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Stanley Radzyminski, 90, works in the gift shop at Eddy Village Green. — Katjai Heinemann/Aurora Select

Green House

The concept: A new style of nursing home created by gerontologist William Thomas that looks, feels and operates more like a cozy house than an institution. Ten or so residents live together and get ultra-individualized care from nursing staff that knows them well and cooks their meals in an open country-style kitchen.

The numbers: 87 Green House projects serving 1,000 residents; 120 projects in development.

The price: The same Medicaid and Medicare coverage offered to traditional nursing homes; the minority paying out of pocket are charged the going rate in the area for a more conventional nursing home.

Residents' private bedrooms and bathrooms surround a living and dining room that looks like it could be in a single-family home; a screened-in porch or a backyard offers outdoor access. As much as possible, residents make their own decisions, such as when they'll wake up.

Proponents point to studies showing a Green House can improve an older person's quality of life, provide at least comparable, if not better, care than a traditional nursing home, and reduce staff turnover. "The good news and the bad news is that you get to spend the rest of your life with 10 people," says Victor Regnier, a professor of architecture and gerontology at the University of Southern California.

Stanley Radzyminski, 90, might not be able to communicate with a few dementia residents in his Green House at Eddy Village Green in Cohoes, N.Y., but says, "I really like it here. I have my own room and privacy, and if I need help, the staff is outstanding. We all want to think we can take care of ourselves, but it's not always possible."

Next: Village model offers social opportunites. >>

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