A Senior Housing Forum post brought an issue forward that I’ve been yelled at in conferences for even bringing up!  Resident prejudice against those with disabilities and the SL Industries complacency.  It’s far past time for senior living to just say NO to disability discrimination. Besides being an ADA issue for communities (lawsuits are being filed and won), it underscores a prejudice that SL has enabled for fear that potential residents won’t move in if the “see” frail residents. You would not allow residents to insist that no-one of a different race or religion should be allowed in the dining room so why allow disability discrimination?  I know residents can be very vocal about this issue, but the world has changed and age is no excuse to be inappropriate!

SL can drive change when it: 1- invests in strategic initiatives to create not just socialization, but connection and community among residents of all abilities/disabilities (i.e. working together on purpose-projects in the broader community), 2- makes it clear from DAY ONE that every resident is valued equally and treated equally (i.e. marketing professionals proudly declare how inclusion supports their mission statements), 3- embraces the disability movement model of providing adaptive strategies to overcome disabilities and live fully in-spite of challenges (rather than strategies to merely “cope” with disabilities), 4-confronts disability discrimination head-on with residents, families, and staff (have policies in place to address issues).

I attended the Colorado Alzheimer’s Symposium in Denver last week. I was humbled to see so many professionals learning, collaborating, and sharing their commitment to the well-being of people challenged with cognitive impairment. The Denver association is also involved in a unique collaboration with the Denver Broncos.  What a great way to get the message of help and hope to so many families affected by Alzheimer’s!  www.alz.org/co

Dr. Henry Emmons was the closing keynote speaker.  A psychiatrist who integrates mind, body, spirit and natural therapies, he has forged a distinguished career as an expert in resilience and living mindfully.   I’m looking forward to reading his books; The Chemistry of Joy, and the Chemistry of Calm.  You can learn more about his work at www.partnersinresilience.com

 

 

There is a great video at Real Beauty Sketches (Dove) focused on how women see themselves compared to how others see them.  It really made me wonder what the results would be if this project was done with older adults.  Would they focus on outward signs of aging?  Would others?  I remember when I was in my 40’s and starting to “worry” about wrinkles.  At the time I was directing the Young at Heart exercise program for older adults at MSU, and it occured to me that when I looked at the members – most 70+ years old – I didn’t see wrinkles, I saw smiling eyes and faces of friends.  How would you describe yourself to someone sketching you without looking at you?  What do you see when you look at others? How do images of aging impact self perceptions and perceptions of others.

On October 1st Medicare started to penalize hospitals for patients who are readmitted into the hospital within 30 days of discharge for the same diagnosis. This is initially designed to curb the percentage of Medicare patients who are routinely readmitted for three primary conditions; heart failure (24.7%), heart attack (19.7%) and pneumonia (18.5%). The healthcare industry is tracking all diagnosis readmissions, and bracing for other diagnosis to be added to the penalty list.

There’s no doubt serious issues will arise within this new accountable care environment, one being that some hospitals are choosing not to officially “admit” Medicare patients, instead classifying them as “under observation”. Unfortunately, to the patient there is no clear indication they are just under observation, and many older adults have found themselves with large bills for post-acute rehabilitation stays because since they were never officially admitted to the hospital they are not eligible to receive Medicare reimbursement for rehab services. Be aware and ask for clarification of the satus of any hospital stay.

On the positive side, this is quite simply the biggest boost to the business case for prevention and wellness promotion that I’ve seen in the 20+ years I’ve been in the field of older adult wellness. For the past 5 years I’ve been advocating for senior living to take a leading role in changing the way people view and experience aging. And this is a golden invitation for senior living to become the champions of recovery, re-claiming vitality after a health crisis, and reframing possibilities – regardless of challenges. All the pieces and parts are there – it’s just a matter of claiming that “space” in the healthcare continuum. 

I'm happy to report that the fight against ageism got both a boost and a spotlight last week! I recently co-wrote a chapter titled, Media Portrayal of Ageing, for a book published by the Global Council on Ageing. The book, Global Ageing, Peril or Promise?, was launched at the Global Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland on January 26th, and Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization called it a "must read".

See below (News & Updates) to download a pdf of the whole book or download the chapter Media Portrayal of Ageing. The chapter explores how ageism got a foothold in society and how media and marketing images reinforce negative stereotypes that influence health beliefs and behaviors. It also offers some practical solutions for confronting and re-scripting the negative story of aging.