More than 400 of The New Jewish Home’s friends, care partners, colleagues and supporters joined them on Friday, October 2nd at the AXA Auditorium in Manhattan as they hosted featured speaker, Dr. Atul Gawande. Author of the best-selling book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Dr. Gawande led the audience through the challenges we all face when making end-of-life choices for our loved ones and ourselves. He spent some of his presentation highlighting the work of Dr. Bill Thomas and THE GREEN HOUSE (R) Project by sharing how the model is transforming long-term care and allowing elders to define what a good day means for them. Dr. Gawande applauded The New Jewish Home’s initiative in creating the Living Center of Manhattan, which will be the first 20 story Green House in a major metropolitan area, and for already opening 3 small houses based on The Green House model in their Westchester nursing home, the Sarah Neuman Center. Dr. Gawande cited these as true examples of positive transformation in eldercare.
After his remarks, Dr. Gawande was joined on stage by The New Jewish Home’s CEO, Dr. Audrey Weiner, to engage in further dialogue on how we in America can do the best job possible caring for our elders. The conversation was made possible and paid in full by a generous grant from the Himan Brown Charitable Trust, and the symposium is part of Jewish Home’s ongoing ongoing mission to change the way people think about and talk about eldercare.
The takeaway? Talking about death and dying is actually a conversation about life, and we should be having it with our loved ones sooner than we think.
During an interview with the Diane Rehm Show on NPR this week, Dr. Gawande asked listeners to strive for more than simply “a good death.” Instead, he says we must ask ourselves what brings the most meaning and purpose to our lives and fill our days with those things, to the best of our ability, until we die. During the interview, Dr. Gawande mentions The Green House Project as an organization that is working tirelessly to expand a model of autonomy, growth, and purposeful living to individuals at the end of their lives. The full interview transcript is here, in addition to the audio recording.
At an appearance in Washington, D.C. last night, Dr. Gawande spoke to a crowd of over two hundred people about the innovative approach of The Green House model in skilled nursing care. In Chapter 5 of his new book he writes that Green House homes are “…designed to pursue that idea that a life worth living can be created…by focusing on food, homemaking, and befriending others.”
The loneliness, helplessness and boredom so often experienced by those living out the end of their lives in long-term care institutions should not be the norm in this country. We need innovative approaches, like The Green House model, which are built on the belief that every person, up until their last breath, should have the freedom to feel empowered and engaged in their life.