Future of Aging

If You Hated 2020, You’re Going to Despise Old Age: A Nexus Op-Ed

It’s safe to say that none of us want to experience life as it was lived in 2020 ever again.

We missed our friends and family during the era of “social distancing.” In the short term, most of us could handle the loneliness. But as the pandemic wore on, we found that Zoom meetings and virtual happy hours, at first novel and fun, were a very poor substitute for authentic human connection and became tiresome and annoying. We grew frustrated with the monotony of a limited life. Netflix binges, family game nights and jigsaw puzzles eventually lost their appeal.

Most of us are tired of rehashing what life was like during pandemic lockdowns, but there are important lessons to be learned. Sadly, not everyone has the option for a life filled with purpose, autonomy, and variety. What we experienced during 2020 is the life many older adults living alone in their homes or institutional care settings experience every day – both before and after the pandemic. COVID lockdowns gave younger Americans an unpleasant taste of the “medicine” that millions of elders swallow every day.

We learned lessons during the height of COVID that we can — and should — apply to older Americans. The time is now!

What would it take to have older people live where they wish without becoming socially isolated? What would it take for older people to be viewed as valuable members of a society that desperately needs their lived experiences and knowledge? What would it take for those receiving care in congregate settings to have lives filled with purpose, meaningful relationships, and, dare we say it, joy?

Read the full article, If You Hated 2020, You’re Going to Despise Old Age, authored by Nexus Insights’ Fellows Jill Vitale-Aussem, Caroline Pearson, and Dr. Bill Thomas, on LinkedIn, and join the #NexusVoices conversation.

What do you think we have learned? How can we improve the future of aging in America?

About the Authors

Jill Vitale-Aussem, President & CEO of Christian Living Communities, and Nexus Fellow, has over two decades of boots-on-the-ground senior living leadership experience, transforming organizations by creating age-positive, ability-inclusive community cultures of growth, belonging and purpose.

Caroline Pearson’s deep understanding of public and private health insurance informs new financing models that leverage healthcare dollars to fund non-medical support for older adults. Caroline is the Executive Director of The Peterson Center on Healthcare, and a Nexus Fellow.

Dr. Bill Thomas, Nexus Fellow, founder of The Eden Alternative, The Green House Project and Minka is a serial creator of scalable models and an innovator in the field of housing and services for older people. He brings to Nexus his belief that people, properly equipped and prepared, can solve the most difficult problems of living.

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solo aging

Nexus Fellow Sara Zeff Geber Shares Solo Aging Expertise this Spring

Solo aging and retirement expert, Nexus Fellow Dr. Sara Zeff Geber, has been drawing attention to the challenges of aging alone, and urging aging services to address these challenges, for over a decade. With the recent demand for Dr. Geber’s expertise on the subject, it sounds like organizations across the United States are finally starting to listen.

And they should. The statistics show it’s past time to start thinking about solo agers. According to a Forbes.com piece authored by Geber, “Twelve million adults over age 65 live alone. That is 27% of the population–the highest rate in the world. The majority are women. By age 75, the rate of women living alone rises to 44%. With the mobility in today’s society, many family members live far away. Among boomer women, 19.4% never gave birth, so there are no children or grandchildren at all to pick up the mantle of caregiving. These numbers are very different from those of preceding generations.”

If we don’t address the needs of this sizable population, we’re in trouble. Who’s going to help them coordinate care? How will they combat the risk of loneliness and find community and purpose?

Dr. Geber wrote, “Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers: A Retirement and Aging Roadmap for Single and Childless Adults,” which was selected as a “best book on aging well” by the Wall Street Journal in 2018.

If you want to learn more from Geber, the pioneer who coined the term “solo ager,” check out her upcoming speaking events below:

Upcoming Events

Meeting the Challenges of Solo Aging with Sara Zeff Geber – Acacia Creek

April 13, 2023 – Union City, CA

Learn the best tips and tricks on solo aging at the Acacia Creek Retirement Community

  • Planning for a life with meaning and fun after 65
  • Building community later in life
  • How to meet the challenges of aging

It’s Past Time to Think About Solo Agers – 2023 LeadingAge Leadership Summit

April 18, 2023 – Washington, D.C.

Hear from the expert who wrote the seminal book on solo aging, along with a panel of diverse providers and older consumers on how your organization can empower solo adults aging alone to make decisions about their future and thrive while aging solo.

The Panel

  • Sara Zeff Geber, Consultant & Educator
  • Stephanie Chong, Executive Director, Northwest Neighbors Village
  • Karen Zuckerstein, Member, Northwest Neighbors Village
  • Kera Wooten, Executive Director, Westminster at Lake Ridge
  • Jacqueline Evans, Resident, Westminster at Lake Ridge

Solo Agers Are Knocking at Your Door – Leading Age California Annual Conference

May 2, 2023 – Monterey, CA

Solo Agers, adults over 60 who have no children or are aging without family support, will need a community around them as they age. As Solo Agers begin to recognize this need, life plan Communities and other continuing care residential options will look appealing, but will those communities be ready to serve them in a way that supports who they are and who they have been?

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NIC spring conference 2023 - Partnering for the Future

Nexus Insights Convene for the NIC Spring Conference

Nexus Insights will be joining senior housing and aging service leaders in San Diego on March 1st for the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) Spring Conference. Conference sessions will discuss new opportunities that provide better outcomes of care for older adults through more effective integration of healthcare services and senior housing. Anyone in healthcare or senior housing looking to connect, develop long-range strategic partnerships, and innovate new models of care and housing on behalf of older adults should plan to attend.

“Integrating healthcare services with housing is mission critical for a new generation of senior living,” said Anne Tumlinson, founder and CEO of ATI Advisory, and a Nexus Fellow. “It means better care and quality of life for residents, and rewards operators and investors for addressing healthcare spending.”

Several Nexus Fellows are attending the conference including Bob Kramer, Anne Tumlinson, and Sarah Thomas. Nexus friend and alumna, Kelsey Mellard of Sitka, is speaking on one panel and interviewing Dr. Sachin Jain at the Friday morning keynote session.

Want to attend? Visit springconference.nic.org for more information. Already going and want to meet? Ping us or reach out directly to our Fellows.

Nexus Picks

Sessions you won’t want to miss at the 2023 NIC Spring Conference:

Emerging Value Based Care Opportunities for Seniors Housing & LTC Operators
Wednesday, March 1, 2023 | 4:30pm
Speakers:
Anne Tumlinson, Founder & CEO, ATI Advisory
Grant Severson, Vice President, Optum Senior Community Care
James Lydiard, Chief Strategy Officer, HarmonyCares
Brian Cloch, CEO, Cloch Management
Chris Dawe, Acting President, Curana Health Medical Group
Laurie Schultz, Principal & Co-Founder, Avenue

Taking Your Show on The Road: Bridging Care Gaps by Extending Services Into the Community
Thursday, March 2, 2023 | 1:00pm
Speakers:
Kelsey Mellard, CEO, Sitka
Michael Kurliand, Clinical Quality and Integration, MedWand
Peter Longo, Principal & Managing Partner, Cantex

The Trends and Opportunities in Medicare all Types of Operators Should Be Tracking
Friday, March 2, 2023 | 8:30am
Speakers:
Kurt Read, Partner, RSF Partners
Kelsey Mellard, CEO, Sitka
Dr. Sachin H. Jain, MD, MBA, FACP, President & CEO, SCAN Group and Health Plan

 

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Innovation Challenges in the Aging Services

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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Longevity in Aging

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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Critical Resource for Older adults

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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Long Term Care Experience

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 & Post-Acute Care

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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Human Growth and Nursing Homes

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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