Blogging from the Proaging event at Vinson Hall Retirement Community

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Blogging from the Proaging event at Vinson Hall Retirement Community

Posted on March 19, 2009

Steve Gurney needs no introduction in the senior care industry: He is a very successful entrepreneur who created the Guide to retirement living which is now a reference in the Mid Atlantic Region and the best resource about senior community offering for families and professionals of the industry – that publication was sold to the Washington Post.

He recently graduated from the Erickson School Management of Aging Services (MAgS) Graduate Program This program is an innovative degree designed to develop leaders in seniors housing and care and aging services.

One day, driving to school, his kids were asking him questions about school and he would them naturally – they trusted his words because they knew that he had gone to school as well. Throughout his career, Steve has been advising and providing information on retirement homes to thousands of people – without knowing what it was really like to move into one of these communities. He realized that he instructs the elderly without knowing what it is like to actually do the steps. This is why Steve decided to move to a retirement community to live the experience!

From there, he had the idea of creating a platform of discussion and push people towards a new way of thinking about the fact of getting old and the way the industry perceives the concept of Aging. As he precisely says: Aging starts at birth.

Before moving in, Steve sent a letter to neighbors describing what he would do and not do, that letter can be found here.

Steve spent a week in the Paul Spring Community and shared his experience through his blog, and tried to immerse himself in the life of a resident.

I had the pleasure of listening about his experience at the Proaging event taking place at Vinson Hall Retirement Community:

Seven P’s of senior living

-Suddenly: he’s filling in an application for himself!
-He sees his furniture in a new room
-He had to do the list of what he had in his house; he could only take 12-13 items – what will you do with the rest? Emotionally attachment to unnecessary items – He won’t need a Crockpot for example
-Importance of memories and to find way preserve to preserve them
-He knows how expensive these facilities are – But now, he paid for it, amount is more than his mortgage!
-Automobile gives the benefit of proximity but in fact suburban neighborhood are very isolated
-Little apartments in communities are actually very good because of proximity to other people and things to do
-Before moving, purpose: work and family – now, this will change. Activities of facility help him find a purpose.
-Helping each other gives a purpose to residents
-No one knows when the end of their life is. Society and the industry have a stigma: communities are for people that are “at the end of their life” – in fact, “we are all at the end of our life, we just don’t know when it is”
-Resident need help to have a purpose.
-Activities secondary, most important: people you interact with.
-Trivia was a history lesson as he learned a lot from other players
-When you move in: it’s like a mandate to make new friends (just like you get to college) not a challenge, actually fun
-Not a senior community, it’s like a neighborhood
-Not about the walls, it’s about the people that live in the wall (Reference to Lock stock and two barrels)
-Going to a college where everybody is a professor
-Positive attitude
-Stay was a weeklong which was perfect and forced him to get outside of his box
-With a positive attitude, you’re more in tune with the community
-Emotion of losing your purpose and having to build a new one – first day was exhausting
-Common experience: transition phase – that establishes a common bond because we’re all people
-Current residents are the best guides in the transition phase
-There are flaws, but way more positive elements

Closing statement:

Facilities are created by people that don’t grow old (like Peter Pan). Anti aging society: It’s not cool to grow old.

If you decided to avoid Aging and live like Peter Pan and move to Neverland, you would look and be like Michael Jackson (horrible picture of MJ in front of his Neverland Ranch)

-He kept in touch with residents and exchange poetry with one lady
-P for Power:
-Power t -leave
-People do stuff for you, they need help in finding their purpose and take power over what they do.
-Experience with the type of facility: notion of power again in the sense that when you are bedridden or wheel chaired, you get t -d -much less
-Healthy body was a limiting factor in the experience
-Stigma of industry: n -one wants t -die in a “old folks home”
-It made him understand importance of marriage and family
-Punch line: “I fully expected t -see something wrong on physical or operation point t -view – but I did not see ANYTHING wrong, what I saw were things I had t -change in my life.”
-What was common amongst all residents? The 7 Ps. Kids together are very much alike, this is not true for seniors (idea borrowed from Dr Bill Thomas)
-Did you feel the effect of Aging: “When I went t -the museum, I saw benefits of walking slowly”

His whole experience is described

He can also be contacted here: Steve Gurney – 703-992-1118 –