“We have to remember what Mother Nature has taught us about vibrant, vigorous living—that’s what we try to do,” Parton says. To create this environment, the 50-bed center has a communal dining area, a kitchen where residents can get involved, and vegetable and flower gardens. There are also grandparenting sessions with elementary students and trips to ballgames with elementary and high school students.
Residents are allowed to keep pets. And instead of “elderly” or “seniors,” residents are “elders.”
Thus far, the program is a success with the elders. “It’s been really positive,” Parton says. “They feel more like living again.”
Parton began his career as a nursing home administrator in Lima, Ohio, in 1971 and moved on to Youngstown, Ohio, and Buffalo, N.Y. With all that experience, he’s a big advocate of the new approach. “It’s what I think I would want,” he says. “Not only me; people that are buying into this program are feeling good about themselves again.”