Green House Projects Multiply and Grow Even Stronger

Green Houses, the non-medical model homes for fragile elders who need long-term care, have been in the 2015 news.

Woodland Park in the Snow

One of three homes at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community’s Woodland Park — on a snowy day.

Take some time to read an exciting end-of-year blog post over at The Green House Project. Written by staff member Rachel Sher McLean, the short, yet comprehensive article describes how Green House projects are thriving,, and the piece includes links to articles noting the success of this model of long-term care. If you do not know much about The Green House Project, check out the organization’s website.

You can also bring yourself up to speed by reading my series of posts about the building of three Green Houses at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC).                             Continue reading

Second Wind: A New Book and Tour by Dr. Bill Thomas

second-wind-coverLeave it to Dr. Bill Thomas to write a new book, in this case Second Wind, and then use the book tour, not just to publicize its release by joining radio personalities and attending book signings, but instead to educate in a big way. Dr. Bill, some of his Eden Alternative and Green House Project colleagues, and other friends have undertaken a nationwide educational SecondWind Tour — with stops in 25 cities between the beginning of March and the end of May 2014. He’s using the book and the tour to promote his philosophy — and his beliefs — about aging.

Dr. Thomas’s philosophy is powerful, which is good because he is proclaiming and evangelizing to a large and very powerful demographic — the boomers — a generation that is beginning to age in earnest. A goodly number of us don’t quite know what to think about aging or how to get on with it. Of course we know we are going to age but are definitely uncertain about next steps. Participants at one of Dr. Thomas’s SecondWind Tour events — my husband and I attended the Washington, DC festivities — see and hear quite a bit about aging, gaining some insight, ideas, and tools that stimulate even more thinking. Did I mention that Dr. Bill is a great storyteller?

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A Better Old Age: U Mich Public Health Magazine Theme

findings home

Check out this magazine issue.

The other day when I picked up a copy of Findings, the alumni magazine of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, I discovered that the entire fall 2013  issue focuses on how to age well and improve old age. My husband is a Michigan alumnus, but the magazine is freely available as an easily downloadable and easy-to-read PDF file. The magazine is filled with information about retirement, aging, changes to expect, and ideas to make retirement fulfilling — useful for adult children and their aging parents.

This issue’s theme, A Better Old Age, addresses a range of topics including 15 Ideas for a Better Old Age, an article that examines future changes in the world of aging, and a special Guide to Thriving filled with interesting tips. In another article author Nicholas Delbanco shares thoughts on Lastingness: The Art of Old Age —  his 2011 book that examines artists who live long and productive lives into advanced elderhood. And 95-year-old retired but still active Michigan professor Robert Kahn discusses his principles of aging well, taken from his 1998 book Successful Aging. In another feature, To Retire or Not, Michigan School of Public Health professors who have retired share some of their thoughts about their new lives.            Continue reading

Great Green House Homes Article in Mass General Hospital Publication

Green House Homer MGHAn in-depth article about the Green House Home model appeared in the Fall 2013 edition of Proto Magazine, a publication of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. The article, The New Nursing Home, by Cathryn Delude, describes the Green House model at the  Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA. The report also goes into considerable detail about the Green House Homes model, quoting Dr. Bill Thomas who came up with the concept in 2003.

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.

Most Interesting Quote from the Article                  Continue reading

Best Books on Aging — 30 Years Worth

Longevity Rev2

As an adult daughter, not to mention an individual who is moving inexorably, but not unwelcomingly, toward retirement years, I read a lot of books about philosophy, aging, transitions, and mindfulness. I have plenty of books to choose from on all sorts of aging and life topics.

Ronni Bennett over at Time Goes By has just updated the books section of her blog. She lists her favorites — published over a 30 year time span — along with short quotes, and her selections offer thoughtful, realistic, and even a few downright literary portrayals of the aging process during our senior years.

As a group, Bennet explains, her favorite books offer “collected wisdom and knowledge of their superb writers – thinkers and activists who aim a bright, shining light onto the realities of getting old.” It’s a pretty cool list, one that steers determinedly away from pop culture and promises of wrinkle-free elderhood.

What_Are_Old_Peo_49d67ac7e88b6_150x150Two of the books, What Are Old People For?, by Dr Bill Thomas, and The Longevity Revolution, by Dr. Robert N. Butler, have inspired a number of posts here on As Our Parents Age, and I’ve been privileged to hear both of these gifted physician authors speak. Dr. Butler died in 2010. To find out how much I  am influenced by Dr. Thomas’ book, please visit my Green House Homes page.            Continue reading

Core Values of Green Houses

20130125-101414.jpgCheck out the post Exploring Green House Core Values: Real Home over at the Changing Aging blog.

Rachel Scher of The Green House Project describes how Green House movement founder, Dr. Bill Thomas, envisions homes where residents create a community together — supported by staff members (shabazz) who are trained not only to provide care but also to provide and encourage the home-creating process.

In her post Scher makes the distinction between creating “home-like homes”versus making real homes.At the end of the post watch a great video that celebrates ten years of the Green House Movement.

In this picture Dr. Bill Thomas speaks at the dedication of the new Woodland Park Green House Homes at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community early in January 2013.