On Friday, June 28th, 2012, I keynoted the LeadingAge national conference held in Hershey, Pennsylvania, encouraging the hundreds of committed and dedicated caregivers there to continue and even grow their 'honored profession,' of caring for the dignity-rich aging in this country. I shared with attendees the personal impact their profession has had on my own life.
My own father, Mr. Johnie W. Smith, long-self sufficient and in many ways a self-made man, today is partially dependent upon a loving caregiver. I recalled how early on, when my dad's health began to fail, we checked him into a hospital. When I visited him some 2-weeks later I could barely recognize him. His physical health was being taken care of, but his spirit was faltering badly. There was no one in that hospital, as well meaning as they might have been, that had fully dedicated themselves to my father's emotional, spiritual, purpose-filled and yes, physical care. But when I brought my dad home, as he had requested, and entrusted a part-time caregiver to him and him alone, giving him the love and care he both deserved and needed, his overall health and wellness turned around almost completely. Within a month he was back at full-speed, smiling again even, and I am convinced that this change both saved and prolonged his life.
Today my father continues to benefit from a loving caregiver, while maintaining a degree of independence and self-determination. He even benefits from the love of my chief of staff of 20 years, Rachael Doff, who on her own time and of her own decision, also spends time with my dad, and has in many ways accepted my dad as an extended member of her family. All of this, keeps him vibrant, young in spirit and engaged in life. At nearly 88 years of age, he has and continues to live a rich life. Coming to the LeadingAge conference and sharing whatever inspiration and encouragement that I could, was the least I could do for this incredible, dignity-rich caregiver community.
A special thank you to all that stayed around for my booksigning for LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass). Thank you, all.
Onward and with HOPE,
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum. Mr. Bryant serves on the board of directors of Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation, an NYSE Euronext publicly traded company, and a division of $54 billion Ares Capital.
To expand the world of possibilities for aging, LeadingAge members and affiliates touch the lives of millions of individuals, families, employees and volunteers every day. The LeadingAge community includes 6,000 not-for-profit organizations in the United States, 39 state partners, hundreds of businesses, research partners, consumer organizations, foundations and a broad global network of aging services organizations that reach over 30 countries.
The work of LeadingAge is focused on advocacy, leadership development, and applied research and promotion of effective services, home health, hospice, community services, senior housing, assisted living residences, continuing care communities, nursing homes, as well as technology solutions, to seniors, children, and others with special needs.