Each time a friend or acquaintance experiences an illness or death in the family, I go through the same thought process. When should I call? What should I offer? Will I intrude?
What it really comes down to is this: I should stop dithering around and just do something — just about anything, really — to demonstrate that I am thinking about my friends. It all comes down to being present for the people who need to know that their friends care.
In a thoughtful January op-ed piece New York Times columnist, David Brooks, wrote about The Art of Presence. All of us, he explains, need to develop the ability to understand how and when and be near people who need our assistance and support, especially during times of great stress or loss. Many of us of are not that adept at responding appropriately when people need our help.
“There are no uniformly right responses,” Brooks writes. He also describes how blogger Catherine Woodiwiss shares her family’s experience with trauma and offers what Brooks calls collective wisdom — how to help others in need and the importance of being present (and maybe it’s just being around) when things go wrong in people’s lives.
The MGH Proto article also includes facts about the cost of building a completely new Green House community and provides an overview of the elder care culture change that is happening in other parts of the country. Author Delude points out that widespread success in culture change may depend on the staffing issues in elder care communities. Factors such as the huge turnover of elder care staff, their low pay, and the way that for-profit facilities maintain a staff that is about a third below the number of people that a non-profit nursing community hires.
One small section of the info graphics. Read the description of the survey and see more info graphics in the magazine or visit the More website.
Intrigued by the Next Avenue article, an NBC Today Show interview about the survey, and More magazine’s brief on-line description (the full results will not be posted on-line until late October), I purchased the magazine. The most interesting survey result is that 81 percent of the 751 participating men and women say that they expect to help their parents when the time for helping out arrives. Continue reading →
I chatted with Dr. Bill Thomas during the grand opening of the Green Houses in Virginia.
In case you missed it, listen to this terrific All Things Considered segment, Move Over Nursing Homes — There’s Something Different. The July 23, 2013 radio story describes a visit to a Green House community in Baltimore and features Dr. Bill Thomas, the geriatrician who created the concept of elder care communities that help residents maintain as much independence as possible.
The reporter also interviews staff members and residents who describe their daily lives the Baltimore community.
If you can locate a copy of The New Yorker May 20, 2013 articleThe Sense of An Ending by Rebecca Mead, it’s well worth reading because of its focus on new models of providing care to fragile elders with dementia illnesses in nursing homes. The article extensively describes the Beatitudes Campus in Arizona, but it also mentions The Green House Projectand the Pioneer Network. The Beatitudes model and The Green House Project share many approaches.
So I was excited during dinner with friends last month when one of the people at the table, a neurologist, mentioned The New Yorker article, saying how excited he was to learn about new models that completely change the way we deliver care to fragile elders, especially those with memory impairments. After he spoke at length about the article — which I had not read yet — I shared information and my blog posts about the new Woodland Park Green Houses in Harrisonburg, VA. Our physician friend seemed really eager to learn a lot more.
I”ve spent the past several years learning as much as I can about The Green House Project, primarily because my parents live at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), where the Woodland Park community recently welcomed new residents. However, I’ve been so focused on this small Virginia project (but huge in spirit and dedication) that I’ve not thought much about how people can share information on the amazing changes that are taking place in long-term nursing care.
Certainly educating neurologists — the physicians all over the country who provide medical care to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s and who may, in the long run, be asked for their thoughts on the types of memory care that are available to families is a path to consider.
If you help to support an aging parent and also like listening to folk music with strong spiritual themes (also called Christian pop), take a few minutes to listen to singer Amy Grant talk about caregiving for her aging father, a retired physician, and how these experiences influence her music.
During the program, broadcast via AARP radio, Grant also speaks about her mother, who had dementia. Grant’s newest album, How Mercy Looks from Here, came out this past spring (2013), and the music is shaped, in part, by the time she has spent supporting her parents.