From a posting on Facebook by A Bittersweet Season author, Jane Gross. A bit scary, I think.
Some 29 states currently have laws making adult children responsible for their parents if their parents can’t afford to take care of themselves. These “filial responsibility” laws have rarely been enforced, but six years ago when federal rules made it more difficult to qualify for Medicaid long-term care coverage, some elder law attorneys predicted that nursing homes would start using the laws as a way to get care paid for.
Several years ago, when Jody G. started working at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), she watched a video about the Green House Homes that were to be built. Immediately she fell in love with the concepts and wanted to become a shahbaz, the name for each person who works in the home.
I knew right then that I wanted to go to work in a Green House with its atmosphere conducive to building relationships and where the residents would have a say in what happens each day,” she said. “I couldn’t wait until the houses were built.”
The second celebration at VMRC was a day to thank collaborators – attending from near and far — people who worked together to bring the new Green House Homes to life. According to CEO Ron Yoder, the entire process took nine years and two months of hard work — dreaming, envisioning, planning, designing, and building three houses. The plan is to build a total of ten houses, each with living space for ten residents. Check out the many pictures on this blog or check out the pictures of the inside of the Woodland Park homes at the VMRC website.
Sunday’s speakers included representatives from the Mennonite Health Services Alliance and the Virginia Association of Nonprofit Homes for Aging, and both groups will probably arrange to bring members to visit and learn more about Woodland Park. Susan Frazier, the CEO of NCB Capital Impact, a nonprofit that partners with organizations to improve elder care, shared some Green House Homes facts (see below). Thanks were offered to the architects and interior designers who created the beautiful spaces and made them look like real homes, and extra special recognition was given to VMRC staff members like Jody G., who will work in the homes as shahbazim — sharing, working, and caring for the residents in each house.
“Now I don’t mind getting old,” exclaimed Marie Detwiler, age 91, as she explored a new Woodland Park Green House Home at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC). She understands the Woodland Park philosophy as do lots of others attending the first of two grand opening events in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
After chatting with Mrs. Detwiler, I remembered my reaction last week when I dropped into one of the homes for a sneak preview. “Exquisite,” I kept saying to myself as I walked from room-to-room.
Today (January 5, 2013) we celebrated at the first of two Woodland Park grand opening events — almost one year to the day since the groundbreaking. With these first Green House Homes in the Commonwealth of Virginia, VMRC aims to start a trend, encouraging other providers to recast the way they address aging issues and helping elders age well in a caring community that preserves their independence — even when they need considerable medical support.
Ron Yoder, the VMRC Chief Executive Officer, shared his thoughts about Woodland Park, thanking scores of people — contributors, committees, builders, planners, fundraisers, and everyone else who has made it possible for VMRC to design and build the new community. Each resident, Yoder noted, is assured privacy in his or her own bedroom and bathroom, ample common living space, easy access to a kitchen, wireless, and plenty of outside space to enjoy. Read more »
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!
A few years ago, when my mother-in-law was sinking deeper and deeper into dementia, my husband and I suddenly realized, with some help from professional geriatric counselors, that the devious brain disease had been lurking for some time. Although we had noticed a number of memory issues and behaviors, we continually chalked them up to mundane issues of aging and personality. By the time we realized what was really going on and got serious about supporting his mother, she was well into the fourth stage of dementia, and we had missed many opportunities to offer support.
When I first read Inside the Dementia Epidemic by Martha Stettinius, I could not put it down. Right in front of my eyes, the author described and documented almost every step that her mother (and ours) experienced, first early on and then as it progressed incrementally. I wish that the book had been around for us to read five or six years ago.
Inside the Dementia Epidemic should be required reading for anyone who is beginning to notice changes and to feel concern about an elderly parent. Stettinius writes clearly, though not without emotion, about her caregiving role and her mother’s developing illness, sharing observations, explaining how her mother was changing, noting the effects of caregiving on her family’s life, and documenting the many caregiver support services that she found to be personally helpful. She describes the nuances of aging parental finances, sharing what she learned, pinpointing her mistakes, and highlighting the difficult decisions that she and her husband made.
Written by Karen Ravn, the article suggests focusing on nine specific issues that make an enormous difference in the safety and security of a senior parent’s home environment — where most elders want to live as long as they can.
Best Quote in the Article
According to Dr. David Reuben, Geriatrics Chief at UCLA’s Department of Medicine, “… there’s always a tension between autonomy and safety. Children may want to err on the side of safety, but parents may want to err on the side of autonomy.”
One of the reasons that I am so excited about the Green House® Homes construction at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), where my parents live, is the added option that these new dwellings will provide for my family, should one of my parents be unable to continue living at home. While their goal (and mine) is for them to continue living at home, we do not know what may happen to alter our plans, so it’s wonderful to have a care option that is not a nursing home. Moreover, one of the many advantages of Green House® Homes is that a key part of the mission is to help elders maintain their autonomy.
These four As Our Parents Age posts describe the process at VMRC. Watch for more that describe the construction. Read more »
A good deal of the Green House project philosophical basics grew out of Eden Alternative, and Dale Carter over at Transition Aging Parents has an excellent interview on the Eden Model at her blogtalk radio site (where she also posts lots of other good interviews).
Please note that blogtalk radio runs video advertisement before Dale’s program begins, but you can also listen by clicking on the welcome page of Transition Aging Parents and scrolling down on the right hand side or the page, thereby avoiding most of the blogtalk radio advertising.
Late yesterday afternoon, January 5, 2012, I attended a groundbreaking event at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC). Several hundred residents, family members, VMRC staff, board members, and friends celebrated the beginning of construction on three new Green House® Homes – the first residences in a new community to be called Woodland Park.
While most of the event was held inside an auditorium, the shoveling itself was outside. To ensure the widest participation on a cool January day, VMRC event organizers double-staged the outdoor festivities via a video feed, enabling residents to remain inside and still take an active part.
The philosophy behind Green House® projects is revolutionary, seeking no less than the complete transformation of long-term care for seniors who need 24-hour nursing support (check out some of my other posts below). New Green House® Homes around the country banish the medical model and demonstrate how it’s possible for elderly seniors to thrive while receiving the medical care they need, all the while living in a home that supports their freedom, dignity, and personal preferences. Green House® communities may look different from one another because they are expressly designed to blend in with the rest of a city, town or neighborhood, looking like any other homes in the area. Read more »