Opened my inbox and found this nice write up of the work I have been doing.
I was interested to see the focus on understanding aging as part of the life span. So often aging and older people are relegated to a strange kind of separateness as if they did not truly belong to the human experience.
The lines below really jumped out at me.
As in adolescence, Thomas said the growth people experience in old age is difficult yet important. But in a youth-obsessed society, evidence that older people grow, albeit in different ways than younger people do, tends to go ignored. There is something vital to be learned in the necessity of aging, he contends. In his book and in his blog, http://changingaging.org/, he argues that everyone in society suffers when elders are kept from reaching their full potential.
In conversation, Thomas exudes the same kind of energy and dynamism that those who interact with him often comment on. In an article in The Wall Street Journal in June 2008, officials at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who met him when he first described the Green House Project to them likened him to an evangelist in his persuasive powers. Jane Isaacs Lowe, overseer of the foundation’s Vulnerable Population portfolio, recalled seeing him at the foundation in 2001 in jeans and Birkenstocks and thinking he could be mistaken for the electrician. But Lowe said she quickly found herself won over by Thomas’ idea that it was time to turn off the lights on nursing homes and replace them with centers where elders could not only subsist but flourish.
Thomas’ ideas and his achievements have attracted attention from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR and other media outlets. In 2005 he was named the AARP Visiting Scholar of the Year; a few years earlier he won a three-year fellowship from Ashoka, a global not-for-profit organization honoring social entrepreneurs, for his promotion of person-centered care; that is, health care centered around the person rather than around the building or the technology or staff.
Jaclyn Harris is president and CEO of Trinity Senior Living Communities, a member of Trinity Health. The senior living organization, with 33 communities across four states serving 35,000 seniors, has educated some 1,500 of its employees in the principles of Eden Alternative; many of its communities are Eden-certified. Harris said Trinity employees decided several years ago that if they were going to stay in the business of long-term care, they wanted to do it differently. In investigating innovative approaches, Harris said she was drawn to Thomas because of his emphasis on the employee, and the relationship between employees and elders as key to building better lives for elders.
“What Eden has really done is to allow individuals to come to work and bring their hearts to work,” Harris said. “The nourishment they get is through the relationships they develop with the elders every day so when they leave it’s not about the tasks they check off every day.”