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Looking through the other end of the telescope

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee is fond of saying we need to “look through the other end of the telescope” at many of our problems - that we need to look at things differently.

That is exactly what Keren Brown Wilson, who recently visited our campus, has done.

Keren is a native of War, W.Va. and created the concept of assisted living to help her mother, who suffered a stroke in her 50’s. In trying to find the best care facility in the area, Keren did all of her homework and found the optimal place for her mom.

Within a month or two, her mom moved out of the facility back to her home.

Her charge to Keren was to come up with a solution that worked better for others and her mom.

This started Keren’s journey to assisted living. An idea and solution that has changed the lives of countless elders and disabled citizens of WV and our country.

Keren is now extending her thoughts to elderly health. This is an area germane to WV and to the world, as our population ages.

West Virginia has the third oldest populations per capita in the US. We also spend about 26-28% of our GDP on healthcare (US about 17 to 18 percent). Since we spend a disproportionate amount of our healthcare dollars on people at the end of their life, and chronic disease is more prevalent in older age, we will likely see health care costs go up in the future.

It's a scary thought.

Maybe with Keren’s help, we can stem this expense and start a movement in our state related to change elderly health and care for the better.

We have stated that one of the most important elements of thriving for your life is to stay connected to people and purpose and Keren has great ideas to accomplish this.

Maybe WV can be a place of rebirth for others, no matter what age and by looking through the other end of the telescope, we can start another movement for elders – back to the simpler time where being older endowed people with hierarchical community positions providing wisdom and counsel for others.

Rediscovering our humanity and living our whole lives meaningfully, irrespective of age.

This is a pretty good future to look forward to in WV and the world.