Humanly Possible® is Front Porch’s commitment to cause-based innovation. Using eight simple actions, we harness the energy and ideas of all of our people to do whatever is humanly possible to creatively meet the needs of the individuals we serve. The Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing is a signature program of Humanly Possible. The Center works in partnership to create opportunities, explore technology solutions, pioneer new directions and enhance wellbeing for those we are privileged to serve. Click on the eight action words below to learn more or watch the Humanly Possible video.
Sometimes, one good idea can change countless lives. With that understanding, we are always working to develop new solutions to address the needs of the populations we serve. By listening, and applying true cause-based innovation, we can make a real impact. This is what we do, and this is how we change lives for the better.
As we age, hearing loss can negatively impact our health—with physical, social, and emotional complications including fatigue, headaches, stress, sleeping problems, and depression. According to the National Institutes of Health, a third of people between 65 and 74 experience hearing loss, while half of those over 75 face hearing difficulties. Yet only 30 percent of people 70+ who would benefit from a hearing aid actually wear one. The reasons are many, but they include accessibility, affordability, and stigma.
“The health and wellness impact of hearing loss can’t be overstated,” says Kari Olson, president of FPCIW. “As we age, the inability to hear conversations and participate in discussions progressively takes us down a path of self-isolation, and the mounting evidence of deteriorating health conditions due to social disengagement is impossible to ignore.”
An exciting class of accessible innovative listening devices is emerging in the hearing loss space, and the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing (FPCIW) is exploring these hearing-aid alternatives to address this prevalent issue. With a grant award from the Consumer Technology Association Foundation (CTA), FPCIW will introduce group listening devices and personal sound amplification products (PSAP).
“We’re in the midst of an exciting explosion of hearing solutions that is already disrupting the traditional hearing device market, and the impact potential of these new solutions will be enormous to the wellness and independence of older adults,” says FPCIW director Davis Park. “This generous grant from the CTA Foundation enables us to test these consumer solutions and accelerate their adoption.”
FPCIW will deploy a group listening system developed by EverSound alongside PSAP devices, such as Doppler Lab’s HereOne and NuHeara’s IQBuds, across 12 Front Porch communities. The project will assess the impact of these innovations on social engagement and quality of life among hundreds of older adults.
Summer House Residents Join in Harmony
For the past year, Tomoko has lived at Summer House, the memory care neighborhood in Villa Gardens Retirement Community. Although Tomoko sometimes struggles to recognize family members and recent events, she can recall all the words to “Amazing Grace,” “America the Beautiful” and other favorite songs. And for her longtime friend, Esther, singing together offers a powerful point of connection for the two of them to share.
“It was important for me to join her in the chorus as her buddy,” Esther said. “I can see a difference in her mood when she comes here to sing.”
Twice a week, Tomoko, Esther and about 20 residents living in Summer House at Villa Gardens rehearse side-by-side with their “buddies” in the Joyful Hearts chorus.
“Now is the time for the magic to begin!” exclaims the professional choir director. Suddenly, residents who entered the room having difficulty holding a thought or stringing even a few words together, sing tunes ranging from patriotic favorites, holiday classics and American standards.
Many studies show involvement in participatory arts programs have a positive effect on mental health, physical health, and social functioning in older adults, regardless of their ability.
Volunteers play a key role in socialization and singing support for the residents. “Buddies” include fellow residents, community volunteers and/or family members. All volunteers receive training and education about memory–related challenges residents are experiencing.
“Music makes the heart come alive,” said Bonnie Stover, one of the chorus organizers and director of volunteer services for Front Porch, Villa Gardens’ parent company. “Residents are responding with enthusiasm. Our goal is not perfection. We emphasize the joy found in the process of weekly participation in the rehearsals and the socialization that goes along with it.”
“It’s been a positive experience,” said volunteer Mark Jolley. “I’m happy to be here to support (Summer House resident) Roy.”
Joyful Hearts has performed several public concerts to the delight of listeners.
Residents and Kids Share Knowledge and Fun at Camp Villa Gardens
Villa Gardens residents are fascinating individuals with a wealth of knowledge in all realms including anthropology, astrology, engineering, art – just to name a few. In 2016 a group of residents came together to form a summer camp for local children who had the extraordinary opportunity to learn, share and have some fun!
“Campers” of all ages learned and played at Camp Villa Gardens, an inter-generational Summer Camp organized entirely by residents for nine- and 10-year old students attending nearby Jefferson Elementary School.
“I like to play,” said resident Sue Peace one of the Camp Villa Gardens instructors. “These kids are wonderful to play with.”
Games, swimming lessons, crafts, exchanging experiences, learning about the great pyramids, astronomy, gardening and having some laughs along the way.
The month-long camp – all free to students. And when it is over, priceless memories for residents and campers alike.
“Teaching and interacting with nine year-olds isn’t exactly like doing the same with 19 year-olds but it’s still about learning, interacting and communicating ideas,” said Dr. Bryce Harris, a retired college professor and one of the camp’s organizers who taught the kids about the Egyptian pyramids. “So that’s why I love it.”
“It just makes me feel so good,” one nine-year-old camper said. “My grandparents are in Mexico so I don’t get to see them. I feel like I have substitute grandparents here.”
Kids from Jefferson were chosen because for the past two decades residents have volunteered their time as tutors at the school.
“We have a long, ongoing relationship with Jefferson,” said Villa Gardens Executive Director Dmitry Estrin. “It’s part of our residents’ ongoing engagement with their community.”
“The kids get self-confidence and poise and a feeling somebody cares,” said resident Pat Ganje.
Villa Gardens supplies backpacks, camp shirts and school supplies to each camper and supports residents requests for meeting spaces, materials, equipment and transportation for the students.
Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing
The Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing is the signature program of Humanly Possible® and a critical expression of who we are as a forward-thinking organization committed to creatively meeting needs. We combine imagination with technology to empower people to live well. Every day, at the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, we work to better understand and respond to the changing needs of the people we serve. And we partner with creative organizations to develop new ideas and advance the solutions that help individuals live their best.
We’re better together.
Our Humanly Possible® culture thrives in collaboration. If your organization is interested in expanding possibilities through cause-based innovation, and you share a dedication to doing everything Humanly Possible® to meeting needs, then get in touch with us. We value partnership and celebrate fresh ideas!