"Second Wind" Tour Promotes Graceful Aging

Published: Thursday, April 03, 2014

Lutheran SeniorLife proudly sponsored Dr. Bill Thomas, gerontologist, author and leader in the Culture Change movement for older adults, and his Second Wind Tour at the New Hazlett Theater in Pittsburgh on April 1. Dr. Thomas’ book, “Second Wind: Navigating The Passage To A Slower, Deeper, And More Connected Life,” outlines how to recognize and navigate through what has the potential to be the most fulfilling time of life – elderhood.

Dr. Thomas’ views of elderhood as an honorable and valuable position in our society mirrors Lutheran SeniorLife’s mission provide an Abundant Life® for our residents by fostering a climate of person-centered care.

In the opening monologue of the show, Dr. Thomas explained that adults are living in a ‘hyper-caffeinated’ world, where we are led to believe that we are only valuable when we are being productive, and that once we slow down to enter elderhood, we lose our worth in society. “Baby boomers are on the verge of entering elderhood and they have no idea what is yet to come,” Dr. Thomas said, “but there is life beyond adulthood!”

“I think that leaving one’s youth behind is, and has always been a painfully difficult thing to do. This is doubly true for those who experience aging in a society that worships the virtues of youth. I think that a deeper investigation of life and living can reveal the hidden virtues of age. Outgrowing adulthood is worthwhile in large part because the attendant difficulties (emotional and physical) can lead us toward slower, deeper and more connected ways of living,” Dr. Thomas said.

Dr. Thomas is the creator of The Green House® model of senior living, which he feels can improve the lives of seniors by providing high quality clinical care in an actual home designed for just 10-12 residents, each with private bedrooms and bathrooms, but common spaces for socialization and dining. Residents here receive person-centered, relationship-based care 24 hours a day. Lutheran SeniorLife is considering an opportunity to build Green House homes on the site of the former Aliquippa Hospital in Beaver County. They will be available for LIFE (Living Independence for the Elderly) Program enrollees needing nursing care and others throughout the community who are deemed nursing home eligible by the Area Agency on Aging. The homes will be the first of their kind in western Pennsylvania, and the first in the nation to partner with a LIFE Program.

“The cinderblock walls of the institutional nursing home are holding us back,” said David Farrell, senior director for The Green House® Project, and show participant. “These homes grow people. They generate and sustain genuine human warmth. Elders that have shut down come back to life here,” Farrell said, because they are made to feel at home, like they are a valued part of a family. “If you change the architecture, you change the thinking of the people who live inside.”

The Second Wind Tour also featured other speakers including Janet Taylor, M.D., MPH; Joseph Angelelli, Ph.D., director, Health Services Administration, assistant professor School of Nursing and Health Sciences, Robert Morris University; and Mary Lorson, writer and performer. Musical entertainment was provided by Samite Mulondo, founding director of Musicians for World Harmony.

Dr. Bill Thomas wore stilts through part of the performance as a visual representation of the knowledge and wisdom we gain in elderhood.

Musician Samite Mulondo of Musicians for World Harmony was joined on stage by show participants Mary Lorson, David Farrell, Dr. Bill Thomas, Janet Taylor, Dr. Isabela Angelelli and her son Santiago, and Joseph Angelelli, Ph.D.

David Fenoglietto, president and CEO of Lutheran SeniorLife with Dr. Bill Thomas

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