University Learning Classrooms meet Innovation on the Activity Calendar

It's been a while since  put something down on this page.  I hope all of you had a fun and relaxing summer.  Here at advantagedotlife we've had the good fortune of taking the summer off and with my recent move to the Seattle area and now settled in, I'm realizing it's probably time to get back into gear.

As I've been networking in the Seattle area and  learning more about senior living south of the border, I have found a wealth of innovation and inspiration from talking with owners, operators, employees and executive directors.   I will be writing about all this innovation in future entries;  from creative storytelling with Maxine Lennon , Timeslips founder Ann Basting  to the University of Washington's recent Elderly Friendly Futures conference there is truly a wealth of research and best practices to learn about and pass on to colleagues around the world.

This last week I was  excited to learn about innovative ways that senior living operators are stretching the education band to include on and off campus learning opportunities.   Two senior living developers in particular caught my attention recently: 

Era Living  is well known for its unique partnership with UW here in Seattle and Village Concepts has turned some of its residents into "university" students working toward a degree.   Here's the article showcasing Village Concepts

Enjoy the Autumn Season- this is a truly beautiful time of year!!





Creating Family-oriented Spaces in Senior's Housing

Those of us working in the senior housing industry regularly hear about the 'features' to attract residents, families and friends to the community.  From new menus, re-arrangement of eating and dining areas to the benefits of a range of value add type activities,  these 'features' are designed to make for enhanced living, better quality of life and of course meet occupancy targets.  However, getting back to family values is still, in my opinion, the best 'feature' to include in retirement communities while improving all values both intrinsic and financial.

Sarah and I developed the first intergeneration curatorial initiative back in 2000 at Burnaby Hospital, BC Canada by bringing elementary and high school students together with professional artists into long term care.  The multi-generational experience meant that students and seniors interacted on an intimate level and the result was of tremendous environmental, emotional, social, and spiritual benefit to all.  Not to mention a first senior art exhibit that toured BC and is still on display at the hospital.

Fast forward to 2015 and the 'feature' is intergenerational programming.  Yes, most of us have heard about the benefits but operators and GM's still appear somewhat reluctant to embrace the value of "putting kids at the core" (as quoted by COO Lori Alford Avanti Senior Living).  And somehow there is a reluctance to create sustainable intergenerational programs and communities.  It's really not a difficult task - just ask us!!   And the benefits are numerous!!

Senior Housing News recently interviewed Lori Alford, COO Avanti Senior Living and her vision is certainly an inspiration to all of us 'in the know' relative to the benefits of intergenerational community.    The Woodlands, a Texas-based Avanti Senior Living has developed a new family-oriented program that will begin when the Assisted Living and Memory care provider opens it first community this summer.  In fact Avanti Senior Living will roll out the program at all of its six communities.  

How the program works is that children will be able to check out iPads and enjoy kid-friendly food and drinks, and enjoy indoor and outdoor spaces that have been included in the project design and construction.  Can you see all the possibilities?

Let's see - Grandparents Day in September moves over to not just 1 celebrated day in the year but is included during every week of the year,  education curriculum is enhanced and classroom work moves into the communities, playtime is expansive and the sense of well-being and motivation for the seniors is well, priceless.   Talk about resident satisfaction!!!! 

Sarah and I have been bringing intergenerational programming to retirement communities since 2000 and it's exciting to see that more developers are catching on (or dare I say catching up).   Our upcoming e-newsletter will feature a provider who is doing something similar on the West Coast - stay tuned as we describe what it takes to ramp up resident satisfaction and ultimately achieve lasting and sustainable value -  residents, children, families and staff happy and fulfilled in their work and living environs.

A Novel way to address social isolation for low-income seniors

There seems to be a lot of focus on the art of aging. If people are healthy, active and engaged as they age, then it is not that difficult. If finances are under control, those who age have more options to remain engaged with their communities, managing to get out and attend concerts, talks and other activities that keep their minds, bodies and spirits active. However, for those whose income is low, aging is more difficult. How do people who cannot manage on their own care, yet cannot afford to move into retirement communities where care is provided, remain active and socially engaged? How do they maintain their social network and not feel lonely?  

Beacon Hill Village in Boston allows people to stay in their neighbourhood and enables them to take care of themselves, while providing choice and control over decisions as they age. It is a wonderful project and is innovative and engages seniors who live in the community. 

Another project in New York serves those whose income is even lower has begun in. Through a broad volunteer base, there is a move toward new kinds of "kinship relationship" that offer opportunities  for seniors to remain in their own homes with services brought into them.

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However, for those who cannot afford the minimal fee 



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Dementia Village

This article reflects a shift in the way we care for those living with Dementia and Alzheimer's Diseases. In our changing society, we need innovative ways to offer a dignified way to live with these diseases. This village in the Netherlands is the first of it's kind, but thankfully, the "new world" - Canada and United States - is learning from this and villages like this are beginning to appear: there is one in Ontario Canada that has just opened. 

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the advantAGE of music to enhance memory

Oliver Sacks has written a lot about the advantages that music has on memory and brain health. Since his book Musicophilia was published in 2007, there seems to be a wave of information about the benefits of music on the health of older people, people with neurological disorders and diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

What follows is one article that sheds some light on the benefits of music in enhancing memory.

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Join our conversation and please send us links that you have found on this subject.



Social Isolation

I was asked to submit an article to ProStory on a project that used the arts to create community. What follows is one example of some intergenerational programming that I designed in Ireland. This example of community engagement involved senior residents, staff and youth from neighbouring schools. It took time and commitment but the result was rewarding for all and expanded the knowledge of the youth around aging and inclusion. Have a look . . .