Green Houses for Older Elders: Part I

The Boston Globe published a terrific article, A ‘Green House’ in Chelsea Provides Skilled or Elder Care on a Family-like Site, about Green Housing for the elderly, describing newly a constructed community in the Chelsea section of Boston. According to the August 30, 2010 article by Kay Lazar, the new housing provides “alternatives to traditional institutional care for people needing long-term skilled nursing services.” The elder care arrangement banishes the medical model, instead setting up homelike communities where about 10 residents live and eat together as a community. They receive needed medical care, but that care is on the periphery — far from the center of daily life.

In his book What Are Old People For: How Elders Will Save the World, Dr. Bill Thomas (read his bio), points out that Green Houses look exactly like any other house in a neighborhood, other than being designed for individuals who may need certain types of assistance. The medical model is banished, as is the unrelenting rotation of staff members, day in and day out. Green Houses are intentional communities that fight ageism and celebrate the wisdom and experiences of “elderhood.”

Dr. Thomas, a Harvard trained physician, is a geriatrician, a member of the Erickson School faculty at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and a highly respected visionary in the geriatric care world (some people even refer to him as a guru). Read his Changing Aging blog. I’ve mentioned Bill Thomas in several other posts on this blog:

This post is the first of what I hope will be three posts on the Green Housing Initiative. Early next week I will share my conversations with staff members at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), the amazing continuing care community where my parents live. VMRC is raising money to build new green houses that will replace their existing nursing facility.

To learn more please read these posts about Woodland Park Green House Homes, a new community at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community.

9 thoughts on “Green Houses for Older Elders: Part I

  1. Hi Marty Glad you’re writing about this. I’m just reading Dr. Thomas’ book What Are Old People For. It is opening my eyes to my unconscious ageism and to the kind of thinking that gets in my way when I try to plan for my own old age.

    BTW did you see Paula Span’s post on elder co-housing yesterday?

    Inside Aging Parent Care


  2. Looking forward to your Green Housing series. The Green House movement seems very attractive, and I’m eager to learn more about it—particularly, is it a higher-cost model, and that’s what keeps more people from doing it?


  3. Pingback: Green House Homes are Coming: Following the Construction #1 « As Our Parents Age

  4. Pingback: More Pictures from 2012 VMRC Green House Groundbreaking « As Our Parents Age

  5. Pingback: Green House Homes Groundbreaking at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community « As Our Parents Age

  6. Pingback: Helping Parents Stay Out of a Nursing Home? « As Our Parents Age

  7. Pingback: Green House Construction Update at VMRC « As Our Parents Age

  8. Pingback: Green House Homes News from Maryland « As Our Parents Age

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.