s stories which sparked interest in other organizations to learn about the method and the benefits of the program’s implementation. In the near future, we hope to begin intergenerational projects between our Elders and local elementary school students using the TimeSlips method. We intend to make TimeSlips a regularly scheduled event at Seward Mountain Haven, so come join us anytime!

The Eden Alternative CEO, Chris Perna, Honored by Provider Magazine

Congratulations are in order for The Eden Alternative Chief Executive Officer, Chris Perna.  Provider Magazine has selected Chris as one of  “20 to Watch” – the rising stars in long term and post-acute care.

As many of you know The Ten Principles of The Eden Alternative are the foundation of THE GREEN HOUSE® Project, created by Dr. Bill Thomas and his wife, Judith Meyers-Thomas.

For the past three years, Chris has led the charge behind the new initiatives for the organization.  He has a rich background in the industry, and talks about how The Eden Alternative and The Green House model influfenced decisions he made prior to becoming the CEO.

Read the full story here.

Congratulations to Green Hill in West Orange, NJ, and their President/Executive Director Toni Lynn Davis!

It’s always nice to be recognized for outstanding work and this month Green Hill learned that two different organizations are taking note of the good work being done at their community.

Earlier this month Green Hill Inc., a Senior Living Community, and the home of the first Green House homes in New Jersey was presented with a SeniorAdvisor Excellence Award for receiving consistently high ratings from Elders and families in 2013.

SeniorAdvisor.com is a consumer reviews web site created by A Place for Mom, the nation’s largest senior living referral service.  The award identified the top senior living communities who have received an overall average rating of at least 4.5 stars on the site.  Green Hill and other recipients were recognized for having the best customer ratings and reviews out of more than 100,000 senior care providers currently on Senior Advisor.com.

Click here to read more about the Excellence Award.

In addition to the recognition by SeniorAdvisor.com, it was announced that President-Executive Director of Green Hill, Toni Lynn Davis, will be the recipient of the NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business awards. 

It is a program that honors New Jersey’s most dynamic women in business that have been making headlines in their field.  Toni is a member of the Green House Peer Network Steering Committee and has been a strong supporter of the national initiative!

Click here to read more about the special event to take place in late March.

We’ll have more to share after the event, and we’ll keep you posted on a special PBS show to be produced later this Spring that will include Toni and the accomplishments of Green Hill organization. Congratulations to Toni and the entire team at Green Hill!

Senate Bill 1562: Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2014

Keeping track of what is happening in Congress is no easy task- but here is some news that will interest all of us because it affects elders across the country. Last September, Senator Bernard (“Bernie”) Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965 and funding for its programs for FY2014-FY2018.

The Older Americans Act established the United States Administration on Aging (AoA) as well as state aging agencies that provide a comprehensive network of community based services for older adults that allow them to live meaningful lives in their homes and communities.  The Act is comprised of seven titles that are primarily funded by the AoA except for Title V, a senior employment opportunity program, funded by the Department of Labor. Included in the OAA is the long-term care ombudsman program, nutrition services, grants for Native Americans, support services for caregivers, employment opportunities for older adults, elder abuse prevention programs and transportation assistance.

If you’d like to learn more about the Older Americans Act and the bill to reauthorize it please visit:

The National Council on Aging

AARP Policy Institute

National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities