Green House Blog

Ashton Applewhite on Aging & Ageism

Given how the events of past 10 months have affected older adults, my colleague, Marla DeVries, and I looked at how ageism has played a role in why COVID-19 has had such a devastating impact on those who live in nursing homes.

A recent interview on the Elevate Eldercare podcast offers an important perspective on this tragic phenomenon. For the Christmas week episode, Green House Senior Director Susan Ryan sat down with Ashton Applewhite, an author and activist in the anti-ageism movement. In 2016, Ashton self–published This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. The book has since been picked up by a publisher and sold worldwide. It has since been named one of “The Top 100 Best Books to Read at Every Age,” by the Washington Post and one of the “10 Books to Help You Foster a More Diverse and Inclusive Workplace,” by Forbes.

Among other things, Susan and Ashton examine how the longstanding practice of warehousing elders away in institutional, medicalized settings helped the novel coronavirus spread like wildfire among residents.

Ageism Exposed

Ashton’s impact on the anti-ageist movement is unparalleled. In addition to her book, she has done a TED Talk, spoken at numerous conferences (including our own in 2016), guest-starred in dozens of podcasts, and quoted in many media stories on the topic. When Marla and I recorded our recap episode, we were surprised that a manifesto is needed to combat negative stereotypes that have the potential to affect nearly the entirety of society. What’s more, I would agree with Ashton that aging is the most fascinating field there is, because if there is one thing all of humanity has in common it’s that we are all getting older each and every day.

In her discussion with Susan, Ashton notes that while the pandemic has not made ageism worse, it has exposed what’s been there all along. In fact, ageism is a “prejudice against our future selves,” as Ashton says in her 2017 TED Talk, which has been watched more than 1.6 million times.

Attitude Is Everything

In the podcast episode, Susan and Ashton talked about lifespan versus health span and how our attitudes toward aging affect how our minds and bodies function at the cellular level. When it comes to aging, she wants people to be fact-based rather than fear-based, because when we do that, we’re more likely to recover completely from severe illnesses and disabilities.

In other words, the goal needs to be about health, not about youth. And that health, as she said, is not binary. It’s really on a spectrum.

Get On Board

So how does one go about tackling ageism, you wonder? Well, there is a resource for it that Ashton helped to create. It’s a website called Old School, and it serves as a clearinghouse of “free and carefully vetted resources to educate people about ageism and how to help dismantle it.” The site includes blogs, books, articles, videos, and speaker information.

For more insight about Ashton and what she’s doing now, take a listen to her podcast episode below:

On Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ashton-applewhite-ageism-covid-19-grassroots-opportunities/id1524700411?i=1000503852177  

On Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6PnDdu7UKmlKe2XG4PXR5z?si=c-oE8VP1Tp2ddlmqGJHV6Q

On Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/elevate-eldercare/episode/ashton-applewhite-ageism-covid-19-and-grassroots-opportunities-80478859

Living with Early-Onset Dementia: A Story of Courage & Hope

After a career in telecommunications as well as serving as a member of the Rhode Island National Guard for over a decade, Mike Belleville was diagnosed with early onset dementia, at the age of 52. Although the news was devastating to Mike,  he has not let it define him.

Watercolor by M. Belleville
Mike Belleville has discovered a talent and love for watercolors since his diagnosis of dementia.

Since his diagnosis some seven years ago, Mike has become a strident advocate for people living with dementia. He speaks around the country in support of research and better understanding of the disease and he serves on several boards, including the Dementia Action Alliance

I first met Mike when he gave a keynote speech at our 2018 annual conference, and I have had the great pleasure of getting to know him more since then. So, when I had the opportunity to record a recap of our latest episode for Elevate Eldercare with my colleague Marla DeVries, I was delighted to get an update on his life.

True to form, Mike, who was joined by his wife Cheryl for the episode, offered his unfettered opinion about the importance of dispelling myths about people living with dementia and how the diagnosis has affected his life recently.

The Myths of Dementia

As Marla and I dive into the very compelling conversation the two had with Senior Director Susan Ryan, we have fun going a little deeper into something Mike calls the Four Myths of Dementia. And as he seeks to debunks many misperceptions about dementia, Mike himself is an example of someone who defies them: since his diagnosis he has become a very talented artist, chef, and public speaker.

In addition to the exploring the power of family and relationships, the couple explain how they found hope and tangible solutions on their journey. They also examine the need for caregiver support and respite, as well as the impact of the pandemic on routines, normalcy, and vital human connections.

We also take a look at a scene in one of his favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption, from which he draws inspiration and motivation for living well with dementia.

There is so much more about Mike to learn, just as there is about dementia. Get to know him better on our latest podcast episode below:

Avoidable: David Grabowski’s Take on the Pandemic’s Impact on Nursing Homes

COVID-19 has had such an impact on so many lives over the past several months that when you hear a well-respected researcher in long-term care say the impact could have been significantly reduced in nursing homes or AVOIDABLE…it makes you lean into the conversation and hear how he backs up that statement. And Dr. David Grabowski does back it up!

His insights and observations are part of the latest Elevate Eldercare episode. Marla and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him and doing our recap podcast.

While I’ve only met David Grabowski once when he was doing research on the Green House model in 2013, he was so down to earth. But his current position as a professor of health care policy at the Harvard Medical School is impressive. He has dedicated his career to shaping policy and making a difference in the lives of elders. And what I really admire about him is that he’s not afraid to share his very candid and data-based opinions with those in governmental agencies that could implement change for the good.

“So, the reason avoidable was my word is that it didn’t have to be this way. And we know with greater preparation, with greater infection control, with testing, with personal protect equipment, with investment in direct caregivers, we could have really mitigated the spread of COVID in long term care facilities broadly, and nursing homes specifically,” he said “If we had made the investments early in this country to really put resources and attention into nursing homes, we could have avoided this huge outbreak.”

Dr. Grabowski was one of 25 people on the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. The results of that commission should be announced this month, and it will be interesting to see if the innovative suggestions he offers in the podcast are included in new policies or regulations.

You will be intrigued by the research he uncovered during this pandemic. Are you someone that thinks a 5-star rating automatically means fewer COVID cases?  That’s what Dr. Grabowski alluded to in his hypothesis. He said you would assume those homes with prior infection control problems, or low-quality care numbers would be where COVID hit – but that wasn’t the case. It didn’t matter if a nursing home was a one-star or five-star organization OR if there was a high Medicaid census. Tune into the podcast to find out what the determining factor really is when it comes to COVID.

And I really appreciate a researcher that readily admits when he regrets an earlier statement on an issue. Dr. Grabowski initially thought isolation for all elders was a good idea. Since those early months during the pandemic, he has come full circle on that issue. He says it’s not only COVID that kills, it’s isolation! AND he is very concerned about the exhaustion level for direct caregivers fearing that nursing homes will lose “the best of the best”.

Dr. Grabowski has so many unique nuggets of information in this podcast, I encourage you to listen to the original episode and then see what you think about the highlights that Marla and I share with you!


 

Disparties, Racism & Ageism Amid COIVD-19

The Elevate Eldercare podcast this week is most timely given the headlines concerning protests about social injustice in Wisconsin. Susan Ryan, Green House Senior Director, interviewed Karyne Jones, the president & CEO of the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging (NCBA). It was amazing the wide variety of topics they covered – everything from COVID-19 and the health disparities that exist among people of color to the devastating impact of social isolation, our shared humanity, and implicit bias.

For those of you are not familiar with NCBA they are the preeminent national organization on issues impacting African Americans age 50 & over. They have three areas of focus: employment, health and wellness and housing. I was struck by Karyne’s description of their mission to provide affordable housing and their philosophy with health and wellness. Many of their concepts match the work we do at The Green House Project. We want Green House homes to be available to all regardless of their ability to pay. We believe elders should direct the life they live in the home and the importance of their voice at the table. In fact, NCBA was established 50 years ago as a result of leaders from a few African American nursing homes who wanted the voice of black communities included in the creation of the Older Americans Act. President Nixon agreed and their successful participation in that work made them decide they should form an organization to address all kinds of issues that affect older African Americans and older poor people who want to improve their life – thus, NCBA was formed.

And while none of us like the pandemic, for Karyne and their organization it has shined a light on the health disparities for those in poor, racial communities. In terms of the issues around police brutality she explained that racism, – and classism are things they have dealt with over the years. The good thing now, she explained, is that people are asking NCBA for ideas, on how can they address the problems – and she said, “we welcomed that”.

Both Marla and I teach a class that discusses how important self-awareness and self-management are to each person. What are the biases we might have? What judgements do we hold? So, it wasn’t a surprise to me that Marla took at special interest in the discussion of implicit bias. It’s not a term we all use, and the information is good to have during these times, especially if you are looking to learn more about yourself. Marla shared information on a unique graph by a doctor entitled “Becoming Anti-Racist”.  Take a look at the graph and assess yourself. Be honest and take this opportunity to grow!

Karyne also talked about our need to help others and stated, “It’s our humanity to make sure that we help people”. To me that is such a beautiful phrase. What better feeling can you possibly have than when you offer your assistance to someone who could use your skills or talents – it’s such a wonderful gift. When you have one community suffering, she went on to say, it drains another community. There’s an opportunity for us to shift from being independent to understanding our interdependence of one another. Some might consider that a real paradigm shift for our humanity, to embrace compassion, to be empathic and support other people, I believe we are capable. I feel Shahbazim in a Green House home do it every day. They give to the elders and the elders give back. There is such a wonderful “interdependence” in the home.

One final word about NCBA – they have one awesome newsletter. Seriously, it is filled with such good information, it’s worth taking a look at it. Hope you’ll listen to both podcasts, Elevate Eldercare with Susan and Karyne Jones and Let Me Say This About That with Marla and me. Enjoy learning and growing!

Dementia-ism, Grace, and the Value of the Outdoors

In our Friday recap of this podcast, “Let Me Say This About That,” Marla and I take a wonderful journey to further explore what Dr. Wright would like to accomplish. We discuss how he will use his voice and why we see his 25 years of experience as a way to help pave the path toward a better lifestyle for all elders.

A tragic and overwhelming loss of more than two dozen elders at a nursing home in Virginia due to COVID-19 propelled its medical director to use his voice to educate the media—and to crystalize his goals for a unique community designed for elders living with dementia. Dr. James Wright is that medical director. I believe you’ll be impressed by his passion and determination to set the record straight and his candid explanation that we live in “a society that feels that they can ignore their elders, warehouse their elders, especially those that are poor, especially those that have dementia.” Strong words, but he is ready to be the advocate that uses a devasting situation to significantly enhance the life of elders, especially those living with dementia. COVID-19 for Dr. Wright was a back-handed gift to provide that sense of urgency for him.

He has three distinct principles that guide his vision, and some may surprise you. Why would outdoors be on the list? And why might he suggest that federal/state surveyors, often the group of people who only seek out what is not being done correctly, be the group that should become mentors and guides to support the staff at nursing homes? Can you imagine welcoming surveyors to your community instead of being concerned about their arrival? Oh…and what about community integration at a community for people living with dementia? We are not talking about just childcare on campus, or a café, but what about a brewery and lots and lots of open acreage? Not what most would envision when thinking about a community to support the growth and care of elders…especially those with dementia. However, you might find yourself asking “Why not?” They are all part of Dr. Wright’s vision for the future.

In addition to exploring the meaning of grace, Marla and I delve into the devaluation of elders living with dementia. Dr. Wright, who also has a degree in theology (a nice combination for a medical doctor wouldn’t you say?), took time to explain how society values youth and power and undervalues the poor, the dependent, and those with dementia.  

As we examine the stigma of dementia, we discuss what Dr. Wright calls the last acceptable form of prejudice: “dement-ism.” 

So, grab some coffee or tea and take a listen to both podcasts. Episode 3 is the interview with Dr. Wright and episode 4 is the “Let Me Say This About That” recap that offers insights from Marla and me. I believe you will find it enlightening.

>>Listen HERE on Apple Podcast

>>Listen HERE on Spotify

>>Listen HERE on Stitcher

Resthaven Breaks Ground for Second Green House Home

“The Green House helps give us tangible ways to live out our mission in the way we give care” – Deedre Vriesman, Resthaven CEO.

On June 25, Resthaven team members celebrated the groundbreaking of their second Green House home, officially kicking off development of the Janssen Cottage.  In 2007 the Boersma Cottage opened at Resthaven for 10 elders.

 

 

The ceremony included a special thank you to the Resthaven Board of Directors, the Janssen family, all the donors, GMB Architecture & Engineering, CL Construction and the Holland community who are making this home a reality.

Congratulations to all!








Picture Perfect Day in Longmont, Colorado to Break Ground for Four Green House Homes

Hover Senior Living Community will soon be the site of Green House homes for 48 elders.  In late May, the weather cooperated in providing a beautiful backdrop for the groundbreaking ceremony.

The planning for these homes began five years ago and Hover President, Lisa Czolowski credited the community‘s volunteer board of directors for their dedication, saying, “This project couldn’t have happened without them — it‘s really a labor of love.”

The homes will officially be called The Katherine and Charles Hover Green House Neighborhood Homes.

The first elders are expected to move in by early Spring 2019 and all four homes should be completed by the end of Summer 2019.  With the addition of the Green House homes, Hover will be considered a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) or Life Planned Community.  The Hover campus includes nearly 119 apartments and 51 assisted living suites

Plans and architectural drawings call for the homes to be built in the Tudor architectural style of the surrounding structures.

Once complete, the new portion of the Hover Senior Living Facility would be the third Colorado Green House partner to adopt the model. The first two locations are in Mirasol Green House Homes in Loveland and Washington County Nursing Homes in Akron.

We wish the Hover team much success in the development of their homes!

Read more about this story in ConsumerEagle.com








Groundbreaking Ceremony for Two Green House Homes in Lima, Ohio Culminates Years of Planning by Board Members

In recent years the board of trustees for the Lima Convalescent Home has been working hard to create more private rooms for their elders.  On April 6th that vision became a reality as they broke ground for two Green House homes that will provide beautiful homes with private bedrooms for 24 Elders AND will ultimately mean more private rooms in their existing nursing home.

The new homes will be called “The Greens at Lima Convalescent Home” and will be part of their established community.  The project is estimated to cost over $1 million and is slated to open by Spring of 2019.  Board members made their decision to move ahead with the Green House model after seeing the Green House homes in Bluffton, Ohio.

“It truly is a vision for how care can be provided in this community in wonderful ways,” said Lima Mayor David Berger. “This kind of leadership in our community is what made Lima Convalescent what it is today.”

 

Green House Senior Director, Susan Ryan, explained to those at the event that The Green House Project is a movement that de-institutionalizes, destigmatizes and provides care to elders to help them live meaningful lives.

“They will be known for who they are and not just their diagnosis and they will be able to live life and not just be defined by their care needs,” said Ryan. “Hold fast to your visions and values that have guided your journey so far. I can tell you that a year from now I will come back and I will see beautiful homes where I see grass today and I can assure you that the best is yet to come.”

 

Lima Convalescent Home was the first nursing home in Lima when it opened in 1958 and is the only one that is a non-profit.  The Executive Director for the Lima Convalescent Home is Joy Reichenbach.

Click here to read more about this story from LimaOhio.com








Lima Groundbreaking Ceremony Brings Back Fond Memories of a Father Who Participated in The First Groundbreaking 60 Years Ago

“He was a very powerful influence in my life”, that’s how Betsy Winget remembers her father, Glen Webb.   He was on the first board of directors when the decision was made that Lima needed to build a nursing home for their community.  In 1956, he was part of the original groundbreaking ceremony that was captured in this black and white photo that now is proudly displayed in the hallway at the Lima Convalescent Home.

Betsy was honored to attend the ceremony and said, “It choked me up to be there”.  Betsy explained that both her father and mother felt strongly about giving back to the community and were very active in several initiatives over the years to support Lima.  Her father was a member of the Lima Memorial hospital board and would work hard for the school levies.  “If there was something to be done, there was my Dad”.

Betsy’s father ultimately became a resident at Lima Convalescent before he passed, and ironically the Lima Convalescent Home even played a role in Betsy’s career.  When she was about 25 years old she was looking for a different job and met the administrator at the Lima Convalescent Home who wanted to hire her.  “Never in a million years did I think I would be working with elders” explained Betsy.

Betsy Winget

However, working with elders has indeed been her career and she is currently the Executive Director of Senior Citizens Services, Inc. where they are passionate about keeping elders healthy and active.

When Betsy first heard about the development of Green House homes in Lima, she decided to check it out first hand and traveled to Bluffton for a visit.  “I think they are awesome” and a great new option for elders in our area.

We applaud the work of Betsy’s parents over a half century ago and applaud the continued community work Betsy continues to do in Lima!








Goshen, Indiana Celebrates the Grand Opening of Their New Green House Homes!

January 24th marked the official grand opening of The Green House Village of Goshen—three Green House homes with a fourth already slated for the community.

Two of the homes will be skilled nursing, with the third home dedicated to short-term rehabilitation.

 

The homes were developed by Blue Diamond Communities, an organization that prides itself on building homes to serve all ages.

Tonya Detweiler, President, Blue Diamond Communities

Tonya Detweiler is the president of the company—which she founded five years ago.  The Green House homes are part of Maplewood Estates and perfectly blend into the community.  Tonya says building the homes was really a dream for the organization for a number of years because seldom do people WANT to move to a nursing home, however she believes The Green House Village of Goshen will change that image for many people in Indiana.

 

 

The subdivision is 16 acres and in addition to the Green House homes, there will be 25 other private homes in the development.  It’s a wonderful setting for the 48 elders who will live in the Green House homes, they will be part of an inter-generational neighborhood and a vibrant part of the community.








2017: A Record Breaking Year of Growth for The Green House!

Last year was a record breaking year for The Green House Project and it appears 2018 will continue that momentum!  41 homes were opened in nine states of which two were “first in state” openings!  Such an impressive year for our Green House partners—we look forward to continuing that momentum in 2018!  Right now, more than 20 Green House homes are slated to open next year and groundbreaking ceremonies are anticipated at seven organizations for a total of roughly 30 more Green House homes.

Here’s a quick look at how 2018 is shaping up for grand openings and groundbreaking ceremonies:

Grand Openings:

Green House Village of Goshen

Goshen, IN

Goshen, IN

3 homes

January

 

 

Ave Maria

Bartlett, TN

Bartlett, TN

5 homes

March/April

 

 

Poplar Grove

Little Rock, AR

Little Rock, AR

10 homes

July

 

 

West Vue

West Plains, MO

West Plains, MO

3 homes

Fall

 

 

 

Groundbreaking:

Lima, OH

Lima Home

Lima, OH

2 homes

 

Hover Community

Longmont, CO

Longmont, CO

4 homes

 

 

 

 

Sun Porch

Topeka, KS

Topeka, KS

2 homes – phase one/2 homes phase 2

 

 

 

Belle Meade

Paragould, AR

Paragould, AR

2 homes

 

 

 

Wyoming Department of Health

Lander, WY

Lander, WY

10 homes

 

 

 

 

Mustard Seed

Vaughn, WA

Vaughn, WA

3 homes

 

 

 

 

Solutions Healthcare

Las Vegas, NV

6 homes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








A Unique Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Development of Three Green House Homes in Missouri

In the spirit of honoring the past, officials from the West Vue Nursing Home broke ground for their new Green House homes the same way it happened over half a century ago–with mules and a plow!

August 3, 2017 was a bright and sunny day to officially launch the construction of three 10-bedroom Green House homes.  In fact construction equipment was ready to begin their work once the event had concluded!

Located in West Plains, Missouri, the West Vue Nursing Home has been dedicated to providing care to elders in their rural community since the mid 1960’s and has earned a stellar reputation in the area.

In addition to Green House staff on hand for the event, GHN Architects and Engineers President Brad Baker expressed his eagerness to be part of the the project and his deep support for the Green House model, and his hope that more will be built.

 

The decision to build the homes was made with careful thought and consideration by the board of directors and leadership at West Vue.  President and CEO, Jalynn Meidell said that when she heard about the model, she knew she wanted West Vue to be part of it.

The homes are slated to open later next year. Congratulations to all involved in the development of this project!