On November 3rd, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) hosted a group of nearly 30 people who participated in a spirited discussion with Dr. Bill Thomas, a Harvard-educated geriatrician best known for his health care system innovations designed to improve care provided to older people, including the Senior Emergency Room model. Dr. Thomas is the founder of The Green House Project, a small house alternative to the traditional nursing home; and The Eden Alternative, a model that focuses on creating quality of life for elders and their care partners, wherever they may live. With support from WPHF, the Gardens at DePugh inn Winter Park is pursuing Eden Alternative certification and once achieved, will be the sixth organization in Florida to do so.
Dr. Thomas visited Central Florida as part of his 30 city “Age of Disruption” national tour. The 2015 tour has several components including an evening performance, an interactive session for memory impaired individuals donated by a professional musician and an invitation-only luncheon. During the lunch discussion hosted by WPHF, an impassioned Dr. Thomas focused on the importance of language and spoke at length about ageism, the application of attributes to a group of people simply because of their age. He noted most people hold very positive attitudes toward their older loved ones, but can hold negative notions about older people in general. He challenged the group to raise awareness of the important contributions elders make to society and to promote the idea of the value they bring as opposed to losses they may experience.