Aging in Place Influencers for 2014

Close up image of old man face

Who are we, if not measured by our impact on others? That’s who we are! We’re not who we say we are, we’re not who we want to be – we are the sum of the influence and impact that we have, in our lives, on others.

~ Carl Sagan

 Aging in Place

At the end of each year I think deeply about who influenced me over the past year concerning my purpose of helping others with Aging in Place. This year’s group is different from those of the past because it includes not just individuals, but groups too (including relatives); and there is even a NEGATIVE influencer this year as well. As always I wish to include a disclaimer–the list is not meant to  be exhaustive, in fact, it often falls sort. But if you feel you’ve had an impact and I’ve left you out–please make contact and set me straight!

Aging in Place Influencers: Individuals

Bonnie Moore: She has pioneered shared housing mainly for boomers (female and male). Bonnie gives workshops and has written a guide on starting a “Golden Girls” house as well as launched the  Golden Girls Network, a national matching service that connects people with micro-communities/shared housing. Her Golden Girl Network  solves two pressing problems with aging in place; 1) Costs/ shared expenses 2) Social Isolation / roommates Video Bonnie talks about her experiences

Lesson: Bonnie has shown me that shared housing is a very viable option for aging in place; especially for single baby boomer women.

Louis Tenenbaum: Mr Tenenbaum is the country’s leading authority on aging in place. His thinking on the topic is so visionary and informed by systems thinking that he is in a league of his own. You can read his blog (award winning) and learn how to break down silos plaguing the agenda of a national priority for aging in place.

Lesson: Treat the house as a tool as well as an asset;  LongTerm Care@Home is the best solution for housing America’s older citizens.

George Takei: The famous American actor, director and author, originally known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the television series Star Trek. Mr. Takei was born  April 20, 1937 (age 77). He has brought the term “Aging in Place” to the popular cultural media–a giant step for adoption of the concept with the masses. Video George talks aging in place design with young designers in Austin, TX 

Lesson: Living proof that aging and creativity are not mutually exclusive.

Rosanna Fay: For more than 25 years Rosanna worked in high-tech marketing, she co-founded a mobile and entertainment marketing firm and serving as COO. After balancing this role with the support of her elderly parents for over a decade, she changed focus to become an aging-in-place consultant. The author of Careless Caregivers: True Eldercare Stories, a cautionary tale illustrating the risks of insufficient planning. She has contributed to The Atlantic, Forbes, and writes for The Shriver Report. (Note: Rosanna, Louis Tenenbaum and I will be co-presenting at the 2015 ASA Conference: “Marking Aging in Place in the Entertainment Age”)

Lesson: Entertainment Media is KEY to reaching the $30 Billion Aging-in-place Tech Market.

Aging in Place Influencers: Groups

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP Foundation: These two institutions did the heavy lifting and together created The Report:  Housing America’s Older Adults–Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population. This work is a ground-breaking sober look at what is rapidly becoming our national priority–aging in place. Now the work can begin given that this research-informed scaffolding is available to guide the process.

Lesson: Given the scale of the challenges ahead, the time to act is now.

My Aging Family: My Aunt, Uncle, and Mother are all in their 80’s struggling to stay in the home and community they have lived in for over 50 years. As siblings aging together, they have been there for each other in good times and bad; and now in late life the times are more challenging. They struggle with independence, maintaining some semblance of a prior life as age-related infirmities seems to compile relentlessly. As a so-called “content expert” in the field of aging in place I have struggled to help…There have been many disagreements, tears, and misunderstanding between them, my two older sisters, and myself. You would think having someone in the family with experience and know-how could make the process smoother–think again…As so many of you are now experiencing–aging in place is hard work.

Lesson: I have been privileged to care for and help the aging adults who once took care of me. In their later years they are showing me the courage to grow old with dignity, how to care unconditionally, and I’m learning first hand the struggles (and good times) with keeping your loved ones in the home they love. These lessons will serve me well…

Aging2.0®: Is a global organization on a mission to accelerate innovation to improve the lives of older adults around the world. Co-Founders Katy Fike and Stephen Johnston are tech savvy new comers to the field of aging. They are leveraging the innovations of technology to enhance the experience of growing older. These are the kinds of thinkers gerontology has been lacking in the recent past–outsiders who are creating unlikely parings of young techies with front-line-in-the-trenches gerontologists and caregivers. These mash-ups are the perfect marriage of putting innovation in the hands of users to see what shakes out…And we will all benefit from the cross-pollination.

Lesson: Multi-generational collaboration is not only possible–it’s necessary!

NEGATIVE Aging in Place Influencer This dubious honor goes to a web site that unapologetically plagiarized my entire website and was using it as their own! My name, title, and content–all as if they had developed it themselves. I was forced to take legal action to have it taken down, and within a month they were back up with a new site that had no trace of mine. I did finally get someone in the organization to return a call–they did not apologize and in fact tried to deflect blame to a web designer they employed (really?)!

Lesson: There are dishonest people in our industry, advocate for those you are serving by exposing these people–sun light is the best disinfectant…

Thank you all the Influencing me (good or bad) this year!

Happy New Year, Patrick