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

Electric Energy Takes Green House Adopters Beyond Better!

The energy is always electric when Green House adopters are together. “As a national initiative, amazing things happen when so many changemakers are in the same room,”  shares Senior Director, Susan Ryan, “The opportunity for rich discussion, relationship building and thoughtful questions is irreplaceable. ”   That was certainly the case as over 250 Green House adopters gathered at The 2016 Green House Annual Meeting—Beyond Better.tshirt-shot_web

visit to Green HillHosted in New Jersey, attendees were able to visit two open Green House homes, Morris Hall Meadows and Green Hill.  Representing 30 states and over 200 open homes, the growing Peer Network is one of the greatest values of participating in this initiative.  Green House stakeholder, John Grace, said, “It was nice to attend an intimate gathering where “practical application” is the theme of the day.”

Pre-Conference workshops provided role specific opportunities to explore areas that research proves are vital to the sustainability and success of the model, such as coaching and empowerment.  Senior executives joined President of Center for Innovation, Inc., the sponsor of The Green House Project,  Scott Townsley, to discuss the strategic trends impacting healthcare, and how The Green House model must continue to evolve in order to lead the way to a better tomorrow.

Marc Middleton, CEO of Growing Bolder, opened the meeting with an inspiring message that what the mind believes, the body embraces, and a call to belimarc-middleton_webeve in the potential of elders!  This multimedia presentation thoroughly dismantled the myths of aging, and set a tone of possibility for the rest of the meeting.

With breakout sessions focused on key operational topics like convivium, spirituality, team building and hiring, adopters left the conference with a full ‘toolbox’ of new skills and ideas to eni-am-green-house_webhance their homes and organizations.  An original spoken word piece, called, “I Am Green House”, brought the crowd to their feet, as a shahbaz, a nurse, a family member and an elder shared what it really means to live this movement everyday.

This year, intensive sessions were offered as opportunities to take a  deep dive in areas of dementia, coaching leadership and bringing Green House values into the legacy home.   Hot topics, real discussion, and an impetus to keep wali_question_webgrowing, resonated throughout the conference. The “Inner Circle” was a unique networking space for attendees to meet their peers and help to co-create the future.  Reciprocity of active learning and shared experience is making a difference and changing the world.

Sustainability is crucial in the work that we do, and a quality benchmarking resource was presented to attendees with a tangible charge to never stop improving.  Exciting results are being discovered as the evidence-base for The Green House model grows.

The conference closed with Ashton Applewhite, anti-ageism advocate and author of This Chair Rocks, an Manifesto Against Ageism, sending a passionate appeal to fight ageism in all its forms.  With humor and personal stories, Ashton served as the perfect way to end the conference feeling challenged and  inspired.

susan-speaking_web“THE POWER OF THE MOVEMENT IS YOU!” says, Susan Ryan, to an empowered audience of Green House adopters.  The national initiative is able to push the envelope of what is possible because of the innovative and excellent work of Green House adopters and those stakeholders who are changing what it means to age.

Next year marks the 10th Annual Green House Meeting.  Held in Florida, with host site, John Knox Village, this meeting continues to grow in meaning and scope, as Green House adopters truly go, Beyond Better!