Senior Sanctuary

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  It’s something we will all face – the senior years. And, for many of us, the only option will be a nursing home. That is, until now. A new approach is offering an environment of variety and spontaneity and is hoping to succeed where pills and therapy fail.  
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Senior Sanctuary – STORY:

Viva Whitenton and her violin have been around nearly a century. But today she’s more in tune with living, and that’s music to her son’s ears.

Doug Whitenton: “I’ve seen a tremendous difference in Mother. She’s much happier.”

In May, Doug Whitenton moved his mother from a conventional nursing home into what’s called a “Green House.”

Viva Whitenton / Green House Resident: “It’s like being home.”

Implemented by Mississippi Methodist Senior Services, the Green House is the first of its kind.

Alan Brown / Mississippi Methodist Senior Services: “It’s a place where life happens, where things grow.”

A group of 10 elders, as they’re called, live together, each with a private room and bath. They choose the colors of their rooms and furnish them with personal belongings, including their own beds.

They also choose their weekly menus and enjoy meals together around a dining room table.

Alan Brown: “The focus is on what they have instead of what they’ve lost.”

The residents nurture the plants here and any visitors who drop by.

For Viva, seeing 12-week-old Nicholas is a treasure – forbidden at her former nursing home.

Viva: “It just makes me feel wanted and helps me not to be lonely.”

United Methodist founders hope that once consumers see alternatives like this, they’ll demand better choices for the elderly elsewhere.

Doug Whitenton: “I still have to pinch myself. I’m not sure this is real.”

Senior Sanctuary – TAG:

Giving the occupants choices, responsibilities and a change in environment has made a big difference for elders, workers say. Some who were once in wheelchairs are now walking and a few patients, once fed by caregivers, are now feeding themselves. To date, only four homes have been constructed through private contributions. A private room costs approximately $3,000 a month and is covered through insurance or paid individually by the occupant.