The Elephant’s Graveyard: Bringing the Old Bones Home (Breakout Session)

Presented by Janice Blanchard, President, Aging Better Together
Ann Zabaldo, Board of Directors, Mid Atlantic Cohousing

Session Description

The elephant’s graveyard is a myth that alleges that when elephants become gravely ill, old and/or frail, they leave the herd to go to a special place where other elephants have gone before them to spend their last days before eventually dying. While this is a myth for elephants, it is close to the truth for humans today.

Up until the early 20th century, most Americans “aged in community” – they lived out their final years at home until they died with the support and care of family, friends and neighbors. Most Americans still wish to be cared for and to die at home. However, 70 percent go by choice or force to a “special place” to die – a hospital, nursing home or long-term-care facility. Only 25 percent rest their weary old bones down one last time at home. A growing barrier for many to fulfill their wishes of staying out of institutions is the “care-gap” – the lack of support they have at home for the period between when chronic and/or acute illness begins and before hospice and/or life ends.

This interactive “collaboratory café” draws on participants’ lifetime skills, wisdom, and experience with their own loved ones, as well as new knowledge gained from the conference, to create innovative strategies to close the care-gaps in their community. Participants will also be eligible to continue their learning in a “community of practice” post-conference centered on creating, testing and expanding the care options for aging in community.

About the Presenter/s

Janice Blanchard, MSPH, is a gerontologist who is passionate about promoting a new paradigm of aging that values elders for their wisdom, experience and as vital members of their community. Distinguished for her seminal work in developing the concept and practice of Aging in Community, Blanchard is a contributing author and editor of the book, Aging in Community (2013) and a nationally sought after speaker, author and consultant on this and other aging issues. Her career in aging has spanned across the country and globe, for such diverse organizations as the University of Western Sydney, the Older Women’s Network, the National Governor’s Association Policy Academy and the National Center for Creative Aging.

Ann Zabaldo is both a pioneer volunteer and a paid professional in the cohousing movement. She specializes in outreach education, marketing, and fueling the fires of burning souls. Past president Coho/US; Board of Directors, Mid Atlantic Cohousing; founding member and resident Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington, DC.

Additional Information

"The Elephant’s Graveyard: Bringing the Old Bones Home" is the third of three in a series.
While all three are designed to stand alone, their full power is realized in attending all three:
#1 - The Elephant in the Common Room: Old and in the Way
#2 - The Elephant Never Forgets: The Power of the Herd
#3 - The Elephant’s Graveyard: Bringing the Old Bones Home