Green House Blog

Bill Thomas, Aging is “Life’s Most Dangerous Game”

IMG_0076In his Age of Disruption Tour, Dr. Bill Thomas promises a wide ranging discussion about society’s perspective on aging and what he calls, “life’s most dangerous game.” Nearly 300 people turned out to beautiful Nelson Hall at Elim Park Baptist Home in Cheshire, Connecticut to hear Dr. Thomas, joined by musician Nate Richardson.

As people entered, they were greeted by the sound of drumming and a blackboard with where people completed the phrase “as I age I dare to….” Everyone was encouraged inscribe their “dare” on their own personal shaker, and to contribute their own rhythm to the drumming.
Combining music, story-telling and multi-media, the performance seeks to debunk our pre-occupation and romance with the perfection of youth. As Dr. Thomas, demonstrates with a teenage picture of himself, braces and all, the reality is often not quite as rosy as the ideal. The romantic notion of youth is perpetuated with an anti-aging fantasy, which can be seen in the myriad products and services that claim to reverse the effects of aging.

Dr. Thomas proposes an alternative. Age takes things away, but it also offers new gifts. While today’s society emphasizes the losses, we can choose to see aging rather as the transcendence of youth. As we age what we’re good at changes, and we move beyond the cares and priorities that consumed us when we were younger.

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The key for a successful older life is to be able to discover “re-imagination”. Youth is about imagination and possibilities. Then people surrender their many dreams, and narrow their focus. They trade possibility for competence. As they become defined by their competence, they are afraid to try new things because, they’re afraid of looking foolish. In order to age well, we must let go of this fear, and regain some of those dreams, or find new ones.

Re-imagination is about creating opportunities to learn and grow. It’s about giving up competence for possibility. Take risks, because you never know what you might find. And taking these risks is life’s most dangerous game.

Jewish Senior Services Tikkun Olam: Repair the World, Celebrate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15

The Green House Project is honored to highlight a blog from Jewish Senior Services in Fairfield, CT.  This organization’s innovative work to support and protect the most vulnerable elders, has already made an impact on the local and national stage. 

June 15th is the eighth annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day ; a day we have observed at Jewish Senior Services for the past six years after opening the first long-term care based shelter in Connecticut. As we work every day to provide dignity and independence in a caring environment, a mission The Green House Project shares, we have also witnessed humbling examples of the barriers seniors face to receiving adequate care in other settings.  Through these experiences, we have learned how an aging service provider can play a crucial role in reducing those barriers.

At Jewish Senior Services, Tikkun Olam, which means “repair the world”, has always been a guiding core value of our mission. Our skilled nursing facility has served victims of elder abuse throughout our 40 year history, but prior to establishing our Center for Elder Abuse Prevention, we never formally recognized our role in that care.  Because we are often the primary or sole source of support for our country’s older adults, I firmly believe that all senior service agencies have an obligation and unique opportunity to practice Tikkun Olam.

Marta’s Story

The adult day center that Marta attended had been worried for over a year about the appearance of occasional bruises. Despite suspicions and inquiries, staff walked a delicate balance of attributing the marks to accidents and suspecting Marta’s niece, the caregiver, of abusing her elderly aunt. When Marta arrived one morning with a bloody broken nose and a painful-looking bruise on the back of her head, staff suspicions were confirmed. Due to advanced dementia, Marta was unable to remember how the injury had occurred. Social workers, doctors, police and emergency room personnel knew they could not send Marta home until an investigation had been conducted and her safety could be ensured. Our Center, the only specialized resource in the state, stepped in to secure emergency, confidential shelter and appropriate services to Marta in her time of need.

Expanding the Scope

As we serve more clients and learn more, our scope of services has expanded. We have staff expertise across our organization that contributes to these services. We’ve grown from a safe haven to providing education and advocacy throughout the state and across the country. Ultimately, the Center seeks to empower older Americans and their allies through education, outreach and services. Since our inception in 2007, the Center has provided:

  • 290 consulations to victims, professionals, friends and family members
  • 848 hours of service to 72 care management clients
  • 19 geriatric assessments, primarily for probate and criminal court proceedings
  • Shelter to 14 clients, who stayed in safe haven a total of 1,258 days
  • Training to 2,604 health, justice and human service professionals
  • Education and outreach to 714 seniors and other community members
  • Lectures at National Association of Area Agencies on Aging conferences across the country, as well as testimony before the Connecticut General Assembly and
  • Local, state and national leadership on the issue of elder abuse and elder rights.

 We are all on a shared journey to deliver a higher level of care and quality of life for adults as they age. Toward this end, I ask you to consider honoring World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. What can you do as an organization to recognize the day and help prevent elder abuse? Together we can work to reduce needless suffering and death among some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

 

 

To learn more about WEAAD, visit the Administration on Aging website for resources and links: http://www.aoa.gov/AoA_programs/Elder_Rights/EA_Prevention/weaad.aspx.

To join the network of elder safe haven providers and learn more, visit the newly formed SPRiNG Alliance website at: http://www.spring-alliance.org/.

 

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Contact: Laura Snow

203-365-6403

 

The Center for Elder Abuse Prevention is a grant-funded program of Jewish Senior Services (the new name of the Jewish Home in Fairfield) that opened in September 2007 to assist victims and reduce the prevalence of elder abuse. Serving seniors across Fairfield County, the Center provides clients with an array of services, including safe, confidential emergency housing. Its work is supported by matching grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as well as, the Near & Far Aid Association, The Southwestern Connecticut Area Agency on Aging, the Town of Fairfield, and private donors.  For more information on elder abuse, contact the Center at 203-396-1097.