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Silvers at one of the Lantern communities engaged in cerebellar and hemispheric integration exercises to strengthen cerebellar functions such as posture and coordination, improve muscle strength and increase flow of blood to the brain

It’s never 2 late

Author: admin

International columnist Jack York shares the remarkable story of Jean Makesh from Ohio

Greetings from the US! Most of the articles I’ve written for Harmony have come from long-standing relationships I have with individuals in the world of senior living that have a connection with India. For instance, people like Vivian Tellis Nayak and Bhakti Gosalia. But since I took on this responsibility of writing every other month, I find myself looking for people doing innovative work—whether I know them or not—that have a connection to India. That is this month’s story, a chance encounter at a conference in Florida recently where I met a remarkable visionary in the field of ageing, Jean Makesh.

Jean looks you straight in the eye; he’s happy to speak his mind. He is comfortable taking on the status quo of how elders are treated in the US. He gets animated as he talks about it; it’s clearly a passion that runs deep. He was born in Pondicherry, India, and completed his high school there. He likes to reminisce about his home country as a place where the culture of love, caring, obedience and respect for elders is followed. That is the foundation of his work.

His career in senior living started in 1995; he was employed with SunDance Rehabilitation as an occupational therapist. He has undergraduate degrees and a postgraduate diploma in occupational therapy as well. In addition, he has an MBA from Lake Erie College. After working for some large providers in the US, he ultimately founded—and is now the CEO of—the Lantern Group, a community based in Ohio in the United States. The philosophy of Lantern is simple: ‘Home, where the right to good quality of living, is every human’s birthright.’

Jean has always thought out of the box and Lantern has become his model of the future. In his own words, he likes to be “five years ahead of everyone else when it comes to senior living in general as well as in technology implementation”. At Lantern, he has designed a state-of-the-art, award-winning assisted living and Alzheimer’s care facility. His fascination and passion for ageing formed the impetus to design and create a therapeutic care programme that is one of a kind in the country, and the world. Some of his recognitions include Entrepreneur of the Year, the Model Practice Award and Next Avenue’s 2016 Top 50 Influencers in Ageing in the country. And he talks like he’s just beginning: Lantern’s five-year goal is to develop an effective treatment methodology and techniques to treat individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and certain forms of dementia. The end goal is to reintegrate our elderly back into their community.

One of his most creative projects has been to design and develop a patent-pending, retro-virtual time capsule to nurture and facilitate memory that promotes functional independence. In fact, the care delivery model he has developed is the only care programme in the world that is therapeutic in nature. It utilises the individual’s environment, learning and activities to activate repressed memories and stimulate newer learning. This work has led Jean to be featured in various local and international media. As he says, “Ageing begins the day we are born and ends the day we depart. It is an evolutionary process that nourishes and expands our prosperity through knowledge and lifelong experiences. Embracing, cherishing, celebrating and respecting ageing should be our culture and our way of life. Ageing should be revered!” Jean also stays connected with his roots. He is one of the primary shareholders in a business called Expat Group, based in Bengaluru. He has also been invited to partner with developers and real-estate groups in India to design and build senior housing, assisted living and memory care communities. Currently, actively engaged with a developer in Dallas, Texas, he appears open to explore other opportunities in India.

Jean, it was a pleasure to get to know you a bit through this interview. Your passion is contagious and your ideas visionary. You’re a man to watch in this industry and a credit to your success in two continents. I think your self-assessment of being five years ahead of the curve is accurate—we look forward to watching you challenge the status quo for many years to come!

York is co-founder of It’s Never 2 Late ® (iN2L), an American company dedicated to helping older adults realise the full benefits of today’s technology

Photos courtesy: Jack York
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
May 2018