On a daily basis I hear people use the word facility, and it’s almost always modified by the adjectives such as assisted living, nursing, and care. I’ll stand in the supermarket line and overhear a conversation between two people about moving a frail relative into a nursing facility. I’ll read an article or watch a television program, and sure enough, if an elder who needs care is involved, they go to a facility. I’ll listen to a social worker (who should know better) in a hospital tell a friend that her parent needs to be moved from the hospital into a rehab facility (and my friend has two days to pull off the move). Continue reading
No one ever wants to think about the possibility of a nursing home. Yet long-term care may figure prominently in many of our lives.
The New York Times recently published two articles by Jane Brody about how to choose a nursing home community carefully. In part one, Nursing Home Unthinkable? Be Prepared in Case It’s Inevitable, she interviews people who point out how the biggest problem for most families is the timing — the necessity of choosing a nursing community with little time for discovery or preparation.
The piece presents a veritable checklist to help a family go about making a choice when true nursing care is required.
Best Quote in Part I
Nursing homes generally have had a bad reputation as smelly, indifferent places where people go to die. But “there are some homes that are better than being at home,” Ms. Leefer said in an interview. “And there are many more good facilities than bad ones.”
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.
Interesting Points in the NPR Story Continue reading
If you can locate a copy of The New Yorker May 20, 2013 article The 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 Project and 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.
The Family Caregiver Alliance – National Center on Caregiving, a San Francisco organization that assists family members who need information on long-term care issues, offers materials that can help adult children and spouses understand as much as possible about the complex and confusing world of caregiving.
According to the organization’s press release and website, the fact and tip sheets aim to help families navigate through the personal, legal and financial decisions that adult children and spouses must make when they care for elders with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or brain trauma. I’ve downloaded several of these resources documents and they are excellent and comprehensive.
My father, a retired minister, and my mother are leading a short Bible study once a week at Woodland Park, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community’s (VMRC), newly opened Green House Homes. The weekly activity is engaging and fun for mom and dad, and they enjoy sharing scripture as well as music with the group members. Most of the participants who choose to attend are physically fragile and some also have significant memory loss.
Each Thursday my parents bring a lesson, as much as possible, from the weekly lectionary — the three-year cycle of Bible readings that corresponds with the events of the Christian church liturgical year. Many ministers base their Sunday sermons on these readings, and many churches schedule their Bible study groups to help members learn more about the lectionary passages prior to the Sunday service when the passages are read during worship.
At the Woodland Park Bible study sessions my parents just about always read a Psalm. Dad chooses the next reading based on how well-known and familiar it is, because the participants are increasingly engaged when they recognize the story, and some may even share a thought or two after hearing the passage read aloud. With this group familiarity with a passage is more important than any one lectionary passage.
Music and hymn singing become more central each time my parents lead a session, since just about every member of the group seems to automatically remember words to many of the old-time favorite hymns. Continue reading