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Aging is an Active Verb!

Aging is an active verb!Kudos to Aging Services of California, the state’s non-profit senior housing association, for adopting the tagline above. Anne Burns Johnson, president and CEO of Aging Services of California, said. 'Our goal is to present aging as an inclusive process, not a label placed on the elderly.'This type of positioning, focusing on aging as inclusive (everyone does it) and all about living (even at the end of life) is where the senior housing profession needs to be. We so often in senior housing and in society focus simply on aging as declinism. (I just saw an ad for assisted living. A woman was patting the senior customer on the head. It was so patronizing.) There is so much more to aging than physical decline, but we miss it.Guess what? Seniors still make out, still drive, still swim, still travel, still like to go to great restaurants … . and even when their bodies don’t let them do these things, they are still living. As we look at positioning in the senior housing profession via advertising, interactive communications, direct mail and public relations we and our customers would be well served on emphasizing that 'aging is an active verb.'

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Upcoming Successful Aging Conferences

Two conferences coming up back to back the first week of May that look like they’ll have quite a bit of information related to successful aging.The Minnesota Senior Federation is holding 'To Life': Fullfilling Your Vision for Health, Wealth and Happiness. It’s Saturday, May 5th from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There are several tracks you can take, such as Lifestyles, where you’ll learn about things such as brain fitness. There are other tracks that include financial planning for the life you’ll want and issue areas, such as senior housing. The keynote speaker will be Bowen White, M.D., a humorous, insightful speaker who has been featured on CBS This Morning and the Wall Street Journal. He’ll discuss 'living fully.'HealthPartners is holding a conference called Forever Young: Baby Boomers Reinvent Retirement on May 4th at the Holiday Inn Metrodome in Minneapolis. Objectives of the conference are- Define the impact Baby Boomers will have on the future of healthcare.- Discuss the most current treatment strategies in treating the Baby Boomer with endocrine, heart, and depression issues.- Evaluate the benefits of healthy lifestyle and quality of life.- Discuss coping mechanisms to utilize in midlife and beyond.- Identify the physical, emotional, and psychosocial issues the Baby Boomer faces as they mature.

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Larry King Celebrates 50 Years of Chatter.

Larry King, the CNN talk show host, is celebrating his 50th anniversary of interviewing some of the biggest names. Work is an integral part of Larry’s life. Like the baby boomers in our Age Wave study, Larry King is going to continue doing what he loves: his work. At 73, Larry has no plans to retire.

He’s changing aging and there will be many more like him who continue doing the things they enjoy as they get into their 70s, 80s and beyond. That is going to cause advertisers to get with it. Several years ago USA Today dropped Larry’s column because of 'demographics.' What they meant was that Larry was too often writing about people such as Frank Sinatra who was no longer alive.

Larry asked this question in an interview with Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Neal Justin. The Larry King profile is in today’s paper. '[On Larry King Live], there’s a lot more emphasis on whether we’ll appeal to people 25 to 42. I still don’t understand that if a guy is 65, gainfully employed and last year bought a Cadillac and this year might be thinking about a Lexus or a Lincoln, why we don’t want him?'

Smart, effective advertisers will put agesim in a box and bury it forever.

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What Good is a Law if Nobody Knows About It?

Posted by Kathryn Roberts, CEO and President of EcumenWhat good is a law if people don’t know about it? It’s a question I had today when I heard news of a baby born in a Twin Cities suburb, who police say was stabbed 135 times and then placed in a garbage can. A state program is set up to prevent this type of tragic incident. Called the Safe Place program, it allows a mother to leave an unharmed newborn up to three days old at any hospital in the state anonymously and without fear of prosecution. Unfortunately few people know about the law.Vermont has received a great deal of press nationally for its 'Choices for Care' program, which allows people who qualify for Medicaid to use dollars to pay a loved one to provide care at home rather than in a nursing home. In our Age Wave survey of baby boomers, nearly 90% of Minnesotans said this is a good idea.Guess what? We already have a version of it in Minnesota. It’s called Consumer Directed Community Supports. According to the Department of Human Services, 120 people are enrolled in it. It could be a great tool for vital, successful aging. But how do people use it if they don’t know about it?As we face an unprecedented age wave, we have to look beyond senior housing and look at ways to keep people where they want to live. This could be one such tool.

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Connecting Senior Housing Development to the Larger Community

Posted by Dana Wollschlager, director of real estate developmentLuther Park of SandpointA number of us had a tremendous opportunity to meet some new Ecumen customers yesterday: Pastor Dave Olson of First Lutheran Church in Sandpoint, Idaho and Norm Sommerfeld, who is chair of the First Lutheran Church board of directors. We are working with them to create a new senior housing development connected to First Lutheran Church in Sandpoint and they were touring Ecumen communities in Maplewood and one being built in North Branch.It was very refreshing to hear Pastor Dave talking about this development as a way to 'build community.' Not just a community for seniors, but one that is multi-generational and helps build bonds between the youngest of the congregation and the oldest. Baby boomers told us in our Age Wave Study that they want amenities such as places of worship nearby. We applaud Paster Dave, Norm and the entire First Lutheran congregation for their vision and commitment to vital, successful aging and looking at the synergies that can occur between senior housing and the larger community.

First Lutheran Church of Sandpoint, Idaho Enters into Senior Housing Development Agreement With Ecumen
SANDPOINT, IDAHO €“ First Lutheran Church of Sandpoint has joined in a development agreement with Minnesota-based Ecumen, one of the country’s largest Lutheran senior housing organizations, to create a new senior community connected to First Lutheran Church. The development, called Luther Park at Sandpoint, is anticipated to break ground this fall. “This exciting new initiative will contribute greatly to a vibrant faith community that people can call home their entire lifetime, while serving greater Sandpoint by expanding housing options for our area’s seniors,” said Pastor Dave Olson of First Lutheran Church of Sandpoint. “We’re greatly looking forward to expanding our ministry and helping meet the growing housing and service needs of Sandpoint. “The vision for this community began nearly a half century ago when First Lutheran moved from 5th Avenue in downtown Sandpoint to its current 6 1/2 acre site at Olive & Ontario,” said Olson. “While Luther Park at Sandpoint will be €˜not for profit’ and affiliated with the Lutheran Church, we welcome and look forward to serving people of all religious backgrounds.”“This new community will encompass so much of what our customers are saying they desire, including services and technology that enhance people’s independence, close proximity to their place of worship, nearby shopping and on-site healthcare,” said Dana Wollschlager, Ecumen’s director of real estate development.“Our focus is on creating a community that the First Lutheran congregation, its neighbors and all of Sandpoint will be proud of.”The three-story senior housing development will have 60 residences including a mix of 1- and 2-bedroom floor plans that range in size from 571- to 967-square feet. A number of residences will provide views of the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains.The development will include catered living, which provides a variety of health and personal assistance services as well as suites specially designed for memory care and enhanced assisted living care. Among the community’s amenities will be an indoor link to the church, grand fireplace gathering area, library and media center, community meeting rooms, a beauty and barber shop and walking paths.Independence-enhancing technology, such as QuietCare, also will be featured at the new Luther Park community. QuietCare is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day a week wireless system that helps residents, caregivers and family members identify small health problems before they grow into larger ones. This technology has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and on the CBS Evening News.First Lutheran Church of Sandpoint,which has 778 members, is located at 526 South Olive Street. It is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and serves the community through a variety of ministries.

Ecumen also is an affiliate of the ELCA and is based in Shoreview, Minnesota. One of the country’s largest non-profit senior housing companies, Ecumen works to create “home” for older adults wherever they choose to live.


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An Opportunity to Change the Way We Think About Aging

Ecumen CEO Kathryn Roberts had an op-ed published in today’s Saint Paul Pioneer Press on preparing for the age wave. The text follows:Herb Carneal was a wonderful person and announcer, and also a role model for vital, successful aging. His family and friends were always near. He embraced his work. And he lived and died where he wanted - at home.At Ecumen we’re vested in helping more people live as Herb did. To help get there, we recently commissioned the largest survey of Minnesota baby boomers - the biggest tide of the coming age wave - to see how they foresee living as seniors. Their opinions reveal astounding opportunities for leadership in reinventing aging and paying for the freedom we desire.Money-saving flexibility: Vermont’s nationally acclaimed 'Choices for Care' initiative lets Medicaid - assistance for the poor - pay for home care, which averages $20,000 annually in Vermont versus $40,000 for a nursing home. Nearly nine of 10 boomers (89 percent) embrace the initiative. (Interestingly, about three years ago Minnesota began a similar program. Few know it exists. The unwieldy 'Consumer Directed Community Supports' program is buried deeply in the Department of Human Services Web site, where it says about 120 people use it. Inquiring about it, a colleague received an 88-page booklet. Let’s seize the opportunity to simplify this and remove it from the closet. If it’s hidden because of costs, let’s say so and build something better.)Wired for freedom: Boomers love on-demand tech tools. In fact, 92 percent expect technology to enhance their independence as seniors. Take, for example, digital sensor technology. It unobtrusively learns a person’s daily routines and sends 24/7 motion updates to a caregiver’s or family member’s computer or cell phone. It helps spot small health issues before they expand in complexity and expense. It connects people across distances and gives caregivers and physicians data earlier. Two years ago, six early adopters piloted this for us in Maplewood. Now 600 of our customers use it.Ireland, seeing aging as an economic opportunity, recently joined Intel on a development center to create proactive digital technologies that help European seniors live how they want to live, where they want to. Minnesota could step ahead if we used our ingenuity to develop such technologies here.Better payment options: Don’t like the phrase 'long-term care'? Most boomers don’t, either. So why do companies try selling difficult-to-understand long-term care insurance? Few buy it or trust it. Boomers want more flexible hybrid products, such as life insurance that could be tapped for care if needed. And nearly 100 percent of boomers we surveyed want a simple point-and-click Web site to comparison shop for state-endorsed savings and payment options. Boomers see these as keys to living life how they want to, rather than one-way tickets to a nursing home. Products emphasizing that aging is about living - even toward the end of life - will create a better market-government balance and allow more independence. But thinking differently will also improve the safety net for those in need.Downtown development: Most boomers point to rural or suburban communities as their ideal retirement location. Only 10 percent say the urban core is where they want to be. But, with foresight, the age wave could benefit St. Paul as much as the river current has. Boomers want nearby health care, transportation, worship places, shopping, education, fitness and multi-generational living. St. Paul has many of these dots, and light rail could connect more.In Chicago, the Franciscan Sisters and Loyola University built The Clare at Water Tower to bring people downtown. This isn’t sterile, cookie-cutter housing. Architecturally stunning, it houses college classrooms, a performance center, day spa, rooftop terrace and restaurants. Called a life-care community, it also has memory and hospice care. A person, in return for an entry fee, never has to leave, even if his or her assets are depleted. It’s a new, successful entrepreneurial product based on the idea that aging is an active verb.Minnesota’s 1.5 million baby boomers are sounding a declaration of independence. It’s a human desire. And we can meet it if we lead in changing aging.Kathryn Roberts is CEO of Shoreview-based Ecumen, which is Minnesota’s largest nonprofit senior housing and services company. Read the full Ecumen Age Wave Study.

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Caught in the Middle

Interesting MSNBC article called 'Caught in the Middle' on the Sandwich Generation today shared with us from Ecumen’s Nicole Behm-Koep.Aging has so long been framed as something that impacts only the old. But here’s a story of a baby boomer caring for children and a parent who has dementia. In addition to those two full-time jobs she has another job outside of the house. Although it’s not explicitly said in the article, you can see how caring for senior parents connects to the workplace (time missed due to a parent’s needs), housing (a parent who doesn’t want to live in a nursing home and instead moves in with a son or daughter), transportation (helping Mom get to her morning care program) and a host of other areas that at first glance don’t seem to have anything to do with aging. As we advocate for changing aging as a profession, we have to start showing how aging is tied to so many other areas of our society. And what we do or don’t do … impacts many more people than seniors. Aging is about all of us.For more on this subject as it relates to caregiving, check out the research by the National Alliance on Caregiving.

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Aging Services Leaders Talk Wellness

Posted by Jessica Drecktrah, Director of Special ProjectsPreliminary findings of the “National Whole-Person Wellness Survey,” sponsored by Mather Lifeways and Ziegler Capital Markets Group can be found within the current issue of Nursing Homes Magazine. This survey looks at how nearly 100 leaders within aging services envision of the future of wellness programming for vital, successful aging.One of the merits of this particular survey is that it gives a snap shot view of how aging services professionals are developing programs along the six dimensions of wellness (i.e., physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and vocational). Currently, most wellness program opportunities exist along the social, physical, and spiritual dimensions. Respondents, however, see a different future ahead for programs aimed at the vocational, intellectual, and emotional growth dimensions; particularly in the areas of support groups, counseling opportunities (peer to peer and mentoring), educational programming, and volunteer opportunities.Furthermore, respondents note that aging services professionals have become motivated by the wellness initiative to make large changes within the physical plant. Currently, the majority of communities have exercise rooms, activity/game rooms, and libraries, the “traditional” staples of wellness space. Moreover, many communities have formal dining areas and formal space allocated for worship use. Coming up within the next five years, consumers will see more and more senior housing with spa treatment areas, café/refreshment areas, and pools as part of a much different type of senior living.

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Evercare 100 at 100 Survey

The 'Evercare 100 @ 100 Survey' is a new survey of centenarians that looks at keys to successful aging. What’s particularly interesting is that a number of the people in the survey use technology, such as the internet and iPods. It again breaks down these stereotypes that seniors can’t or won’t use technology. Also when you look at how baby boomers use of technology in the Ecumen Age Wave Study it becomes abundantly clear that technology is going to be a big part of our profession. We’re just hitting the tip of the iceberg in using technology to help seniors live better and more independently. With the coming age wave, shortage in caregivers, and people’s overwhelming desire to live at home for as long as possible, we have to unleash the full potential of technology. As part of that effort, Minnesota’s Sen. Norm Coleman has launched an interesting bill that should be a broad bi-partisan effort.