Mr. Gray in the Garden of Eden

Mr. Gray in the Garden of Eden

Okay, no Adam and Eve eating the apple stuff here. Sorry.

But I do wanna talk to ya’ll about the The Eden Alternative. Raise your hand if you’ve heard about this?! Didn’t think so. Not your fault doh, but it is a shame because because BECAAAUUSE, because of the wonderful things The Eden Alternative does!

First, lemme show you why Mr. Gray views today’s senior facilities (nursing homes, assisted living facilities, etc.) like you view mushy peas. BLAND & GROSS! These places make Mr. Gray feel lonely, bored, and helpless. I mean, total sad face :o((((((((( Why? Because a few years in a senior facility is NOT a trip to Disney World. Personally, I envision the “Walking Dead.” This slideshow will show ya why (click on the pics to swipe right):

I mean, it’s just depressing…and not a place me, you, OR Mr. Gray wants to be.

I could go on explaining why Mr. Gray kicks and screams when someone says “it’s time to go to a nursing home”, but you guys get it. AND. Despite what you might think, it doesn’t matter if the place has crystal chandeliers and 25,000 activities OR if it’s an outdated inner city facility that smells of urine (sorry I know that was a bit TMI but it’s true). It might SEEM that Mr. Gray is better off when things are fancypants, but that’s not necessarily the case.  You know that saying “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig”? Well that’s what these fancy facilities are — a beautiful cover up for the misery that lies beneath. And Mr. Gray sees right through it (he’s so keen like that ;o))

So, why is it that these places (dingy or gorg) that cost a fortune make Mr. Gray feel so blue? It’s because they were created based on an institutionalized model. Translation: They look, feel, and operate like a hospital/psychiatric ward/scene from “The Shining” aka not a home. The whole thing is just SO OLD SCHOOL. But without Will Ferrel. I mean it’s not the 1930’s – time to change the model people. For example, check out this nursing home that looks like a scene out of Grey’s Anatomy:

Nursing home? Hospital wing? IDONTKNOWITALLJUSTBLENDSTOGETHER

Nursing home? Hospital wing? IDONTKNOWITALLJUSTBLENDSTOGETHER

Not only does the layout still mimic hospitals with long ward-like hallways, but the care is also based on the staff’s convenience. It’s like if you paid for a week stay at a 5 star resort and the staff were helpful, but told you when to eat, sleep, drink, move, etc. UHHH REFUND PLEASE! Here’s the gist of it:

It’s all about keeping the residents alive and from falling, but it’s not about true physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.  

Sure, Mr. Gray can attend Friday night “game nights” and a Sunday sing-a-long, but that does very little to compensate for the failings of this archaic model. These facilities just focus on keeping him alive (with a little fluff on top). But survival is not happiness. It’s not fulfillment. It’s not enough for us as young adults, middle ages adults, and it’s STILL not enough for older adults. It doesn’t matter if he can’t walk anymore or he has dementia, Mr. Gray still has the potential to live life.

And this is where the Eden Alternative saves the day!!! [Cue inspirational comeback music]. Essentially, it’s a philosophy that attacks head on that loneliness, hopelessness, and boredom that Mr. Gray feels. Everything that an old school facility does, well it does the opposite so *put that thang down flip it and reverse it!* (Sorry, I really miss Missy Elliot).

Old School Facilities  MR GRAY SAYS BOOOOOOO!

  • Institutionalized model
  • Meeting basic needs is the focus
  • Staff-centric
  • Staff wear scrubs (i.e. they stick out like sore thumb & it’s all the medical feeeels)
  • Medical equipment & meds are out in the open
  • Strict and predictable schedules are followed as if the elderly were children (lunch now, bedtime now, etc.)
  • Limited access to other adults, children, and animals

VS.

The Eden Alternative Facilities   MR. GRAY SAYS YAAAAAAAAY!

  • Homelike model
  • Elderly-centric (staff support & befriend the seniors)
  • Staff wear regular clothes and blend in like family
  • Unpredictability & variety are key
  • Seniors have autonomy and a voice in their daily activities and general operations (even involved in meetings!)
  • Growing, learning, and contributing are a focus (ex. seniors can garden and grow their own food)
  • Seniors don’t just receive care, they have opportunities to give it
  • Medications, medical equipment, etc. are hidden so as to not be the focus
  • Easy access to humans (including children) & animals i.e. normal interactions

Which one would YOU choose? EA ALL DAAAAAAAY SON (OR GRAMPS) I have a dream, that one day, all senior facilities will be EA APPROVED.

So there are 2 ways to adopt the EA model: 1. A facility can go through a program with organizational restructuring, etc. and receive certification in this philosophy or 2. Be built from the ground up (*started from the bottom now we’re here*). #2 is called the “Green House Project.” These Green Houses have about 6-10 residents and look just like a regular home. Check it out:

 Pretty sure the Golden Girls live in this awesome rancher lol Note the garage, mailbox, and normal entryway. It's so house-like in every way! Pretty sure the Golden Girls live in this awesome rancher lol Note the garage, mailbox, and normal entryway. It’s so house-like in every way!

Now check out what goes on inside:

In conclusion, because I know this was a tad long but I mean, reading makes you smart and Mr. Gray told me to (his fault):

Mr. Gray doesn’t just survive with the Eden Alternative, he THRIVES, and isn’t that what he deserves? 

For more info, check it out at www.edenalt.org

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDPA!!!!!

Mr. Gray Can Dance!

Mr. Gray Can Dance!

Welcome welcome welcooome. So excited to meet all of you and to finally share my love of Mr. Gray (see the “Mr. Gray” page for a proper introduction). My hope is that this blog adventure will be like a beautiful blind date where you, too, will fall head over heels for Mr. Gray. I’ve been into him since the age of in utero, but ya know what they say: “It’s never too late to Go Gray.” So, whether you’re an old fogey fanatic like me or just a bit curious, let me lure you into the mystical world of seniors with DANCING…

Mr. Gray is hot like a fox trot. We’ve all seen the videos where a 90 yr old couple is breakdancing and making everyone’s jaws drop in awe of their physical prowess. Seniors don’t stop loving to dance just because they walk slower than we do. And sometimes, they do it better than us. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this cane-free since 1923 Fred Astaire:

I’m not sure what I love more, watching Mr. Gray strike these epic poses OR the trashbag of treasures on his belt. I mean, what’s IN there? Maybe it’s a cape or something because this man is SUPER! And check out the ladies that are flocking to him. What a stud.  

I admit that was an impressive video, BUT, have you ever seen an elderly Captain boogie? Well, a couple years ago, I spotted Mr. Gray at my favorite Pittsburgh Beer Hall, the Hofbrauhaus. While everyone was dancing on the tables in true German spirit, with beer spilling out of their giant mugs, I was soberly focused on more important things.

Like a moth to a flame, I spotted my white-hatted knight there on the dance floor BREAKING. IT. DOWN. 

I immediately turned green. Green with jealousy. There he was in his swanky vest with a striped tie and sleeves rolled up laissez-faire style. To complete his “I do what I want” ensemble, he wore a white captain hat as the piece de resistance. The only problem here was that he was dancing with all these other not-me ladies. *Cue eye roll* I HAD to get in there. Now, I am known to be bold and grab that beautiful butterfly when the opportunity presents, and maybe it was that hat that got me all weak in the knees, but I just couldn’t compose myself enough to jump in and steal him. Luckily, dad saved the day and before I had much chance for self-debate, he threw me to the wolves. (My family knows how I feel about Mr. Gray and fully support my vice). 

Mr. Gray was sweaty and definitely had that dancing-all-night scent, but as you can see by the smile plastered on my face in the video: “long hair don’t care.” He was SUCH a strong dance partner and leader and you better believe there was no shame is his game. He twirled me around to the tunes of Jimmy Buffet for the whole song and I could feel the confidence in his lead. At that point I was thinking the following: 1. Mr. Gray has stamina because I’m already tired and this is his 5th dance. 2.  This is already better than my senior prom (sidenote: if ONLY senior proms were really senior proms). and 3. He’s MINE ladies. Back up. I hear the band’s xylophone player is available. So yeah, it was like time froze in his arms and I could die a happy woman. So next time you’re watching DTWS aka “Dancing with the Stars” just remember that just like Julia Roberts in “My Best Friend’s Wedding”, Mr. Gray’s got moves you’ve never seen.