I've accepted the challenge! Throughout April, I'll be posting as a health activist writer in the #HAWMC (Health Activist Writing Month Challenge) by #WEGO http://blog.wegohealth.com/ Each day offers a unique prompt that will take us in a variety of directions. Let's see where we go! Here's the first one:
Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you & your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112. What’s in it? What would people think of it when they found it?
In 2112 they would open my time capsule to find photos, audio clips and videos showing that we in 2012 respect our Elders less, and rarely turn to them for guidance. Many live in institutions, their lives driven by medical systems and routines. Photos are of people who have lived long lives, their faces often showing loneliness, helplessness, or boredom ("the three plagues", as identified by Dr. Bill Thomas). In one photo, wheel chairs are lined up in sterile hallways outside a bathroom. In another, generally kind, loving staff scurry through their duties, trying to keep up. Meaningful connection and listening to Elders is, apparently by necessity, given short shrift. But institutional living conditions are a good deal better than in 1912—far from ideal, but heading in the right direction. Of course in 1912 many more Elders lived with extended families.
Inside the capsule also are newspaper ads for anti-aging products and articles telling the story of a society with an aversion to accepting the realities of aging. Long-term care funding sources are drying up. However, the time capsule also reveals the beginnings of the movement that, by 2112, has changed all of that. Shortly before 2012, The Eden Alternative (www.Edenalt.org) went international, bringing to the Eldercare world the concept of person-directed care. (Why, wonder those in 2112, was it so radical that Elders should have a say in the quality of their lives?) The Eden principles include nursing homes and other care-partners focusing First on their residents and loved ones. Eldercare cultures had begun to shift in ways that made everyone happier and healthier. And conversations such as ChangingAging.org began to engage the culture as a whole in a new conversation, reinventing what aging could be.
Included in my time capsule would be a disk of YouTube clips of Greenhouse Project homes that are run in a person-centered way. An Elder, who has given up feeding herself and speaking, grabs the spoon from her son, and the video ends with her singing Amazing Grace.