Year in Review: Ecumen's 2014 Milestones are Changing Aging

As we reflect on 2014, one thing stands out – Ecumen really is “Changing Aging.” Our innovative spirit, hard work and great partnerships kept Ecumen in the news, but our greatest success was making life better for our customers, their families and our employees. From the Changing Aging Blog, here’s a roundup of the top news of 2014:

Ecumen Awakenings in the National Spotlight

Ecumen Receives National Award for Excellence in Dementia Care
Ecumen received a national honor March 17 as the winner of the Excellence in Dementia Care Award presented by LeadingAge and EMA at the Great Minds Gala in Washington, D.C. Ecumen received the award for its Awakenings program, which over the last five years has significantly reduced the use of antipsychotics drugs by its dementia residents.

NPR Story Highlights Ecumen Awakenings Approach to Dementia Care
Ecumen Awakenings once again received national attention for its innovative approach to dementia care. National Public Radio (NPR) aired a three-part series on the dangers of medicating elderly dementia patients with antipsychotics drugs. The third segement – titled “This Nursing Home Calms Troubling Behavior Without Risky Drugs” focused entirely on Ecumen.

Washington Post Highlights Ecumen Awakenings
Washington Post Reporter Tara Bahrampour interviewed Ecumen nurses Shelley Matthes and Mara Reyes about the history, methods and success of the Ecumen Awakenings program for a Q&A in the Post.

National Senior Living Publication Highlights the Ecumen Awakenings Program
Senior Housing News (SHN) the leading source for news and information about the senior housing industry, recently highlighted the Ecumen Awakenings approach to dementia care.

Star Tribune Editorial Calls for Awakenings Funding and Expansion Nationwide
A Star Tribune lead editorial on April 5 said Ecumen Awakenings dementia care program is “effective and compassionate” and “should become the standard of care across the nation as baby boomers swell senior ranks.”

Three New Ecumen-Managed Senior Living Developments

Ecumen Collaborating to Bring Senior Housing to Downtown Minneapolis
As out-of-town visitors saw during All Star Week, Minneapolis is a pretty cool place. What it lacks, however, is cool senior housing in a primetime location such as the Mill City Neighborhood on the Mississippi.

Ecumen Opens Its First Senior Living Community in Michigan
Ecumen once again teamed up with Edward Rose & Sons, a Michigan real estate developer, on a new senior living community in Clinton Township, Mich., northeast of Detroit.

Heritage at Irene Woods in Memphis Hosts Official Dedication
Heritage at Irene Woods, a new Ecumen-managed senior living community near Memphis, Tenn., hosted its official dedication ceremony January 10.

Innovation Work on Several Fronts

Ecumen Awarded Grant to Reduce Hospital Readmissions Through Improved Medication Management for Seniors
Ecumen has been awarded a $1.7 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to improve medication management by the elderly as a way to reduce hospital readmissions.

Ecumen Awarded LeadingAge Innovation Grant to Test Dementia Care Light Therapy
Ecumen was awarded a $29,800 LeadingAge Innovations Fund grant to integrate light therapy into memory care units for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).

Ecumen Awarded Grant to Expand Awakenings to Assisted Living Communities
Ecumen was awarded a $265,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to fund expansion of its nationally recognized Ecumen Awakenings dementia care program into its assisted living communities.

Ecumen and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Form Partnership to Address Rural Senior Care Shortage
Rural Minnesota is acutely impacted by the collision of a rapidly aging population and a shortage of nurses in senior care. Ecumen, a non-profit senior housing and services organization, which operates in many rural Minnesota communities, and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities will collaborate to help address that problem through a new workforce development initiative called Ecumen Scholars.

Ecumen Named Top Workplace in Minnesota

Ecumen Honored with “Best Place to Work” Award by Business Journal
The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal named Ecumen a “Best Place to Work” – for the ninth time in the past decade. The award is based on the high marks employees gave in an anonymous survey on topics such as work environment, people practices and how things work day-to-day.

Policy and a Pint® Event Brings Aging Issues to the Millennial Generation

Millennials crowded into a downtown St. Paul bar recently to have a few drinks, socialize and talk seriously about aging.  Yes, you read that right. Aging.

At the Policy and a Pint® event series co-sponsored by the Citizens League and 89.3 The Current, an engaged audience of the relatively young took an evening to focus on aging issues in a session entitled: How are we taking care of Mom?  The Current's Steve Seel and guest panelists, including Eric Schubert, Ecumen Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, led the discussion on how changing demographics are shaping the way we think about aging in the 21st century.

The discussion also addressed issues that people in their 30s and 40s should be thinking about — from "the talk" with mom and dad, to finances, to housing and care options, to transportation challenges, to blended family obligations, to the process of being deliberate about how they want to live during our own golden years.

Listen to the hour-long conversation or download the MP3 or find choice quotes and photos from the event.

Star Tribune's Anderson: More in Minnesota Keep Hunting Into Their Golden Years

The number of elder Minnesotans who are still active soars in 10 years. In hunting, is 80 the new 60?

Read more

StarTribune: Ecumen Joins $27M Senior-Focused Investment Fund

Saturday's Star Tribune Business section featured an article about Ecumen's involvement in a private equity fund that invests in businesses focused on innovations for seniors.

"The fund, called the Ziegler Link-age Longevity Fund, will look for opportunities to take stakes in firms in health management, telemedicine, prevention and wellness and so-called “big data” analysis geared toward seniors. It will not invest in real estate, said Scott Collins, chief executive of Link-age."

Read the full Star Tribune article: "Ecumen Joins $27M Senior-Focused Investment Fund"

Last Week's Top 5 Blog Posts - July 21

Retirement Wisdom, Ways to Say "Older," Minneapolis Project, Gus the Dog, and Aging in Place Survey Findings...

In case you missed out on the latest news, here are the blog posts our online visitors found most interesting last week:

On the Eve of Her Retirement, Ecumen Bethany's Sandi Vatthauer Reveals Her Secreats for Hiring the Very Best Caregivers

Finding a Wiser Way to Say "Older"

Ecumen Collaborating to Bring Senior Housing to Downtown Minneapolis

Gus the Dog Charms Ecumen Lakeview Commons Residents

Aging in Place: High Demand in Search of Solutions

To read more Changing Aging blog posts or to learn more about Ecumen, please visit!






Top 10 Ways for Seniors to Beat the Heat

The summer swelter is upon us and it’s important for seniors to take extra care during the hot and humid days ahead.

Here are 10 tips to stay cool and healthy through the heat:

  1. Stay indoors during the warmest times of the day. Schedule any outdoor activity to the cooler parts of the day, which are usually before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
  2. Stay hydrated by drinking extra water throughout the day - even if you are not thirsty. The Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups for per day for men and nine for women.
  3. Wear lose fitting clothing that is light weight and light in color.
  4. If you are directly in the sun, protect yourself with sunglasses and a hat or umbrella. To protect your skin, use sunblock with SPF 15 or greater while being outdoors.
  5. Avoid strenuous activity and demanding chores, and take breaks from activity every 15-20 minutes to rest.
  6. Close the shades in your living area to keep the inside cool.
  7. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, as they can add to dehydration.
  8. Check on your neighbors and those around you throughout the day.
  9. Find local shelters that officer respite from the heat. Places like the movie theatre, library and senior centers can offer entertainment in a cool environment. Check your local resources to find designated “cooling centers” near you.
  10. Watch out for signs of heat stroke exhaustion or other heat related conditions in yourself and others. Symptoms may include weakness, nausea, rapid pulse, and no or heavy sweating.

Finding a Wiser Way To Say “Older”

When reporter Ina Jaffe started covering aging for National Public Radio, she quickly learned how sensitive older people are about how they are referred to in the media.  This prompted NPR to do a survey to find out what older adults want to be called.

Well, it’s certainly not “senior citizen.”  Only about 12 percent of those responding considered the term acceptable.

The key finding of the survey is that there is not much enthusiasm for any of the terms commonly used.  The winning term — with an anemic 43 percent of the votes — was the plain and simple “older adult.”  The terms “elder” and just “senior” (without the “citizen”) each got a pass from about a third of respondents.

In her NPR report on the survey, Jaffe noted: “The category of dislikes had the most enthusiasm. There were about three and a half times more votes cast for terms that didn’t like than for terms that they liked. And I can sum up the overall response by saying that they disliked pretty much everything.”

And that’s exactly what Ronni Bennett, who refers to herself as an “elderblogger,” found in a survey she did in May.  People are clear about what they DON’T like but are less definite about what they do like. See Bennett’s post for a list of what’s acceptable and what is despised.  The results are similar to NPR’s.

We welcome your comments below.

Ecumen Collaborating To Bring Senior Housing to Downtown Minneapolis

As out of town visitors saw during All Star Week, Minneapolis is a pretty cool place. What it lacks, however, is cool senior housing in a primetime location such as the Mill City Neighborhood on the Mississippi. As a city council member Jacob Frey says, "We need to be a city where people can age in place." 

Soon more seniors will be able to live forever in a community that they love with new housing being created by Ecumen and others in the Mill City District. The Minneapolis Star Tribune and KARE-TV provide a closer look:

"Mill Distrcit Project targets seniors, lower incomes"

"Downtown Mpls. looks at affordable senior housing."

Bodybuilder Creates a Boot Camp for the Elderly and Changes Their Lives

A bodybuilding champion from West Africa, who believes improving the lives of elders is a high virtue, teaches the frail elderly how to get rid of their canes and walkers.  Martin Addo, the two-time winner of the Mr. Ghana bodybuilding championship, has a storefront gym in New York City that focuses on helping elderly clients restore balance, mobility and strength.  See The New York Times story and watch the video below for a testimonial from Addo’s favorite 90-year-old client.