If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time or even occasionally, you know that I’ve been keeping track of the new Green House Homes at Woodland Park with descriptions, pictures from the groundbreaking, and many construction images. The new neighborhood in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will be a special community that enables elders who have traditionally needed support in a nursing home, to live in a home setting while continuing to maintain much independence. Check out all of my posts about Woodland Park below.
The good news is that the these three beautiful homes at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community are almost finished. The grand opening weekend is January 5th and 6th. After that, move-in begins, with each home welcoming residents and establishing itself over a two-week period (6 weeks total).
I toured one of the Woodland Park homes recently. Finishing details were in progress, but already the house was filled with light and space, a private room for each resident, a kitchen that anyone can use, and lots of common areas, including a great (and grand) fireplace. The houses are constructed to be accessible — but almost nothing looks institutional. The goal of these homes is to provide a place where elders can live and “maintain self-care abilities longer, experience less depression, and receive timelier intervention as health conditions change.” (VMRC website). Basically, these beautiful buildings look like — well homes.
I get to Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC) to visit my parents about every two weeks. Each time I drop by the Woodland Park construction site to see how the Green House Homes are coming along.
The hope is for new residents to move into at least some of the homes in January. As I’ve chatted with a few of the residents who may be the initial community members, I detect a sense of excitement, reticence, nervousness, and just a bit of awe — feelings that just about everyone has when moving is a possibility. And the homes continue to rise.
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.
The VMRC Green Houses at Woodland Park are beginning to look like real houses with roofs, windows, and doors. Now much of the construction has moved indoors. This time when I visited, Mr. Marvin Nisely, who supervises the construction at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, took me on an inside tour of one of the homes.
Expand this post to see descriptions of the photos.
The walls continue to rise above the foundations at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community.
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 »
Earlier this month (July 2011) I took pictures (see below) of the demolition at the site of the future Green House® Homes at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC). In a recent article in the Harrisonburg News-Record, VMRC Vice President for Support Living, Melissa Fortner, reminded readers that the goal is for these new homes is to blend in and look like any other homes in the neighborhood. “It’s going to be a neighborhood just like you or I might live in,” she commented.
I’ll be posting pictures from time to time to keep readers up-to-date on the project which is to be called Woodland Park. Check out the bottom of the main page of the VMRC site to watch a video of the community celebration marking the start of the demolition, including a short presentation by Ron Yoder, the President of the VMRC organization.
Head over to the always information-filled and sometimes wonderfully provocative ChangingAging blog to see a guided video tour of a Green House Home. Led by elder advocate Dr. Bill Thomas, the walk-through is a must-see for anyone who wants to understand exactly what a Green House looks like as well as learn more about this non-medical, neighborhood-oriented living choice for elders.
Green houses are revolutionary, though I marvel at how it became revolutionary for people in the later years of their lives to expect to avoid a medical model and instead live in a normal residential situation while getting the support that they need. Go Green!
Sometime soon I plan to check in with Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC) to see how the planning for their Green House Homes building campaign is going. In the meantime, you can read the three posts I wrote about VMRC’s Green House planning a couple of months ago .