Embrace Living Communities sent team members to the 2021 LeadingAge Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta, Ga. in October to learn about best practices for aging in place and how LeadingAge can be a resource.
Two of those team members were Juanita Boehm, Manager at Greencastle of Loves Park, and Margie Michalewski, Manager at Greencastle of Barrington. At the LeadingAge conference, they learned about topics such as community, diversity and advocacy.
A point of discussion was the importance of leveraging communities when trying to solve problems. This includes the LeadingAge community and its committees.
“There are so many resources out there, and we forget that each of our communities is a resource, whether it’s LeadingAge or the many committees they have,” says Boehm. “What amazes me is we’re not alone.”
LeadingAge acts as a resource by providing tools to professionals who care for seniors that help guide their care approaches and best practices. This includes opportunities to talk to other professionals about their experiences and share ideas for how they can improve, ideas that have helped Embrace Living staff stay fresh and build new tactics around how they can inspire community within their properties.
The resident community also acts as a community that can be helpful in problem solving. Boehm says she’s made a point of including her residents in working toward solutions that affect the whole community, which in turn gives them a sense of ownership and pride.
One event that Michalewski appreciated at the LeadingAge conference was Inclusion Night, a social event where inclusion was put into practice by allowing people of different backgrounds to come together and talk. It reminded her of the sense of diversity and inclusion she feels at her own community where she says people are accepting of each other’s differences.
Boehm has seen the same thing play out at Greencastle of Loves Park where non-English speaking residents have been embraced. “I have seen a lot of diversity recently, and I love that residents are willing to help each other out even if they don’t speak the same language. English-speaking residents have gone out of their way to help non-English speakers acclimate, learn the rules, get answers to their questions and even set up their internet. In return, I’ve seen these new residents return the favor by helping out in any way they can.”
When diversity is celebrated, everyone feels included, and multiple backgrounds, ideas and perspectives create a more interesting, beautiful and whole environment for everyone, from residents to staff. An event like LeadingAge reminds attendees how important it is for residents to see themselves within their communities. It also reminds attendees to facilitate events where they have space to express their true and authentic selves.
Advocating for Seniors
Advocacy is a large part of what LeadingAge does, advocating for them at the national setting and supporting members to advocate for themselves.
“[LeadingAge] keeps us informed as to issues we need to be thinking about,” says Boehm. “They also provide us with ways we can advocate for ourselves. Whether it’s financial, physical or anything like that, they’re aware of the issues, they make us aware and we’re in turn able to act for a better outcome.”
“We get the latest news about what’s happening with subsidized housing, if there’s a new law or measure going into effect…” says Michalewski. “Throughout the pandemic, they’ve been great about keeping us informed about what’s going on and what we can be doing to better take care of residents.”
Both Boehm and Michalewski left the conference with a sense that LeadingAge is working to invest in them and their ability to manage their respective communities.
Learn more about Embrace Living’s communities, where they are always aiming to integrate best practices and apply learnings from sources like LeadingAge: https://embraceliving.org/our-communities/
“LeadingAge represents more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers and other mission-minded organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we use applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building to make America a better place to grow old.” (From https://leadingage.org/mission-vision-values)
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