Celebrating the Opening at Woodland Park – Part I

cathedral ceiling green house

A beautiful cathedral ceiling and window

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.

yoder green house gopening

Ron Yoder, CEO, presides over the event.

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.     Continue reading

Green House Homes Groundbreaking at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community

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. Continue reading

Read More on Green House® Homes

I’ve just read the post, Two New Green House Stories, over at Allen Power’s blog. His post tells a story that illustrates how Green House® “at home” expectations and environment make an enormous qualitative difference for an aging senior. And be sure to read far enough along to get to the mattress anecdote — it ‘s a hoot.

Power’s blog is a part of the Changing Aging blogstream. Learn more about Green House® homes here.

I’m pretty excited about what’s about to happen at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), where my parents currently live in a cottage. On January 5, 2011, two months plus a few days away, VMRC will break ground for Woodland Parkthe site for its new Green House® homes. I’ll be attending the groundbreaking ceremony.

Right now the construction site  is a large meadow, and what is most noticeable are the large number of trees still standing after demolition. I plan to post lots of pictures as the Woodland Park construction proceeds.

Here’s the floor plan. Click on the image to make it larger.

Aging Seniors: What a Difference a Word Makes #2

Words matter, especially words that describe people who are aging. In every day conversation, disrespectful phrases such as “old people” or “old folks,” are commonly used. My parents and many of their friends detest these comments.

This week I listened to a podcast of a panel discussion, produced by a well-known media outlet, and buried in the interesting content were comments such as “too old” and “not all there.” So many of these words emphasize the gap between older and younger people. The problem is ageism, plain and simple.

Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community Supportive Language Card, Side 1

Growing old is a normal part of life, and while it can be hard work, most people manage it quite well with intellects intact.

Yet keeping a sense of self, not to mention pride, is a daily challenge so rigorous that perhaps it should even be added to the activities of daily living (ADL’s). Older seniors navigate a minefield of unintentional (my dad calls them tacky) comments and references designed to trivialize. The International Longevity Center, founded by the late Dr.Robert N. Butler (NY times Obituary), posts this short article, Old Age has Value in Today’s Youth-Oriented Society by Ithaca College Gerontology Professor John A. KroutDr Krout also heads the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute.

Some communities are trying to address the problem. Continue reading