Woodland Park Green House Homes in the Snow

Woodland Park in the Snow

Woodland Park in the Snow

Lots of people are working all over the place at the Green House Homes at Woodland Park in Harrisonburg, Virginia. At Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC) the staff is in training, the furniture is arranged, and everywhere people are making last-minute tweaks.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the kitchens?

One of the homes will be ready for residents in two weeks. VMRC is about to add a new community to its vibrant and caring culture. Grand opening ceremonies are January 5th and 6th at VMRC.

I will be blogging from the events on Saturday and Sunday.

It snowed last week in the Shenandoah Valley, and I took this picture of one of the new homes at Woodland Park.

BTW:  These homes have mountain views!

Grab Bars and Railings, Not Just for Elders: My Cataract

Who knew that when we installed all sorts of grab bars and railings in our house — intended to help our elder parents — they would be useful to me years before retirement?

From the NIH ADAM Encyclopedia

I am using these accommodations all the time just now because I have a cataract, and those relative small but important changes in our house are coming in handy.

My cataract is not caused by aging. In the spring of 2012, about seven months ago, a detached retina required immediate surgery. I wrote about my experiences to provide clear and objective reports about the process of retinal surgery and my recovery.

My surgeon performed a vitrectomy, successfully correcting the problem and maintaining my vision, but he warned me ahead of time that a side-effect of the surgery is the development of a cataract. I say side-effect rather than complication because almost everyone who gets this type of surgery develops a cataract. Sure enough, about three months after my surgery I began to develop one.

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Empowering Through Design: What a Health-Wellness Concept!

We’ve all had experiences trying to accomplish a task that is way too hard — and one reason it’s so difficult is because the environment is not designed to help a person function and work efficiently. Many of us have watched our aging parents grow frustrated, especially in medical settings, where equipment and furniture is overly complex and where even simple things, like light switches, sometimes look like they belong in the complex control panel of an airplane. And it’s not just elders, but patients in general. In the biography by Walter Isaacson, Apple Computer’s Steve Job, then seriously ill and hospitalized, noted that hospital equipment needed dramatic redesigning.

Click on this thumbnail to see a larger picture of the rolling hospital tray mentioned in the Wired article.

To learn more check out Empowering Patients Through Design, a short article at Wired Science reporting on a speech at the Wired Health Conference. The October 15, 2012 article describes Michael Graves’ presentation, explaining how he became a hospital patient and then discovered that he could no longer function efficiently — even in a rehabilitation setting. The medical rooms, equipment, and other materials were poorly designed for people with disabilities.

Graves, a renown architect, found a new calling, combining his professional knowledge with his experience as a patient and becoming a proponent of human centered design. This type of architecture aims to make health care environments, as well as other settings, more comfortable and user-friendly. “I decided that since I was a designer and architect and a patient, I have the credentials to do this,” Graves said at the conference.

In health care human centered design focuses on every part of the patient’s care experience from hospital and patient rooms to floors, light switches, and even signs. Graves and his group have designed hospital furniture that takes the specific needs of patients into consideration.

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Learning All We Can About Assisted Living

Check out 10 Things Assisted Living Homes Won’t Tell You, an August 15, 2012 article over at Smart Money.

These tips for adult children and their families look like common sense suggestions. Often however, when family members seek an assisted living community for an elder parent, they need to make decisions quickly without much time to read all of the fine print and ask the less obvious questions. Sometimes time constraints can put common sense at the bottom of the list.

Check out item number eight in the Smart Money list, “We pay people to put you here.” A family needs to know a lot about the placement service itself before considering its recommendations for an assisted living community.

Our family was most fortunate to discover Chesterbrook Residences in Northern, Virginia, where my husband’s mother lived for nearly two years. Their policies were transparent and clear.

More Automotive Changes for Aging Adults

A while back I wrote a post about the Ford Motor Company’s plans to increase the font size on dashboards, starting with car models in 2012.

An ad for this car appears at the New York Times just about every time I sign in, probably because of my age and demographic information.

The other day, via Dr. Bill Thomas’ Changing Aging blog, I read an article with more information about automotive changes. The piece was published on the SmartMoney.com Encore blog.

In A Stethoscope in the Steering Wheel, reporter Anne Tergesen describes some of the accommodations in the pipeline — changes that may be made in future models to assist aging drivers.

Here’s what stands out to me.  The cars will look just like any other car — nothing will give away the fact that they will provide  additional features for seniors when they drive.

Conversations about Dying

“… old age is a place we have never been. We may see it up close as our parents age, but we will never know what it’s like until we’re there.”

Visit Perspectives.

The quote comes from a piece I just read, a post by Paul Staley at the KQED Perspectives site. Staley describes a conversation that he had with his father about dying (and living). Contemplating the end of life –mulling over the cycle of life — is one of the most interesting aspects of life as an adult child. The more I pitch in to assist my parents, the more I find myself considering the fragility of our lives, realizing that I am not really that much younger than my parents. I’ve never felt as close to the aging period of my life as I do right now, despite the fact that I have some distance to travel before I get there.

Somehow, as people get older, they learn to deal with it, and it will be interesting to observe myself as I learn to do just that, figuring out, I hope, how to live well.