Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

One of the Good Guys

Media often get a bad name. Dennis Douda (pictured at left) at WCCO-TV is one of the good guys. (For our readers outside of the Midwest, WCCO-TV is the Twin Cities CBS affiliate).

He recently did a story on technology being used at Ecumen. He enjoyed the people he met at Lakeview Commons in Maplewood as part of the story. He is producing a short film called Willie 1.17 that is going to be entered at Sundance and other film festivals. Last week 15 people who live at Lakeview Commons got to participate in the filming of the movie’s closing scene. That was pretty cool, but then according to Wendy Traffie, the leader at Lakeview Commons, there were a couple of other surprises.

Bud Kraehling, (former WCCO-TV weatherman) who is one of Minnesota’s most beloved TV personalities played the main character in the movie. Don Shelby, current WCCO-TV anchor and drivetime radio host on WCCO-AM did the make up and and Dennis and Jeanette Trompeter acted in the film.

Dennis is going to hold a special screening of the movie at Lakeview Commons.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Congratulations to CaringBridge

Technology is such a tremendous opportunity for the senior housing and aging services professionals in helping people connect and learn from each other. The applications are endless -- and they don’t have to be expensive. It’s a great area for our profession to be entrepreneurial. Our Age Wave Study, shows that baby boomers (the next generation of seniors) are all about technology to stay connected. On that note, we want to send our congratulations to CaringBridge, which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. Millions of people have stayed connected with loved ones experiencing injury and illness.CaringBridge began with one person. Today 250,000 people connect on it every day. It’s a product that is all about the power of human connections, people and personal stories. Elements that are in our profession every day and that we can build upon to make even better and stronger. It’s all apart of 'It' that others have been talking about in Debbie Manthey’s post below.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

The It Factor

Debbie Manthey, Director of Operations, Housing Debbie Manthey, Director of Operations, Housing

What is it?
Who has it?Why do they have it? How do you get it?


We are on a mission to assure 'it' is present in each Ecumen Community.
“It” has been described in a variety of ways which all revolve around a feeling. Warmth, engagement, energy, emotion, impression. “It” is how you feel when you are at home or with friends and feel good. “It” has a story to tell. “It” revolves around values and choice. “It” is resident centered and resident driven. “It” is about how you feel about living in your home where you are in charge of your life.

At one of our leadership meetings, Mick Finn, chief of operations, talked about a recent visit to one of Ecumen’s communities, Mick walked in and found residents and staff having breakfast together €“ talking, laughing, totally enjoying each other.

Several other dining tables had not been cleared of dishes. There was no sense of hard schedules or time restraints. It was human beings enjoying each other and taking time with each other. One of the residents asked Mick, “Would you like to sit down and havesome toast and coffee”? Mick felt “it”. “It” is all about culture change. We must transform the way we deliver support and services to our seniors if we want to get “it”.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Senior Housing Development in North Branch

Would you want to live in a place called Green Acres Country Care Center?That is what the county nursing home in North Branch, Minnesota was called. Thankfully, the building that looks like a cold war relic will soon be bulldozed. And North Branch seniors will have a brand new housing option.We have embarked on developing The Villages of North Branch, which will include several small neighborhoods. They will include assisted living, memory care, rehab and an area for nursing care that will be much smaller than yesterday’s institutional nursing home. The four key areas in the community are connected by a town center that will be a central gathering area. It will have a coffee shop, and gathering areas for Rotary, chapel services and exercise classes. The Villages of North Branch will open in July and will be a vibrant community within a community.The Old North Branch Nursing Home Entrance -- Total 1950s Not long ago there were … Ugh… four people to a room, Never again.Gloomy, cramped, loud hallwaysBelow are some photos from The Villages of North Branch, the senior housing development that will replace Green Acres and open in July: A Whole Different Ballgame!

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Global Aging

This aging thing is a global thing. Several Ecumen leaders are joining senior housing and aging services professionals from around the world in Malta at the International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (IAHSA) Annual Conference. A few tidbits on global aging from IAHSA:

  • For most of human history, until about a century ago, the elderly (people aged 65 and over) never amounted to more than 2 or 3 percent of the population. Today, in the developed world, they amount to 15 percent. By the year 2030, they will be around 25 percent. As recently as 1980, the median age of the oldest society on earth (Sweden) was 36.
  • By the year 2030, the median age of the entire developed world is projected to be 45. In much of southern and eastern Europe, it will be over 50. As a whole, the developing world will remain much younger for the foreseeable future. Yet it too is ageing-hence the term 'global ageing.' Several major countries in East Asia and Latin America, including China, South Korea, and Mexico are projected to reach developed-world levels of old-age dependency by the middle of the century.

Want to see some links on discussing aging from around the world? Check this out.We’ll be back next week, have a great weekend.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Future of Senior Housing

Entrepreneur Berry Brunk and blogger (He blogs at Future of Senior Housing) shares a quote from a new study about aging in place and assisted living from the National Investment Center: “The [senior] housing industry (At Ecumen we call it a profession) needs to change its sales and marketing message to place more emphasis on these communities as places that enable residents to get more from life, rather than places to receive care. It is not being suggested that grandiose promises of entertainment and excitement be made, but rather the elements that provide a sense of community, friendship, belonging, enjoyment, fun, education and continuing life need to be stressed more.” The study isn’t available online, but Berry outlines several highlights from it that are interesting to people working to figure out and innovate in senior housing and services. You can also read what boomers are thinking about aging here.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Senior Housing Technology on TV

Kathy BakkenistTechnology is already playing a greater role in helping seniors live independently and giving people more control over their lives and enhancing senior housing. The clip above is a great story about technology in use at Ecumen’s Lakeview Commons senior community in Maplewood, Minnesota.Watch this story on technology being used in senior housing. It is courtesy of WCCO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Senior Housing Suburbia Opportunity

David Peterson has an interesting article in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune about how baby boomers are going to create a senior tsunami in suburbia.What a great opportunity this is for senior housing and service organizations to rethink and reinvent what they deliver to their customers. As Rita DeBruyn, coordinator of the Five Cities Senior Transportation Program, which covers western burbs said: 'Twenty years ago it was subsidized senior dining or card clubs. We’d have 100 people a day gathering to play cards. Today they want to go to Panera Bread. We don’t even do 'senior dining.' And instead of card clubs, it’s Westminster Town Hall Forum, or MacPhail for concerts. They want to be intellectually stimulated.'Yes they do. We in the senior housing and senior living profession have to deliver.

Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Baby Boomers And Work

The Age Wave is coming. And according to this thought-provoking article 'Job Crunch Ahead as Boomers Retire' by Warren Wolfe at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota can’t afford to lose the experience. According to Wolfe:As an aging baby boom generation nears retirement, keeping more older workers in the labor force could ease a tightening supply of skilled workers, boost income tax collections, take some pressure off a shaky Social Security system, and help older people better finance their retirement.We asked baby boomers in our Age Wave Study if they were going to retire at 65. Many aren’t. Many see work as an integral part of their life, not just a paycheck.This becomes especially important for the senior housing and long-term care professions, which are projected to have huge job shortages. Our profession is going to need to find ways to keep expertise. Also, working longer gives people more options as they consider how they want to live as seniors and how they finance long-term care.The Boomer ChroniclesThe Boomer Chronicles is a blog written by a 40-something Boston-based boomer Rhea. She’s writing about boomer life while living it. She updates continually, so always fresh and interesting content.

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More Changing Aging Blogs

Recently we shared top 5 web sites that are changing aging at ProBlogger. We greatly appreciate ProBlogger’s invitation to do this. But there are many more sites that are changing aging beyond the 5 we mentioned and we will continue to share many more them at this blog over time. Here are several others: The Savvy Boomer: A goal of this blog is to unravel personal technology geek speak for boomers and seniors. The Ageless Project: Think blogging is only for the young? Think again. You’ll find a variety of senior and boomer bloggers here. Ageless Marketing: Throw away the cookie cutter. This site tackles myths of marketing to an older consumer. Boomers: Opens the door to reaching a rapidly changing marketplace. Written By Brent Green, author of the book "Marketing to Baby Boomers: Perceptions, Principles, Practices, Predictions." Very few mainstream media tackle aging. No suprise the online community is leading the way. We’d love to hear about other blogs that are looking at aging in a whole different light?