Green House Blog

Reclaiming Elderhood

Andrea Tyck is the Wellness Director at Mt San Antonio Gardens, a Life Care Community in Pomona, California.  She is also a Green House Educator and helped to open the first Green House homes in California.

Andrea Tyck, Green House Educator, Mt. San Antonio Gardens, Pomona, CA
Andrea Tyck, Green House Educator, Mt. San Antonio Gardens, Pomona, CA

In Jerry Spinelli’s book Hokey Pokey, Hokey Pokey is a place where there are no adults. Kids are in charge and free to roam.  The main character, Jack, is the de facto leader and is loving his life until things start to change.  A tattoo, present on the bellies of all the inhabitants of Hokey Pokey, begins to fade.  When his bike, the symbol of his power and influence is stolen, he oddly begins to adjust to its absence. And what’s worse is that his enduring disdain for girls and a girl named Jubilee, in particular, is beginning to lose its grip.  She might even become a friend.   In addition Jack begins to sense that he is going to be leaving Hokey Pokey although he doesn’t  know why or how.  Jack tells Jubilee he thinks he is leaving that night.  When she asks “How do you know?” he replies “I don’t. It’s like” – he stares up into her eyes – “I’m on a bike I can’t steer, can’t stop.”  “So….,” she says, “Where to?”  He hangs full weight from her eyes.  “Beats me.”

The book cover explains that it is “a timeless tale of growing up and letting go, of reverence and remembrance of that moment in childhood when the world opens up to possibilities never before imagined.”   Ever since I read it I have been thinking of how the process of children becoming adults might be similar to the process of adults becoming elders.

Dr. Bill Thomas makes a case that elderhood is a distinct part of human development and that part of the process of that development is leaving adulthood. In very broad terms that means moving from a primary focus on doing and generating to embracing the “being-rich responsibilities of making peace, giving wisdom, and creating a legacy.”  In the land of Hokey Pokey, Jack’s transition out of childhood is perceptible but vague.  The reader has a sense of what might be happening to Jack (he is growing up) but the steps are still somewhat confounding.  Might that be similarly true of one’s growth out of adulthood and development into elderhood?  Are there signs that the purposes in your life and the mechanisms by which you enjoy, ponder and resolve things have been transformed?    Are there treasured parts of you or your life that you no longer have (like Jack’s bike) that you realize you are ok without?

The book ends with Jack back in the “real world” preparing to redo his bedroom with his dad to make it less childish.  There is a sense of hope, that all is right.  That the magical world he left behind wistfully has been left for “possibilities never imagined.”  Perhaps the journey into elderhood can also be hopeful, that leaving adulthood is as it should be, and that it is , per Dr. Thomas, a “complex ripening, a richness that is unavailable to those who remain in the fevered grip of adulthood.”

 

Collaborating for a “Sustainable” Future

The future demands that we work together to create viable and sustainable programs.  The world is a dynamic and ever-changing place, with an imperative to do more with less.  In order to achieve these outcomes, the charge is there to innovate and collaborate—pooling our resources and strengths, to evolve our communities. 

Recently, in New Orleans, The Green House Project team had two different opportunities to interact with thought leaders who are impacting the future.  First, we participated in  a round table discussion with Strategic Development Partners, where we joined a diverse group from healthcare, education and finance to contemplate the vision for sustainable, livable communities.  Next, during the AHCA-NCAL Independent Owners conference, the focus on quality as an economic imperative, sparked many substantive conversations about the role The Green House Project can play in long term care innovation.

 The concept of sustainable development was a continuing theme throughout the week,  but what does “sustainable” mean in this context?  The United Nations 2005 World Summit Outcome Document refers to the “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” of sustainable development as economic development, social development, and environmental protection. By investing in local culture and shifting thinking from “who are you building it for“, to “who are you building it with”, the potential is there to create value and a perpetuating impact for the community.

Through an initiative on quality, AHCA CEO, Mark Parkinson, imparted that to survive in this changing health care environment, providers need to diversify and adapt.  Sustainability is multi-fold, in order to be financially viable, the organization must have a keen focus on quality.  Parkinson said, “Quality is not just the right thing to do, it is an imperative to survive and be reimbursed in the future”.  AHCA is focusing on hospital readmissions, anti-psychotic drugs, staff retention and resident satisfaction as benchmarks to determine quality.    

The time in New Orleans, taught The Green House Project team many lessons about sustainability.  To survive and thrive, there must be a focus on the social, financial and environmental impact of innovation.  Ongoing benchmarking and data collection is necessary to ensure that there is an evidence base for the good work that is being done, and that our resources are being used effectively.  Most importantly, sustainable development requires participative discussion, and inclusion of many different stakeholders.  By bringing those “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” to the table, the end product has the power to create that integrated force for success!

Collaborating for a "Sustainable" Future

The future demands that we work together to create viable and sustainable programs.  The world is a dynamic and ever-changing place, with an imperative to do more with less.  In order to achieve these outcomes, the charge is there to innovate and collaborate—pooling our resources and strengths, to evolve our communities. 

Recently, in New Orleans, The Green House Project team had two different opportunities to interact with thought leaders who are impacting the future.  First, we participated in  a round table discussion with Strategic Development Partners, where we joined a diverse group from healthcare, education and finance to contemplate the vision for sustainable, livable communities.  Next, during the AHCA-NCAL Independent Owners conference, the focus on quality as an economic imperative, sparked many substantive conversations about the role The Green House Project can play in long term care innovation.

 The concept of sustainable development was a continuing theme throughout the week,  but what does “sustainable” mean in this context?  The United Nations 2005 World Summit Outcome Document refers to the “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” of sustainable development as economic development, social development, and environmental protection. By investing in local culture and shifting thinking from “who are you building it for“, to “who are you building it with”, the potential is there to create value and a perpetuating impact for the community.

Through an initiative on quality, AHCA CEO, Mark Parkinson, imparted that to survive in this changing health care environment, providers need to diversify and adapt.  Sustainability is multi-fold, in order to be financially viable, the organization must have a keen focus on quality.  Parkinson said, “Quality is not just the right thing to do, it is an imperative to survive and be reimbursed in the future”.  AHCA is focusing on hospital readmissions, anti-psychotic drugs, staff retention and resident satisfaction as benchmarks to determine quality.    

The time in New Orleans, taught The Green House Project team many lessons about sustainability.  To survive and thrive, there must be a focus on the social, financial and environmental impact of innovation.  Ongoing benchmarking and data collection is necessary to ensure that there is an evidence base for the good work that is being done, and that our resources are being used effectively.  Most importantly, sustainable development requires participative discussion, and inclusion of many different stakeholders.  By bringing those “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” to the table, the end product has the power to create that integrated force for success!