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Teamwork makes the dream work

May 13, 2018 GMT

It is so true. My wife Caroline has been a preschool teacher for 30 years, working with 3- and 4-year-olds, teaching them the basics of kindness and how to play with others. “Teamwork makes the dream work” is a popular saying that helps kids get along and work together. You hear them saying this as they clean up their toys in preschool.

It is a good message for all of us to remember and in a special way for Santa Fe’s aging population, at the other end of the spectrum. A number of years ago, my mom was having a hard time living alone, so we moved her in with us. It wasn’t easy, but with help from outside caregivers for six hours a day, we managed the other 18 hours. Finding help and services in Santa Fe wasn’t simple, but we managed to provide a loving home until she died peacefully in her sleep. It was a challenging but unforgettable experience, and it taught me so much.

This understanding led me to found a nonprofit called Life Circle. Life Circle’s goal is to improve care and services for Santa Fe’s elderly — and to educate residents about their needs. Life Circle seeks to identify the gaps in services and provide support, collaboration, coordination and advocacy. There is much goodness in people. At times the institutions, the systems and the funding sources make life seem hard and impersonal, but in almost every organization there are people who care deeply and can make a huge difference for those in need.

Almost everyone has a story about a relative or friend who is aging and needs help. The number of people 65 years or older in Santa Fe County between now and 2040 is estimated to triple to about 61,000 and will constitute 33 percent of the county’s population.. This demographic shift represents a fantastic opportunity for teamwork and innovative, creative solutions.

You may have heard about how challenged Santa Fe’s two nursing homes are, with lawsuits and bankruptcy, but I visited one of them, Santa Fe Care Center; it was celebrating improving its quality-of-care rating from a single star to four stars (out of five). Isn’t that wonderful? It is such a tribute to the amazing people who work there.

Life Circle has a dream of new services that would improve the lives of Santa Fe’s growing population of elders. Through a generous community development grant from Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, we are about to open an adult day care service. This is a critical service for families caring for elders, especially elders with Alzheimer’s.

u We have been an advocate for Santa Fe to become an age-friendly community through the World Health Organization and AARP.

u We support establishing a community-based Senior Affairs Advisory Commission made up of stakeholders in city and county government, in health care and business, along with advocates for seniors.

u We support building a transformational Green House Project nursing home along with an inpatient hospice facility. Our dream will make Santa Fe a stronger, better community for all of us.

Through leadership, teamwork makes the dream work.

Michael Munson is founder and executive director of Life Circle. The group is seeking volunteers and possible board members to help make the dream come true. To learn more about Life Circle and its dream for Santa Fe, visit life-circle.org or email Michael@life-circle.org.