what makes innovation challenging

What Makes Innovation Challenging in the Aging Services Industry?

This week we are proud to highlight Nexus Fellow and industry expert, Jay Newton-Small.

In this Nexus video clip, she describes the unique challenges of the aging services industry and why it’s so difficult and complicated to innovate and make a meaningful impact.

“It’s such an inefficient industry and it’s so highly regulated. It’s a very intractable system that requires patience in innovating and ingenuity in innovating that other industries don’t require.”

Challenges for startups coming into the aging services space include selling into healthcare organizations that are under intense pressure due to rampant staffing shortages that have left them in a sustained state of crisis and placed a huge financial burden on them to maintain operations and meet basic regulations. The environment has been one of extreme stress, with little bandwidth or budget to invest in innovation or quality initiatives.

Information security protocols and other legal standards required to access patient data, while critical for protecting patient privacy, are also hard for small companies to meet on limited runways. And current fee-for-service payment models leave little room for innovation in holistic, person-centered care innovations.

“From the get-go, this is regulated in a really intense way, and there’s no way around that. So you have to think through, what is a way that we can innovate here that we can be able to have an impact, but also not harm people, which is a super important thing about health care. And also how can you find a way to make a profit and make your company viable. It’s one of the most challenging areas to innovate in.”

Newton-Small is the CEO of PlanAllies and the CEO and founder of MemoryWell, a tech-enabled patient engagement platform and SaaS that uses Natural Language Processing and “conversational interactions” proven to engage seniors and help Medicare Advantage plans lower churn. Unlike chatbots, MemoryWell uses journalists—or can train callers to interview like journalists using their proprietary software— to create real, effective dialogue with older Americans.

 

As a national journalist, Jay Newton-Small brings a unique perspective to the field of aging, insight into politics and policy, and a media platform. She also brings the heart of a personal-lived experience that led her to found her company, MemoryWell.

 

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Senior friends cooking in kitchen

Longevity in Aging: The Need to Address Healthspan and Wealthspan

People are living longer, and that’s a good thing. It’s not unusual or uncommon for people to live into their 90s. But how is their quality of life? Are they in good health? Can they afford living expenses? As lifespan increases, it is critical we pay attention to healthspan and wealthspan. According to Nexus Fellow Ryan Frederick, CEO of SmartLiving 360, healthspan is “the number of years we live in good health,” and wealthspan is “the number of years we have the financial means to support our desired lifestyle.”

“Advances in longevity create the prospect of longer, healthy lives but will we be purposeful, socially connected, and financially secure over these additional years?” – Ryan Frederick

In part three of the Six Key Drivers Shaping the Future of Senior Living, Nexus Founder and NIC Co-Founder and Strategic Advisor, Bob Kramer, also remarks on the effect longevity will have in terms of where Boomers will choose to live.

“Purposeful longevity means our new customers are determined to thrive,” said Kramer. “They are looking for community and a sense of connection. I call it the ‘engagement’ concept of retirement and aging which focuses on purpose, experience, and enjoyment. Paraphrasing a report by the McKinsey Health Institute, our customers aren’t just looking to add years to their lives but add life to their years.”

So how do we improve the quality of life for older adults?

“Researchers point out that longevity is largely driven by our lifestyle rather than our DNA,” wrote Frederick in a SmartLiving 360 blog post. “By some estimates, lifestyle and our environment account for about 93% of our longevity outcomes. Therefore, we have agency over our longevity. Lifestyle decisions also impact our quality of life.”

Frederick goes on to say, the “key is making sure you are at the right place at your stage in life – and one of the reasons the average person moves a dozen times in their life. An openness to change and the ability to act – however overwhelming it can be – is critical to make sure where you live matches your needs and desires at a given time.”

Read more from Ryan Frederick on the SmartLiving 360 blog.

 

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Caroline Pearson Executive Director The Peterson Center on Healthcare

Caroline Pearson Named as Executive Director for Peterson Center on Healthcare

Exciting news for Nexus Fellow Caroline Pearson. She has been named as the new Executive Director for The Peterson Center on Healthcare.

“Caroline is a gifted leader who never hesitates to roll up her sleeves and do the hard work,” said Anne Tumlinson, CEO of ATI Advisory, and a Nexus Fellow. “It’s been a joy to work with her in various ways throughout her career, and especially as she’s tackled policy challenges in the senior care sector. I know she’ll continue to make significant contributions in this next chapter.”

“Caroline is the perfect choice to lead the Peterson Center,” said Nexus Fellow David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. “She has worked for over two decades to improve the US healthcare system by taking on challenging policy issues. She led our important research on the “forgotten middle” of older adults who are too wealthy for Medicaid but too poor to afford the current mix of senior housing options. I can’t wait to see what she does at the Peterson Center.”

Pearson, who started the new position in early January, is leading the Center’s portfolio of initiatives and grants, to help “transform U.S. healthcare into a high-performance system by finding innovative solutions that improve quality and lower costs,” according to an announcement from the Center. She brings deep policy expertise across a wide range of critical areas, including Medicare, Medicaid, private health insurance, prescription drugs, the Affordable Care Act, and aging issues.

“I am deeply honored to join the remarkable team at the Peterson Center on Healthcare to advance its mission to improve healthcare through lower costs and higher quality outcomes,” said Pearson.

Pearson previously was the Senior Vice President for Healthcare Strategy at NORC at the University of Chicago, a research organization that has broken new ground into the unmet needs of the “forgotten middle” when it comes to affording senior housing. Before NORC, she spent 14 years at Avalere Health as the Senior V.P. of Policy and Strategy, where she worked with Fortune 500 companies, patient groups and other healthcare stakeholders to solve complex business and policy challenges.

“I am so proud of the Health Care Strategy team we have built at NORC at the University of Chicago and the important research that they will continue on issues of policy, aging, and care delivery,” she said.
“We are very pleased to welcome Caroline, whose strategic vision and data-driven approach will bolster the Center’s work to lower costs and improve outcomes in U.S. healthcare,” said Michael A. Peterson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “Caroline’s comprehensive understanding of the complex healthcare delivery ecosystem and her track record of identifying, validating and scaling innovative solutions make her a perfect match for the Center’s mission.”

Read the full announcement at Peterson Center on Healthcare

 

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Portrait of smiling multi-generation family sitting

Caregiving Navigation Hubs: A Critical Resource for Older Adults and their Families

Coordinating caregiving for aging loved ones is a complicated and frustrating task for families. And the problem is growing.

According to a recent article in Next Avenue, “It generally starts with a crisis: Your parent shows signs of dementia…or is about to be discharged from a serious hospital stay…or requires help with daily activities of living. What do you do? Where do you turn? It’s the little-discussed part of long-term care that leaves many of the nation’s 22 million family caregivers for older loved ones bereft and befuddled.”

“We’re failing tens of thousands of older adults and their families,” said Bob Kramer, Founder and Fellow of Nexus Insights.

Nexus Insights is a think tank advancing the well-being of older adults through innovative models of housing, community and healthcare.

In early 2022, Nexus Insights brought together long-term care providers, caregiver advocates, tech-driven startups and policy experts in its first ‘Nexus Voices’ salon to discuss how to help older adults and their caregivers better navigate the complex and fragmented array of long-term care and aging services. The result was a report released in September 2022, “Where Am I, Where Do I Go: The Missing Entry Point to Long-Term Care Solutions for Older Adults and Their Caregivers.

This report was the subject of the Next Avenue article, written by Richard Eisenberg.

Eisenberg spoke to several of the report’s authors, including Anne Tumlinson, CEO of ATI Advisory and a Nexus Fellow. “The primary challenge that most of my peers and friends and family were experiencing was entering into that phase of their lives when they were suddenly thrust into family caregiving roles and feeling like there’s no place to go,” Tumlinson said. “In the best-case scenario they’re getting a hospital discharge planner handing them a long list of organizations who are like, ‘Good luck. Here you go.'”

Caroline Pearson, another report author concurred. Pearson, formerly the Senior VP of Health Care Strategy at NORC at the University of Chicago, and now the Executive Director for The Peterson Center on Healthcare, and a Nexus Fellow. “Unfortunately, most people find themselves in these urgent scenarios that are sort of a call for help unexpectedly,” she said.

In fact, Nexus recently partnered with NORC to conduct a survey on this issue. The survey showed that 1 in 4 older adults needed long-term care services for themselves or a loved one in just the previous 12 months. It also echoed the report’s assertion that caregivers experience frustration and anxiety during the process.

The Nexus Voices report offers a powerful solution, according to the article, “A national, independent, trusted hub system of caregiving navigators who would be accessible to everyone and serve as a central doorway to long-term care services and supports.”

“For every single family to be creating a long-term care service delivery system is very inefficient from a societal standpoint and an economy standpoint,” said Tumlinson.

The solution would have to be national in scope. “There was broad-based agreement [among the salon participants] that creating the kind of awareness to make these hubs as visible as your local drugstore or post office was going to take a national effort, and a level of funding that was probably going to have to be federally driven,” said Kramer.

According to the article, a local example of such a hub was launched earlier this year in Ohio. The NaviGuide program, created by United Church Homes in Ohio, offers these types of services to its 166 clients. The program was inspired by a family crisis for its creator Terry Spitznagel, senior executive vice president and chief growth officer for United Church Homes. Spitnagel said, “I’ve been in senior services for three decades, but I just fell apart trying to help my father navigate the aging journey. I couldn’t manage it.”

The article sees the NaviGuide program as a positive step in the right direction. “If programs like United Church Homes’ NaviGuide are proven financially viable or federal or state governments earmark money for caregiving navigators, you may start seeing these experts pop up around the country.”

In fact, other recent reports echo the Nexus recommendations.

“There are real opportunities to move forward on this,” said Kramer. “But it’s going to take keeping the issue in the limelight and building momentum and seizing opportunities.”

And, the article suggests, “It may also require more people finding themselves thrust into becoming family caregivers or needing to coordinate care.”

Said Tumlinson: “You have to go through it and then be stunned. Then you say, ‘Why is this not being fixed? How is this possible?'”

Read the article at Next Avenue.

Read the Nexus Report
Read the Nexus Survey

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Frustrated woman with laptop

NORC Study Shows Most Older Adults Experience Anxiety and Frustration While Selecting Long-Term Care

Twenty-four percent of U.S. adults ages 50 and older say they, or a loved one needed long-term care in the past year, according to a new, national survey commissioned by Nexus Insights, a think tank focused on older adults. The research was conducted by the well-respected NORC at the University of Chicago. The findings illustrate the widespread need for information and guidance about long-term care services among an aging population and their caregivers, a need that experts say will grow exponentially in the future.

Nearly 1 in 4 older adults said they or a loved one needed long-term care in 2022

 

Related Articles

Most older adults said the process of selecting long-term care caused anxiety (53%) and frustration (52%), while few said they felt confident (23%), at peace (23%), or happy (14%) while making a choice. Researchers say the survey findings suggest a need for more consumer-friendly resources to help families navigate care options.

Anxiety and frustration finding long-term care

 

“Making a decision about long-term care is a maze full of emotional twists and turns, dead ends, and setbacks,” said Robert Kramer, founder and fellow of Nexus Insights. “The lack of a consumer-friendly system to help families navigate the staggering array of decisions that must be made quickly during a healthcare crisis boosts families’ stress. It can result in making decisions that lead to poorly coordinated, lower-quality care.”

According to the survey, older adults said it was extremely important to have additional information about the cost of care and options to pay for it (69%) and the different types of long-term care services available (63%).

Nexus Insights released a report earlier this year detailing the often frustrating and confusing process facing many older adults when making decisions about long-term care for themselves or a loved one. It called for a national long-term care navigation hub to help older adults discover and assess options, educate them on available support and funding, select and connect with the option that is best for them, and continuously evaluate their needs as health and financial statuses change. Kramer said navigation resources are needed immediately to support the aging Baby Boomer population, many of whom not only serve as caregivers to older parents but will soon need long-term care themselves.

“Many families reckon with a long-term care system that’s nearly impossible to navigate and provides little-to-no support for families making life-and-death decisions,” said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at NORC at the University of Chicago, who also serves as a Nexus Insights fellow. “Most people will eventually have to make decisions about long-term care for ourselves or a family member, so creating a consumer-friendly long-term care navigation system should be high up on the nation’s list of to-dos.”

People likely to turn to family for long-term care advice

 

The poll was conducted between November 11 and 14, 2022, during a monthly Omnibus survey. It included 1,014 interviews with a nationally representative sample of adults age 50 and older (margin of error +/- 4.34 percent points). The AARP and NORC’s Foresight 50+ probability-based panel is designed to be representative of U.S. adults age 50 and older.

DOWNLOAD THE SURVEY: One in Four U.S. Older Adults Needed Long-Term Care for Themselves or a Loved One in 2022

READ OUR REPORT: Where Am I, Where Do I Go: The Missing Entry Point to Long-Term Care Solutions for Older Adults and Their Caregivers

 

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Long-Term Care Solutions

Navigating the Maze of Long-Term & Post-Acute Care: A Report by Nexus Insights

When an older adult experiences a crisis that requires post-acute or long-term care services and supports, they and their caregivers must make critical decisions, fast. What awaits them, however, is a maze of dead ends and poor information that stand in the way of getting the help they need.

“Older adults and their families enter a maze of twists and turns, dead ends, and wrong way streets when a life crisis forces them to consider their care options. Critical decisions about long-term care must be made quickly, with scarce information or resources, let alone supportive guidance to assist them in their time of crisis.” – Bob Kramer, founder of Nexus Insights

In February 2022, Nexus Insights hosted their inaugural ‘Nexus Voices’ session with 18 leading experts in the fields of aging policy, long-term care, senior housing and caregiver advocacy to talk through and tackle this issue.

The Outcome: A Nexus Voices Report

The result is the recently published report, “Where Am I, Where Do I Go: The Missing Entry Point to Long-Term Care Solutions for Older Adults and Their Caregivers”. This comprehensive and actionable report highlights the lack of infrastructure to help guide older adults and their families to long-term care services. The report proposes “Navigation Hubs” to help families understand their long-term care needs and select the best options for them. These hubs would serve as central doorways to existing supports and services—whether it’s home-based care, transportation or meal services, senior housing or nursing home care. The hubs would have a national presence but a hyper localized focus with counselors, or navigators, who understand the resources available in their communities and how to help older adults and their families access them.

“The factors that shape care decisions vary from family to family, but all families need an easy-to-use, accessible hub of information that clearly communicates the options that are available to them in their community,” said Anne Tumlinson, CEO of ATI Advisory and a contributor to the report. “With a growing number of older adults needing care, we have to act now to build the care infrastructure families need.”

Discussion participants outlined four primary responsibilities of the Navigation Hubs. They are:

  • Discover & Assess the long-term care needs of older adults, their families, and caregivers.
  • Educate older adults, their families and caregivers on the housing and caregiving support available to them as well as funding sources.
  • Select & Connect older adults with the best long-term care setting, supports, and services that meet their needs.
  • Reevaluate the needs of older adults as their health and financial statuses change.

“You can’t solve a problem until you’ve identified it and defined it,” said Kramer.

“Then you’ve got to define what are the key components of any solution. And we’ve laid that out with the navigation hubs and their four functions. And then we asked what we could learn from the failures and the successes of programs to date, to create our criteria. Finally, the path forward must be a joint effort involving both the public and private sectors. We demonstrated that there are aspects of differing programs from government-funded resource centers to tech-enabled employer options to private-pay models that could be incorporated into this solution.”

An Urgent Problem

In its conclusions, the report urges quick and decisive action to build navigation services for older adults that put families in the center. The family in crisis needs help now and cannot wait for lawmakers and government agencies to overhaul the long-term care infrastructure. This requires a national commitment to increased funding and an openness to reimagine existing solutions. Existing public, private-pay and employer-based programs could work together to make these hubs a reality by combining their infrastructure, experience and delivery models.

The Nexus Voices Participants

Nexus Insights Host Committee

  • David Grabowski, PhD, professor, Harvard Medical School, fellow, Nexus Insights
  • Bob Kramer, founder & fellow, Nexus Insights, co-founder, former CEO & strategic advisor, National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC)
  • Caroline Pearson, senior vice president, health care strategy, NORC at the University of Chicago, fellow, Nexus Insights
  • Sarah Thomas, CEO, Delight by Design/MezTal, fellow, Nexus Insights
  • Anne Tumlinson, CEO, ATI Advisory, fellow, Nexus Insights

Discussion Participants

  • Gretchen E. Alkema, PhD, former vice president, policy and communications, The SCAN Foundation
  • Alice Bonner, PhD, senior advisor for aging, IHI, and adjunct faculty, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
  • Ryan Frederick, founder & CEO, Smart Living 360, fellow, Nexus Insights (facilitator)
  • Lindsay Jurist-Rosner, CEO, Wellthy
  • Ruth Katz, senior vice president for policy, LeadingAge
  • Sean Kelly, president & CEO, The Kendal Corporation
  • Suzanne Kunkel, PhD, executive director, Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University
  • Katy Lanz, chief strategy officer, Personal Care Medical Associates
  • Brian Petranick, group president, Neighborly
  • Cheryl L. Phillips, M.D., president and CEO, Special Needs Plan Alliance
  • Paul Saucier, director, Office of Aging & Disability Services, Maine Department of Health and Human Services
  • John Schall, CEO, Caregiver Action Network
  • Bill Thomas, chief independence officer, Lifespark, fellow, Nexus Insights

Read the Long-Term Care Access Report

Read the full report
Read the executive summary
Read the press release

About Nexus Insights

Nexus Insights is a think tank advancing the well-being of older adults through innovative models of housing, community and healthcare. We are a diverse group of thought leaders and stakeholders in aging and healthcare. Our goal is to spark change by sharing innovation across traditional silos, convening leaders from differing perspectives and bringing positive, life-affirming ideas into the public domain.

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Dr Bill Thomas 2002 PBS interview

Human Growth and Nursing Homes – a 2002 Interview with Dr. Bill Thomas

What can the United States do to make senior housing and the lives of older adults better? This is a particularly hot topic throughout the nation, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19.

A recent report with seven bold, actionable and important recommendations was recently released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. These recommendations, when implemented, will transform nursing home care, to make it person-centered, transparent, affordable, and create living situations that are good for residents, families, and staff.

Where did these revolutionary ideas come from? Let’s turn our calendar back a few decades and spotlight Dr. Bill Thomas, a physician specializing in geriatrics and a visionary ahead of his time. Thomas founded The Eden Alternative, The Green House Project, Minka and is currently the Chief Independence Officer for Lifespark as well as a Nexus Fellow. He has long been a driving force behind the vision that is transforming care for seniors. And he has been putting his vision into practice, piloting his ideas to demonstrate that nursing homes can be places for elders to thrive. We are delighted to have him on-board as a Fellow for Nexus Insights.

In a PBS interview that aired 20 years ago, Thomas said, “There has to be a commitment to ongoing growth…Even the frailest, most demented, most feeble elder can grow…And those words, human growth, nursing home, they’ve never gone together before.”

Thomas explained the inspiration for his ideas. “In the early 1990’s I took a job as a physician at a nursing home…and I fell in love with the work. And I fell in love with the people. And I came to detest the environment in which that care was being provided. The nursing home takes good loving, caring people and plugs them into an institutional factory-like arrangement. And it’s no good. I believe that, when we make a place that’s worthy of our elders, we make a place that enriches all of our lives, caregiver, family member and elder alike.”

“He was right and ahead of his time 20 years ago. He’s still right today. Unfortunately, the tragedy of COVID has revealed how much we devalue the lives of our older adults,” said Bob Kramer, Founder and Fellow at Nexus Insights.

“We need to be concrete about it. If we want to improve life for everybody in our society, one of the very best places to begin is changing how we think about, care for and honor our elders,” said Thomas.

Read the full interview.
See a clip from the PBS 2002 broadcast.

 

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Grabowski at covid nursing home hearing

Problems We’ve Ignored for Too Long: A Hearing on the Impact of COVID In Nursing Homes

“COVID completely devastated nursing homes in the U.S.”

Dr. David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, and a Nexus Fellow, made this statement before a House subcommittee hearing on the impact of the coronavirus in our nation’s nursing homes.

Among the staggering statistics Grabowski shared with the subcommittee:

  • There were more than 1.2 million cases of COVID among nursing home residents, which led to roughly 172,000 COVID-related fatalities.
  • More than 2,600 nursing home staff members died from COVID, “making nursing home workers the most dangerous job in America.”
  • In the aftermath, both resident census levels and staff employment levels were down by more than 10% from pre-pandemic levels.

Drawing on his research, as well as his work on a commission with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Grabowski made recommendations for reform to improve the situation for caregivers and residents going forward.

Grabowski urged policymakers to take a system-level approach to policy reforms to protect residents and caregivers. He emphasized that it is not too late. “We have an incredible opportunity right now to address problems that we have ignored for far too long.”

He proposed recommendations for short-run policies in two areas:

  1. Increase vaccination levels
    1. Extend the federal vaccine mandate for nursing home staff to include booster doses. Currently, only about half of all staff are fully vaccinated.
    2. Provide federally supported vaccination clinics for facilities with lower booster vaccine rates for staff and residents, to ensure that residents and staff have access to a vaccine clinic.
  2. Improve staffing
    1. Introduce a federal minimum staffing standard
    2. Increase staff pay and benefits
    3. Provide opportunities for career advancement
    4. Create a better work environment

“The way the U.S. finances and regulates care in nursing home settings is ineffective, inefficient, fragmented and unsustainable.” – David Grabowski

As a move towards a federal long-term care benefit, Grabowski suggested an approach for locally testing and creating benefit implementation with established criteria to evaluate success. He also emphasized the importance of accurate financial information to ensure payments are adequate to cover comprehensive nursing home care. In addition, value-based nursing home payment models should be created to reward facilities for providing better quality.

Additional panel members of the expert witnesses testifying before the House subcommittee included: Alice Bonner PhD, RN, FAAN; Adelina Ramos, Certified Nursing Assistant and 1199NE member, from Greenville, RI; and Jasmine Travers, AGPCNP-BC CCRN PhD RN, Assistant Professor of Nursing, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

See a video of the full hearing:

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Sarah Thomas new lifestyle membership model

A New Lifestyle Membership Model Development by Sarah Thomas

Early in 2019, before the pandemic, Sarah Thomas led the development of a unique wellness membership offering with partners Transforming Age and Seismic. Thomas, CEO of Delight by Design and a Fellow with Nexus Insights, is an accomplished leader of innovation, with over 20 years dedicated to transforming the aging experience. Seismic designs and produces Seismic Powered Clothing, an innovative fusion of apparel and robotics, designed to reduce muscle strain and fatigue by providing the person’s core with extra power and stability.

In Jan 2019, after taking the stage at CES, the largest consumer electronics show in the world, Thomas announced, “Well ahead in recognizing that wellness is already a dominant American lifestyle value, Transforming Age, a wellness and lifestyle network that serves older adults, is the first industry company to partner with Seismic, in an early-stage membership program designed to offer advanced access of Powered Clothing to people living across the lifestyle brand’s modern retirement communities.”

The VIP membership offered members access to community events, early-access to transformative technologies, expert trainings, and educational programming customized for each member, with a focus on wellness. The program was delivered via an upscale studio, where Thomas and her team created a premium experience-design for each guest in Transforming Age’s Seattle-based brick and mortar studio.

At the beginning of the pandemic, senior living veteran and visionary Lynne Katzmann, founder and CEO of Juniper Communities, demonstrated for the industry the importance of the membership model for committing to a lifestyle of personalized well-being. Thomas and her team at Delight by Design were brought in to do what they do best— design experiences, brands and spaces that delight the consumer at every age. Two years of productive partnership helped launch Catalyst, an exciting new “wellspan” lifestyle program, which was recently featured in McKnights Senior Living.

Other senior living providers are also forging new paths towards promoting a healthier lifestyle, building programs to meet the unique wellness needs of their current and future residents. Essex Communities, for example, is working with Thomas and the Delight by Design team to create an exciting new wellness lifestyle brand. It will be exciting to see more as they enter the market with their new wellness offering.

At Nexus Insights, our Fellows develop new ideas and models for the future of aging services. Sarah is a great example of the thought leadership these Fellows bring to re-think aging from every angle.

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Eco friendly housing for seniors

Two Challenges. One Solution. Age-Friendly and Climate-Friendly Housing.

Our growing population of older adults is facing housing challenges. Creative solutions are beginning to find a foothold. Ryan Frederick, an expert on housing and the role of place in healthy aging, looks at how those solutions could be used to simultaneously address issues of climate change in a Generations Journal article, published by the American Society on Aging.

“As a real estate developer and advisor to real estate developers, I see a valuable opportunity to rise to this challenge by developing communities that appeal to the needs and desires of older adults and incorporate design that is eco-friendly and climate change resilient,” said Frederick, CEO of SmartLiving 360 and a Nexus Insights Fellow. “As a concerned citizen, I know this challenge is urgent.”

Where people live has a big impact on their well-being, according to Frederick. “The best place elevates purpose, social connection, physical well-being, and financial well-being. Place can be designed to support our needs as we age and help insulate us from the perils of climate change.”

But he pointed to a variety of issues that make it difficult for people to age in place, including:

  • Housing that is designed for younger people without mobility issues. The statistics are striking. According to Frederick, “Only about 4% of all housing stock in the United States is suitable for people with moderate mobility difficulties.”
  • Single-use neighborhoods without convenient access to needed services and amenities. “Too much housing requires transportation to get to services and a lack of density makes it inefficient for services to come to the home.”
  • Social disconnectedness. “About half of older adults don’t know any of their neighbors,” he said.

In the article, Frederick offered actionable ideas to help communities address these issues, including:

  • Incentives for incorporating universal design principles in all new housing, which both emphasize the use of eco-friendly materials, and reduce the need for retrofitting as residents in the home age.
  • Housing developments that work for people of all ages, to help foster intergenerational connections, and reduce loneliness across all ages. Frederick pointed out the cost incentive for landlords: vacancies are reduced when older adults can remain in their housing even as their physical needs change.
  • Housing design that reflects the role of the home as a place where people increasingly receive their health care.
  • Choosing locations for housing that are less prone to disasters such as flooding and wildfires and therefore are more resilient to climate change.
  • Designing neighborhoods for walkability. Reducing the need for car travel is both age-friendly and eco-friendly.

“Ultimately, as a society and as individuals, we will be defined by our legacy,” Frederick observed. “How did we positively impact the generations following us?”

Read the full article in Generations by the American Society on Aging.

 

Ryan Frederick, MBA, is the CEO of SmartLiving 360, an Austin, Texas–based strategy consulting and real estate development firm focused on the intersection of successful aging and the built environment. He is the author of Right Place, Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life. He is an Encore Public Voices Fellow, a Nexus Insights Fellow and National Advisory Board Member for Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

 

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