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Behind the List with Larry J. Zook

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Larry J. Zook is president and CEO of Landis Homes Retirement Community. This year, Zook marks 20 years with the Lancaster County nonprofit continuing care community that opened in 1964.
Larry J. Zook is president and CEO of Landis Homes Retirement Community. This year, Zook marks 20 years with the Lancaster County nonprofit continuing care community that opened in 1964. - (Photo / )

president and CEO of Landis Homes Retirement Community

Q: What are seniors looking for in today's retirement homes? Is it just about the physical space, or do they want more?

A: We find many seniors are looking for the security of knowing that health care needs will be met in the future as they develop. Continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, offer the peace of mind of knowing these needs will be met into the future in a caring, compassionate environment.

Many also seek an active and vibrant community experience which enhances wellness in all of its dimensions — social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical.

Have the economic issues of the past few years changed how people prepare for their later years?

During these years, there has been good interest in a variety of alternatives to support aging in place, including in-programs like our adult day services and Landis at Home programs, which help persons remain in their homes as long as possible.

We have found some were waiting longer to make the move to CCRCs, though the pace has begun to pick up again with the recovery in the real estate and investment markets.

What are you learning from your partnership with colleagues in China?

China faces a huge aging-population boom, where the one-child policy increasingly results in fewer young people caring for a larger aging population. Churches have been invited by the Chinese government to respond to this need and are actively engaged in exploring home- and community-based services, as well as in providing retirement homes.

In many ways, the Chinese have a blank slate as they plan for the future and are seeking to learn from the global experience of caring for the elderly and, I believe, in the future will arrive at many creative solutions, including new models that both engage family, paid caregivers and other community resources, enhanced by appropriate use of technology. I look forward to watching the growth of aging services in China.

Tell us about your blog and what that adds to company communication.

Strong communication and transparency are among my personal values as I seek to be a serving leader. In January 2007, early in my tenure as president, I began blogging as a personal discipline in support of these values. Part of communication and seeking to be a serving leader is listening well, then communicating what is being heard, and then being responsive.

My first blog was a summary of what I heard in my first weeks from key staff and others at Landis Homes and the direction that was emerging for the future. I've continued to provide updates on community life at Landis Homes and to share what we as a community are learning as we listen to those we serve and how we are responding.

Landis Homes celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and you mark 20 years with the company. What changes have you seen, both with the company- and industry-wide?

Seeking to be a community of Christ-like love is at the core of Landis Homes, and this has not changed. There are many changes in ways that we serve residents, seeking to put the needs and interests at the heart of all we do. Across the nation, this movement has been called “person-centered care.” At Landis Homes, we have chosen to call it “honoring lives.” Employees want to see residents honored, respecting each person, listening, empowering, demonstrating sensitivity, extending grace, encouraging choice and creativity.

We also have seen the need for a wider variety in options for people as they age, and as a result in 2011 created Landis Communities. In early 2013, we affiliated with Welsh Mountain Home in support of its 90-year mission in the New Holland area and opened Steeple View Lofts, loft-style apartments for persons age 55-plus in downtown Lancaster.

We are grateful to be part of the central Pennsylvania area where there are many excellent aging-services providers who together seek to honor and enrich the lives of those served.

About Larry Zook

Larry Zook is not just a blogger; he says he has an interest in all forms of social media. He also enjoys reading, walking and traveling.

Zook, 51, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Millersville University and a master of business administration degree in urban economic development from Eastern University.

He and his wife, Dawn, have a son who is a junior in high school, and they live in Penn Township, Lancaster County.

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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