Home Healthcare

Baby Boomers says “No thanks” to the traditional Long Term Care Community Model

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Have you ever heard the term “walkable urbanism?” If you’re like me then the answer is No. The concept stems from the changing paradigm in senior generations. Seniors from the “silent” generation (born during the World War I era) sought to spend their senior years in communities that provided them with a sense of security. That generation placed a premium on living in a community that provided a sense of belonging. They believed that there is strength in numbers, and thought that they would have a peace of mind in living out their senior years in traditional long term care facilities.

Unlike the silent generation, the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) values very different communities and lifestyles. This generation demands access to so much more-hence the emergence of the walkable urbanism communities – communities that provide its residents with choices; that recognize the need for flexibility and therefore provide a variety of experiences for its residents. Some may feel like a hotel, while others embrace a very integrated multi-generational setting. Gone are the days when seniors settled for living out their years in a Long-Term Care facility environment. This generation wants variety and freedom in dining, shopping, entertainment and housing.

Boomers would much prefer to dine in a food court that offers variety in dining experiences, than in the same formal dining room every day. In a Huff Post article I read recently, Jared Green wrote, “Imagine an apartment complex in a highly walkable environment, open to the surrounding neighborhood, with ground floor shops, cafes, and restaurants, and close to multi-modal transit opportunities, parks, plazas, self-storage facilities, and co-working spaces.” New Senior Living Model Needed to Satisfy Aging Boomers | HuffPost. This is the environment in which boomers would rather spend their later years.

So how are we, as senior care providers, meeting the needs of boomers, who demand individualized living experiences? Well we’ve seen a marked increase in home-care providers in the last decade, we have also seen innovative changes in what used to be “facility” care. One such innovation is The Green House Project. These are freestanding buildings where 10 people live and receive skilled nursing level care, in a financially viable home setting, that meets the social and healthcare needs of boomers at the same time.

In this setting the nursing station, medicine carts and dining rooms, are icons of a past era. In its place are storage closets designed to look like furniture, nursing areas that are small alcoves inserted into the design of the home. Medicine is stored in individual room closets, which are locked for safety, but close enough in proximity for the resident.

A model that is my personal favorite, that truly allows the senior to age in their home, is the intentionally elder-friendly community. This is the creation or renovation of whole communities that are intentionally designed to support seniors. These communities are designed to meet the social, physical and mental needs of seniors in close proximity to their homes. These integrated communities adjust their surroundings to include seniors; compensating for their frailties and disabilities and promoting social and civic engagement.

Design principles critical to an elder-friendly community, is integrated throughout the renovation or creation of these communities.

There is a variety of easily accessible transportation systems; business and housing is in walk-able distance; bathroom, kitchens and bedrooms are on the main level, and of course the doorways are wide enough for a wheelchair to access. Community centers and businesses are built with the needs of the young and old in mind. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of such communities located in the US. So while 82% of Americans would prefer to age in their own homes, senior care providers are behind on accommodating their wishes.

Having communities that are designed with all of its population in mind would transform how we live out our senior years, and as I often tell my children, if we live long enough, we’ll all be a senior person one day; so wouldn’t it be great to have choices when that day is now?

Happy Thanksgiving

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If life was a rollercoaster, then 2016 would be my personal Kingda Ka. So on this Thanksgiving Day, I must give Thanks for the ride and riders of 2016. And what better way to give thanks than with a List? And since I could never get past 10 things on any list, I’ll limit my gratitude list to 10 😊.  The 10 things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving Day are….

  1. Family and friends – Expressing gratitude for these relationships often becomes perfunctory. But when I remember the many who has an empty seat at their table this year – public figures, colleagues and friends  – I feel a deeper sense of gratitude for my family and friends.  For their love, support, loyalty – and for just being present. I am so thankful for all of you.

  2. Seniors – to our clients who entrust us with their care – THANK YOU. This year our first client passed away. We had cared for him for 8 years. Every Thanksgiving He give us poinsettias. He was generous, kind, engaging, and had a gift for making the stranger feel like a friend. I am thankful for the many lessons we learned from caring for him over the years.

  3. Our staff – I am grateful for the dedication of the men and women, who chose to serve seniors. For the compassion and 100% dedication you give to our clients – THANK YOU. You make our sphere of service a better place.

  4. God – specifically, His grace, protection, provision and love.  His grace and love sustained me through the lows of this year, and His provision and protection are the only reasons for the highpoints of this ride of my life. I am thankful to God.

  5. Caramel Almond Clusters – I know, I probably should think of something more profound to follow God’s grace, but have you had a caramel cluster? Well when you do, you’ll understand that this bite of utter goodness is worthy of making a gratitude list😉.

  6. Growth – this year, more than any other, I have learned to be slow to judge others. To pause as I form an opinion, and look for the panoramic view, rather than snapshots of a person’s life.  To be slow to judge and even slower to act on judgments formed, is a kindness I cherish when afforded,  and therefore should be willing to pay it forward.

  7. Election is over. I know, you’re thankful too!

  8. Laughter – it really is a good medicine. And because I’m thankful that you took the time to read my list, I’ll pass along an app my son loaded on my phone-ifunny – download the app and lol.

  9. Bolt – my 5 year old Shih Tzu. He is love and acceptance wrapped up in a 12 lb package of fluffiness. I am so thankful for him!

  10. Perspective – sometimes I’ve gotten this with time, other times from talking a situation out with another person – this year I gained perspective through life’s experience. I am thankful that I’m alive, that God is gracious, that friends are kind, that life goes on, that growth is possible, and that I thought of this list!

William Arthur Ward said that, feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it, Ditto that!

Happy Thanksgiving!

When Despair visits

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de·spair [dəˈsper] the complete loss or absence of hope: synonyms: hopelessness · depressed. gloomy. disheartenment · discouragement.

We all have experienced that emotional response to bad news – we call it sadness, but when it lingers, when it takes up space and time and refuses to leave, we may call it depression or despair.


Despair is an unwelcome guest that visits us all – rich, poor, young, old, black, white, famous, unknown, powerful and powerless.


When we read about the rich and famous, some of us may even snicker at some of the things they do to invite this houseguest, then seems surprise by his presence, or by his lengthy stay!  Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson comes to mind.


Then there is the friend, or relative who stands on their doorsteps and beckons this houseguest to come in. You know them, they love stuff and spends their paycheck + credit card acquiring more stuff – begging despair to linger for years as they avoid the phone calls and mail from one of despair’s favorite elf – the debt collector!


Or that despair chaser that blindly seeks after fun, knowing the cost is more than they could pay, but fun (and ridding themselves of boredom) outweighs their judgment and despair is the inevitable result – sometimes in the form of an addiction, or imprisonment, or job loss, or disease.


And then there is the sick, the loss, and the pain that results in enduring the presence of this unwelcome guest. While these precursors to despair comes to us all – sick, loss and pain is no respecter of persons– they tend to lodge at the door of the senior person more often than not.


Perhaps because, after years of fighting that unwelcome guest, the senior person has lost arsenal and energy?  He or she is weakened and despair seeks to rest rather than visit? Whatever the reason, despair is more of an epidemic – rapidly spreading like an infectious disease – than a random virus, for the senior person.


It knocks, kicks down the door and storms in at the most inopportune times – recent negative medical diagnosis + loss of a spouse. Outliving an adult child, or a lifelong friend, and deciding about moving to a long term care facility because of this loss.


Despair arrives and declares itself the winner, in a life that was spent battling its presence and lingering effects, and how does the weary war torn soldier respond? More often with these four words, “I want to die.”


As health care professionals we hear these four words often, and our trite response is often, a gentle chide, a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, an unrequited hug.


We may even ask family members to talk with a Psychologist, get the senior person on anti-depressants, or if there is no cognitive impairment, suggest talk-therapy with a professional. But what if the senior only wants you, yes you daughter, son, grandchild? What if just your presence – consistent, not sporadic – presence – listening – laughing – sharing – reminiscing, is all that senior person wants?


What if  your presence, and my presence alone, is the stimuli that causes that unwelcome houseguest – despair – to pack-up, and head out the door, or better yet, to forget it ever knew the address for our senior love ones?