Saying goodbye is never easy. Saying goodbye to a particularly adventurous soul – one who embodied so much of our vision to lead and inspire a shift in society’s views of elderhood –- is especially difficult. Louis “Lou” DeLucia was a friend, a wise elder, an independent spirit, an advocate, and a shining example of what is unique and beautiful about the Green House model of skilled nursing care.
Lou challenged staff and fellow residents to “think outside the box.” Earlier this year, he came to the table at one of St. John’s community-based Green House homes in Penfield, NY and said, “We should get a dog.” Lou had the insight to see how this pet could enhance their quality of life. Alexandra, or Lexi, as she’s called, moved in on June 24, and has become a cherished companion. Says elder Dorothy Carcelli, first-time dog owner at age 89, “She (Lexi) brings a lot of joy to everybody.”
Lou insisted on going outside every day, even throughout the winter. We worried for him, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. He made friends throughout the adjacent Arbor Ridge community and when they hosted their holiday party, Lou was the elder they invited. After his passing on August 12, they came together to give a gift in his honor. They wrote, “Lou was a good neighbor and friend, and quite a character as well! We in Arbor Ridge will miss his presence and remember him fondly.” This gesture is evidence of the community connections and relationships Lou formed because he had the opportunity to be a part of something beyond the traditional nursing home and took advantage of it each and every day.
Lou reminds us to keep celebrating and keep seeking these non-traditional approaches to meaningful days for our elders.
He has left a valuable legacy.