Country Star Turned Alzheimer’s Advocate Jay Allen Headlines Pittsburgh Age-Friendly Town Hall

Allen joins Dr. Bill Thomas for an evening of song and story celebrating change-makers in rural aging. 

PITTSBURGH – Musician and Alzheimer’s advocate Jay Allen will lend his star power to Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh’s Transform Rural Aging Town Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at MuseumLab.

Also joining will be community builder and Regional Director for Sen. Bob Casey, Harry Johnson II; cultural change-agent Dr. Bill Thomas and Kathy Gillespie, founders of the Minka Village of Hope, a groundbreaking, dementia-friendly community in Clearfield County.  The event is free and open to the public.

Allen joins the event from Nashville to support and raise awareness for the Village of Hope project and will perform and speak about his hit “Blank Stares” dedicated to his mother’s experience living and dying of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The event is sponsored by major healthcare innovators pioneering population health solutions for rural aging: UPMC Community HealthChoices, a managed long-term services and supports  program launching statewide in 2020 designed to help older adults and persons living physical disabilities – especially those living in rural parts of Pennsylvania – remain living in the community, and Lifesprk Whole Person Care, a Minnesota-based home health company pioneering value-based health care models that have dramatically reduced hospitalizations for seniors.

The Transform Aging Town Hall is hosted by Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh with support from Southwestern  Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging (SWPPA) as part of the region’s action plan to feature innovative new age-friendly community models.

Joining Allen on stage, Johnson will speak to the power of community to support aging and Gillespie and Dr. Thomas will share stories of reinventing communities to be inclusive of people living with dementia.

Dr. Thomas, known for his global Eden Alternative and Green House Project models to transform long term care, partnered with Gillespie to build the Village of Hope using his advanced prefabricated home building system Minka Homes + Communities, based in upstate New York.

The Village of Hope fosters “neighborly engagement” that can drive down health care costs by including community members in the design and programming of their community, Gillespie said.

“We’re building a 21st century solution to rural aging based on our oldest and strongest values of neighbor helping neighbor,” says Gillespie, who as director of the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging purchased a 26-acre school property to convert into Minka pocket neighborhoods for approximately 60 households clustered around a Village Hall mixed-use arts/retail/health center.

The $16 million project will break ground in 2020 and also aims to pioneer the use of telehealth and cutting-edge digital health technologies aimed at closing the rural health care gap.

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