Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Resources for Family Caregivers

In Minnesota alone, everytime the ranks of family caregivers declines by 1%, it costs the state another $30 million.As we face the largest numbers of people ever needing care, many baby boomers and others are going to become caregivers. Johnson & Johnson sees this booming market and the need to provide information and support networks. Check out their new web site dedicated to people taking care of a loved one: It has all kinds of useful information in its online caregiving manual, a comparison chart for selecting senior housing options, financial planning information and an online community for caregivers … . kudos to Johnson and Johnson for this resource. What other information do you think would be useful for caregivers that people have difficulty finding? Are there other online resources that you’ve come across that are helpful to people as they navigate long-term care?

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Changing Aging: The Zimmers

The Zimmers just make you feel good. While their singing is awesome, more interesting is their story below. In Minnesota and America, we have to get people out of isolation. AGING is about LIVING … . even at the very end of life.[youtube]S1ss_gzLTvM[/youtube]BY BOB RIPLEY, SUN MEDIA You might call it the rock of the ageless. Or Grand Funk.Either way, Zimmermania is spreading.The Zimmers, a band of 40 lonely old people have climbed, or perhaps shuffled, on to the British pop charts with their cover of The Who’s anthem, My Generation.The band takes their name from the Zimmer frame which is the British name for our walker. It was formed as part of a BBC documentary to show the isolation felt by many of the nation’s elderly.Alf, 90, sings lead vocals. The oldest member is 100-year-old Buster who still works as a plumber and is believed to be the oldest employee in Britain. Their combined age is over 3,000, slightly more than the Rolling Stones, stretching back to before Cleopatra and even Alexander the Great.Their video has been viewed more than 2.3 million times on YouTube.A few weeks ago Winnie, the 99-year-old, was mainly answering questions about what she wanted for supper in her senior’s home. Now it’s whether she’s covering Oasis' Live Forever if there’s an album.'Oh, I’m enjoying this very much' twinkles Winnie, before shuffling past the scrum into the TV studios. What has propelled Winnie into the midst of a global frenzy is being a member of the Zimmers, perhaps the most extraordinary pop sensation around.Zimmermania may be a funny frenzy, but its genesis was serious. It began as a documentary exposing the marginalization of the elderly and in the process challenges our preconceptions.Phyllis Diller used to say you know you’re getting old when your back goes out more than you do. Old age is not, as the saying goes, for sissies. But ultimately what matters most is not the condition of your arteries but your attitudes.When Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90, they got news the stork was on his way at last. The Bible says Sarah laughed. It may have been to keep from crying, but it was still laughter. And when the baby came they named him Laughter, which is what Isaac means in Hebrew, because no other name would do.When you’re old you can be who you are, say what you feel, do what you want and let the chips fall where they may. Like King Lear, you can 'pray, and sing, and tell old tales and laugh at gilded butterflies.' You can even record a hit single.Profits from sales of My Generation go to Age Concern, Britain’s largest charity for the elderly.Watching the video of the Zimmers is both poignant and hilarious. But there’s something magical about watching lead singer Alf deliver the line, 'Hope I die before I get old.'Proving once again that you don’t grow old; you get old by not growing.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Looking Through a Different Lens

The other day we highlighted a new commercial from Erickson, an innovator in the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) field. A few other interesting things from Erickson. They have a blog called e-chronicles here. They’ve done some very neat things in reaching out to their customers and beyond. The Erickson Tribune, which has become a lifestyle newspaper, that goes to 6.5 million people. They’ve also started Retirement TV, a cable television network. In addition Erickson also has underwritten a new undergraduate and graduate school program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. It’s mission: To prepare a community of leaders who will use their education to improve society by enhancing the lives of older adults. Erickson has a number of resources that most organizations in senior housing and long-term care dream of. According to a 2006 Baltimore Sun article, Erickson planned to spend $20 million on their newspaper. But how they think and approach things is applicable to all organizations in terms of innovation: they have looked at aging differently and through that lens have developed new niches and met people’s desires in senior housing and aging services that weren’t being served. What other innovative ideas have you seen out there that are looking at aging differently?

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Employee Innovation and Technology in Senior Housing and Long-Term Care

L to R: Tracy Meyers, Mark Hibbison, Wendy Traffie and Kathy Bakkenist next to the newly planted oak tree honoring the Lakeview Commons team.Yesterday was the first of two big celebrations within Ecumen. The team members at Lakeview Commons, an Ecumen assisted living community in Maplewood, were honored with Ecumen’s highest award: The Majestic Oak Award. Two years ago, the team at Lakeview Commons raised their hand to pilot QuietCare technology that helps us spot small health problems before they grow into larger ones. Their initial pilot of 20 people grew and grew. Today more than 600 customers at Ecumen Communities use QuietCare.Lakeview Commons and The Oaks and the Pines of Hutchinson were this year’s Majestic Oak winners for innovation. The Hutchinson celebration is coming up. Here’s how our online Innovation Station program works:

L to R: Care Attendants Jessica Wiszowaty and Cindy ObergAcorn Awards: All members of a innovation team receive acorns.Seedling Awards: Awarded to those innovations deemed 'Major Innovations.'Majestic Oak Award: Given to a team that develops a 'Major Innovation' and then helps other Ecumen communities develop it. The Oak Tree was planted at Lakeview Commons in honor of their achievement.Fertile Ground Award: Give to those communities who adapt a major innovation.You can read a recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article about the Innovation Station here. More information about all of this year’s winners can be found here.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

The Age Wave and the Presidential Debates

Tonight on CNN, there is a unique debate where CNN editors will ask questions of the Democratic candidates for President. The questions will come from YouTube video questions submitted by viewers. Above are some samples. Wonder if there will be any questions asked about aging and how we’re preparing the country for the Age Wave. If you missed getting your question in for the Democrats, you can still do it for the upcoming Republican debate.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Futurist’s View of Long-Term Care Profession

Ian Morrisson is a futurist who deals a lot in healthcare and has spoken at a number of long-term care conferences. He’ll be one of the headliners at Mayo Clinic’s 2008 National Symposium on Health Care Reform. It’s kind of interesting to take a look back at what a futurist says and then what actually happens. Check out this excerpt from a 1999 Nursing Home magazine interview with Ian: Changing demographics related to an increase in the aging population continue to fuel the post-acute care industry. What are your thoughts on public policy in this area as we look ahead?

Morrison: The numbers of those over 65 really begin to increase starting in 2020. The fastest-growing segment of the population today is the group over 85 years old, and this is expected to continue. I think this creates tremendous opportunities and challenges. The post-acute care industry has really suffered under the recent Medicare reimbursement changes. Part of the problem is that we don’t have a clear concept of what our national policy is toward older persons and how we will care for them. Our default policy is Medicaid, to take care of those in nursing homes, which is unsatisfactory. It is not a sustainable plan. The question then becomes, can we build policy instruments, such as long-term care funding systems in the private sector, to alleviate some of the inevitable public burden? And, can we restructure the Medicare system?

Obviously there will continue to be a need for home healthcare, nursing homes and residential living centers. Do you see new entrants to the market?

Morrison: I think it’s about life care. There will be an explosion of opportunities over the next 20 to 30 years, which will involve some existing components, such as home healthcare, and others that will be newly created, because I don’t think that the average baby-boomer’s aspiration is to spend his last years in a traditional nursing home. I think we are going to want to "do everything" until our last breath.

And information technology’s role?

Morrison: Hugely important. You are going to have a bunch of 80-year-olds who have been Net-literate since they were 40, and they are going to look for services to be delivered electronically and, potentially, by very intelligent and sophisticated instruments. Many will also seek social support from communications technology.

Any concluding thoughts to offer our readers?

Morrison: Step up to the leadership challenge. In the final analysis, leadership is about values. It’s important to have a dialogue with people about what they believe in, what they see as the goal and purpose of the organization. If leaders can "connect the dots" in terms of the values and motivations of the organization’s stakeholders, then we can have a better healthcare system.

Ian is Pretty Right On

His analysis in 1999 is pretty spot on: A national public policy system (and so many states' policies) that aren’t anywhere ready for the age wave, new technology and new products, and the need for all of us to step up to the leadership challenge to deliver what a new generation of customers will want (they tell us in the Ecumen age wave study). It’s a cliche, but what a blue ocean opportunity for long-term care. It’s our turn to build the future.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Erickson Senior Housing Commercial

It won’t be a surprise when , one of the pioneers in developing Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), enters Minnesota. They have a lot of appealing features that people would dig here.Check out this Erickson Retirement Communities commercial. It hits directly at what a lot of what people are thinking, … they want something different. What are your thoughts on the commercial?[youtube][/youtube]

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Hospitality Lessons from a Funeral Home

We hear a lot about how people don’t want to move to nursing homes and we’re all familiar with the stereotypes. Funeral homes are another place that aren’t high on people’s priority lists. And they, too, have plenty of stereotypes that aren’t too uplifting. It’s interesting, though, how things can change when you look at things differently. Jim Bradshaw, who founded and runs a number of funeral homes in the Twin Cities, set out to change the perception of funeral homes. He called it setting out to "create a new conversation." He sought to create the IT we talk about, to reposition, to innovate, to create hospitable places and experiences that leave no doubt that you are "WELCOME." When you walk into the Bradshaw Funeral Home in Stillwater, it is bright, airy, there are big windows that look out upon soothing birchtree gardens, there are children’s play rooms, everything is so clean and fresh … people actually get married there. The Bradshaw tagline is: Creating Meaningful Events That Celebrate Life (don’t we do that a lot in senior housing and long-term care?) . And they have a number of interesting "Promises We Keep" that could be tailored for the senior housing and long-term care profession also. Here they are:

  • When you walk through the doors, we promise to welcome you.
  • We promise to make your concerns our priority.
  • We promise to clear explanations and thoughtful answers to your questions.
  • We promise to be generous with our time.
  • We promise to anticipate your needs.
  • If it’s never been done before, we’ll find a away.
  • We promise to follow through on what we offer you.
  • We promise to treat the deceased with dignity and compassionate professionalism.
  • We depend on each other for good ideas and thoughtful solutions. You can too.
  • We promise the value you receive will be greater than the bill you pay.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Welcome to North Branch’s New Neighborhood

At Left, Leah-Killian Smith, leader at The Villages of North Branch is warmly greeted by resident Edna Holmgren during one of the last days of a former county nursing home in North Branch, Minn. Photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune. "This is going to be so different. My new room will be nice. But the rest of the place is so interesting that I don’t think I’ll be spending much time in my room anymore." The above quote by Carole Feakes, who is moving today from Green Acres Country Care Center in North Branch to the new Ecumen community of The Villages of North Branch, really outlines a big difference between the the yesterday and today in our profession. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a very interesting story about The Villages of North Branch, a new senior housing development that will open today. The All-Important IT Factor While The Villages of North Branch is brand new and beautiful, The Villages' success is going to be driven by the team members who create and nurture ITFind out more about IT in this discussion launched by Debbie Manthey. Share your thoughts. IT is what makes the beautiful interior design of bricks and mortar come to life. The IT is what you’ll find today as The Villages team members and community volunteers welcome 68 people to their brand new homes. The IT is IT. Before and After Photos Here are some of the before and after photos from North Branch. One photo you’ll notice is a collage of historic photos from North Branch. The Villages of North Branch feature a number of photos from the Historical Society. What will be particularly neat is that there will be story tellers who live at The Villages who will be able to to share the stories that these photos represent.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

The Graying of the Suburbs

If you get a second, listen to the Minnesota Public Radio MidMorning Show entitled: The Graying Suburbs.

The guests are William Frey, demographer at The Brookings Institute, and Joel Kotkin, author of 'The City: A Global History.'

The show is based on a new study by the Brookings Institution called 'Mapping the Growth of Older America: Seniors and Boomers in the 21st Century.'

One of the many interesting findings we found in our study of Minnesota Baby Boomers is that most boomers want to live their senior years in suburbia or rural Minnesota. The Brookings Institution study parallels a number of these findings.

It also talks about how boomers want to live in their own homes as they age. That underscores the opportunity for aging services providers to expand outside of their own bricks and mortar.