The Trager Institute at the University of Louisville is breaking new ground on the topic of Aging. Known for its leading edge programs that create ways for our seniors to take part in optimal aging via the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic, the Institute meets and exceeds the challenges faced by our seasoned citizens thanks to many of the interpersonal education programs managed by Justin Magnuson.
Justin Maganuson brings a different perspective to the entire aging and end of life process based on his experience with hospice, an aging grandmother, and the creation of The Before I Die Festival in Lousiville, Kentucky. For some the Festival is a guide on how to die wisely.
Your grey-haired host, Sam Yates, recently caught up with Magnuson so he could share information about Trager Institute and...yes, the Before I Die Festival.
Justin Magnuson can be reached at email@example.com
Hello everyone and welcome to another exciting edition of be Great American Senior Show. I'm your grey haired Host Sam Yates. And today it is my pleasure to welcome a special guest to our program, Justin Magnuson manages the professional education and I should say inter professional education programs at the University of Louisville, the the Trager Institute. And we're gonna learn a lot about Justin and in particular, the Trager Institute at the University of Louisville. And there's some things I think that you do not want to miss. So Justin, welcome to our program.Justin Magnuson:
Thank you so much for having me here. Sam. It was great to meet you at the SC for a conference back in September, which seems like a lifetime ago now. But yeah, it was it was great to hear about the work you're doing. And it's great to be here.Sam Yates:
Justin, tell us about yourself. You're a fascinating person. But I always like to learn more about my guests.Justin Magnuson:
Oh, gosh, where do I start? So I've lived in Louisville, most of my adult life. I grew up right across the border in Indiana. So about 10 miles north and a little town 34 years ago, if you tell people that you lived in southern Indiana, you may never come to Louisville unless you're going to the hospital. So, you know, 3040 years ago, it was pretty rural. Now it's more of a bedroom community. But I've lived in Louisville, most of my adult life, went to the University of Louisville graduated in 2010. Studying communication, and I've, I've done a list of things. But primarily, I was a massage therapist for 24 years. And I started doing community advocacy work around end of life issues, and 2016, which is right around the time that I was introduced to trigger Institute optimal while at the time. So back in 2016, we were the Institute for Sustainable health and optimal aging. And over the years, we've transitioned to offering a full service clinic. And so the Traeger Institute optimal aging clinic was opened in September of 2019. So I've been there through some exciting times as we transition from a very small internship program to having a full clinic. So it's been an interesting couple of years. Quite aSam Yates:
bit of history there. And I know that we all have what I refer to as life changing events in our lives. And you had just such an incident or an experience. I don't want to call it a an incident but an experience involving a loved one that brought you into the aging and dying community. Tell us a little bit about that was I believe was that your your grandmother?Justin Magnuson:
Yeah, so it was my my mother's mother. And 2002 I had I'll just a date myself just a little bit. I just turned 25. My grandmother had just turned 80. She lived alone in rural Indiana. And we had lunch on a Friday. I got a page. This is how old this was. My dad paged me on Sunday night and said, you know, left me a message that my grandmother had drove herself to the hospital Friday night, and was confused and disoriented. And so that started kind of a five week journey of being my grandmother's health care surrogate. My mother's family was very small, and I was her closest surviving can. And my mother's cousin, who would have been her health care surrogate was actually in Florida for the winter. So this was late January. And I navigated the last five weeks on my grandmother's health care, kind of making healthcare decisions, helping transition her to long term rehab, and then eventually her dying, and in a long term care facility. So that was my initial introduction to end of life care. And when I became a hospice volunteer, probably about 10 years ago, I saw my story play out over and over again, where people didn't know how to get support. They didn't know how to get resources. And so that got me really interested in like, how do we improve this both for professionals and for, you know, loved ones and people going through this?Sam Yates:
It's interesting, we share a little bit of that same background into the dining experience, end of life experience because I too, had a member of the family with breast cancer, a different term of care for hospice, but I ended in the same position. And that was my mother. And I helped her through that final stage of life. And it is something that changes you. And the one thing that that I found within my family, people did not my family members did not want to talk about death, they couldn't talk about death. And that is something that, I bring that to the forthright, because you do talk about death,Justin Magnuson:
I do. And I'm just gonna be upfront and say that it is easier to talk about death in general, and death with other people that aren't intimate to me, when I am, you know, talking about people that are close to me, or people that I'm in real close relationship to, it does become more tender and more delicate. But that's a big, that was a big thrust of my early work was really trying to provide opportunities for people to consider these concepts. not think about these concepts as something that you do when you're old, or when you have some kind of catastrophic diagnosis. But something that you know, you're integrating into the fabric, have, you plan for school, you plan for a wedding, you plan for a baby, it's like, we need to be having these conversations, and really knowing how to get the support we need when we're faced with, you know, terminal cancer or, or an accident. I mean, just, you know, there's a lot of different areas where this shows up. And, and again, like from my experience, and from seeing people in hospice care. I don't know if the outcome could be better, other than being prepared and feeling supported and feeling like you canSam Yates:
get the care that you need. I believe that if we can talk more about it, and make more people aware of the need for that communication, then that continuum of care isn't going to be rigid, it's going to be flexible. And it's going to be directed towards the person needing the care, just my personal experience in consulting with hospices around the country. So I commend you for that. I also want to let our audience know that if you happen to Google, Justin, you'll find that he started something that I thought was was also fascinating. And I've used that word a lot already in the conversation with you today. But it was the before I die festival. Tell us about that.Justin Magnuson:
So before I die fast, arose out of we had some community meetings back in early 2016. Of what would a model community look like at the end of life? And really shifting the focus of like, what would a community of care look like? And I had two people in the group that had been really interested in changing this conversation, and Deb toggle and Callum McBride and myself, thought, well, what would it look like to have a series of events focused on different aspects of death and dying? And what if you use storytelling? What if you used art What if you use poetry, movies, different ways to see yourself as part of this fabric of your life? We did 20 events in the month of October, a lot of times people would say before I die fast, you know, like a question mark in the back of their, you know, the, the, in the back of the question, you know, comments, it was really just an opportunity to get people together. And we really reached over 700 people in a month. So we've done we've done event series since 2016. COVID definitely changed the trajectory of that I'm doing things in person. Now. I'm trying to regroup and feel what it feels like to maybe do smaller, more intimate events, but really trying to build community that can know how to ask good questions, know how to provide direct care, or refer to direct care and to really tend to each other. And so that's really how that has evolved. While it happens outside of my work at the for the Traeger Institute. It's parallel to it in the Traeger Institute has been very supportive and allowing me to, to do this work and find where this fits. I'm in the middle. I have an event on Friday, Friday, November 18. I have an event I still when I reached out to the media. It's like you can hear it in the reply of like, you're trying to get people to talk about death and dying. Like why would you do that? And I've actually made a relationship with a local media personality. who has struggled and thrived and gone through a whole gamut of emotions around several health challenges over the last 10 years. And she's had me back every year since 2016. Every time she starts to talk about, okay, so since the last time I saw you, I've had these health concerns, and I recognize how important it is to engage my family to really think about what matters most to me. So it's been nice to, you know, see that there are people who have, and honestly, it's the people who have life experience, it's the people who are part of the club, that don't want to be a member of that club, who really engaged us.Sam Yates:
That's a great way of describing it. If someone and I don't want to put you on the spot, but if someone somewhere in our wide footprint throughout the United States, and even I believe we're now 23 Different countries that the this particular program is being heard, if they want to have information or they want to bounce some ideas about perhaps similar event to what you're doing open for that inquiry.Justin Magnuson:
Absolutely. I just talked to a woman in Memphis, Tennessee, who found us during the pandemic, and embarrassingly her, her message to me got lost. And so I followed up, you know, 18 months later and said, I'm very embarrassed. I just saw your message, you know, how can I help? She started talking about her life experience, her professional experience and sort of the alignment. And we were talking about, you know, what are some things that she can do in her community. Gail is in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and she started a before I Fest in Albuquerque. If you're in England, there are several organizations doing this kind of work. In England, there's a big push on the west coast in San Francisco for a group from called reimagine. So there are groups doing similar things. But if anybody ever wants to reach out to me, I'm sure you'll my email will be in the show notes. The coalition's that people you can connect with that are interested in doing this type of work, or just go ahead and give us your email before I forget Justin that firstname.lastname@example.org. But ISam Yates:
commend you on it. And it's something that I think takes a bit of bravery to step to the forefront to do but some much needed topics, I really think that you're doing a wonderful job on that Treyger Institute. And they are very, very gracious to allow you to, to be involved in a lot of different things. What is the trigger Institute,Justin Magnuson:
we've been evolving, I think we've been around since maybe 2013, or 14, initially, the Institute for Sustainable health and optimal aging, started with a core program, teaching, providing an internship for students to learn about what we call the flourish model. And the flourish model is built around assessing individuals around their health determinants. So looking at their their biological health, their psychological health, their access to health services, their health behaviors, looking at their environment, and then looking at their social economic status. And really assessing these six spheres identifying where they're doing well in identifying where they need support, and then helping connect that person with services out in the community. So working alongside their primary care and their behavioral health care to really assess them identify where they need support, and then connecting them to resources. So for example, someone has diabetes, and they keep coming back for their checkup, their numbers aren't changing. It's not just, you know, maybe one reason maybe they don't understand their condition, maybe they don't have good health behaviors, maybe they are depressed, maybe they don't have access to medication or transportation. So really trying to provide someone a navigator who can work alongside them to connect them to resources. And it could be information, it could be actual tangible resources. And that's the core. So at the very core is this flourish model. As we've evolved. As I was saying, in 2019, we, we basically merged with University of Louisville geriatrics, to basically start the optimal aging clinic and the ultimate aging clinic. We have continued that internship that we've continued on, we've started to really provide a one stop shop that provides physical therapy in house provides different behavioral health modalities and how house and caregiver support support around Alzheimer's and related dementias, but really trying to provide a core that can support and take that model out to, again, our primary care clinic within Austin So we've collaborated with hospitals, we've worked with long term care. So really trying to take this model where it's not just your biological health, if you look at statistically, your biological health is 20% of your overall well being, the other 80% Is the world you go out and have it. So the other 80% is not saying that, that that biological health that that good primary care isn't important. But it's really the world that you go out and have it and how you live in that world that really constitutes overall wellbeing. And so we really try to provide resources, we really try and provide education. And that's really where I step in, as I manage several education programs, where we're trying to provide this this flourish model for students that are within the university system, but then also providers who are out in the community working directly with people.Sam Yates:
Correct me if I'm wrong part of that flourish care program model. And the overall model as well, is that you're providing resources to the community, but you're also having seniors become a resource in the community,Justin Magnuson:
there's so many dual purposes there. I think that that's part of the conversation. And I hope you've heard that SE for a is that an aging, old aging adults, you still have, you know, even even if you're retired, and I'm saying that in air quotes, you know, you still have value, and you still have ways to contribute. And so finding meaningful ways that you can engage and feel connected, I hear that a lot. And some of the work that I'm doing, I don't do direct patient care at Traeger. But in mind before I die fast conversations, I hear that from from people is like, you know, as they retire as they, you know, their grandchildren grow up. It's like they sort of feel adrift. And so I think finding meaningful ways, either through age friendly Louisville, or there's Age Friendly groups all over the country. So Age Friendly, AARP, I mean, all of these groups, I think, are trying to solve this issue of how do you stay engaged and meaningfully connected?Sam Yates:
You know, it's interesting, if you stop and think about it, all of that information, all of that wealth of knowledge, that up until a certain point the person can share. So I, I heartily encourage anyone that wants to get involved in their community, Louisville community, or wherever you might be to follow Justin's lead here and step forward. Because it is a it is a knowledge base, that in many, many cases sitsJustin Magnuson:
untapped. Think about my grandmother. And I think about the stories that I heard over the course of my lifetime, and I heard them hundreds of times. And I really regret not writing them down. They're really, really regret not, you know, videoing her telling some of these stories, because you're right, it's like, even though I heard it, you know, and at some point, it was just like, you know, especially as a young adult or a teenager, it's like, Oh, not this story again. But you recognize that it's yeah, it's it's not solid, it you know, it needs to be captured in some way. And, and I think that that's one thing that comes out in funerals, or comes out in holidays, when you've, you know, you get a group of people together that knew someone really well and can share, but it would be great to capture it while that person is still living.Sam Yates:
Two things. One, again, how can people get in touch with you?Justin Magnuson:
So people can get in touch with me through the trigger Institute's optimal aging clinic, they can get in touch with me through before I die fast. Louisville, I'm on Facebook, and I'm on i We have a website. But yeah, people can always reach out. We're always looking for ways to connect or connect people to resources in their local community, or, you know, just see how we can improve the aging network and improve health care and the experience of aging.Sam Yates:
Well, I asked that question, because we're getting close on time. And I always like to make sure people know how to get in touch with our guest. I'm hoping that you will be agreeable to come back at some point in the future.Justin Magnuson:
It would be great to talk to you, Sam. I'm always learning and I'm always thinking of new connections of how this all fits together. Because I think that that's one piece that you can't understate how important it is to really think about all the different considerations in terms of aging, well getting what matters most to you. But then also knowing you know, if you're a professional, you know how to think about it as well. We're always looking for opportunities to collaborate or or work with, you know, other organizations or I talked about our initial flourish model and the the health determinants. We're constantly adding to that. And we've been working a lot around trauma informed care recently, we've been working in a lot around diversity, equity, inclusion and anti racism and healthcare, both looking at the effects of the people we're serving, but then also looking at our own policies. We're also working with with care professionals. So we're constantly looking at, you know, how do we expand the workforce, but then how do we also expand, you know, our perspective on the people we're serving? So those are some of the things that we're working on and thinking about.Sam Yates:
Right. We look forward to getting updates from you. So Justin, I want to thank you for being with us here on theJustin Magnuson:
Well, thank you for having having me today. I'm saying I really appreciate your thoughtful questions and your sort of, I'm going to say quest to continue to really bring these conversations forward. I think it's so important.Sam Yates:
Thank you. I take a lot of pride in doing that. So it's nice to hear that it is appreciated. Justin Magnuson, thank you very much. I'm Sam Yates, your gray haired host for the great American seniors show until our next episode. Have a great day, everybody.