September 11th 2019

Structures for the third half of life in the US with Bonnie Vallette

What to do and where to go when people get older? What are the structures and services available?
Bonnie Vallette answers those questions for the USA and especially for the area where she is active and where she tries to create a network for the benefit of the elder.


When we are young, we are not very interested in thinking about old age and how we will be able to live then. We postpone the topic until we are getting nearer and nearer and the thoughts appear: what can I do when…? Who will take care of me, if I can’t do anymore xyz? And when we enter into retirement, we are confronted with the reality that the money we get as a pension probably won’t take us very far.

Unless we had a really good job and paid a lot into the pension fonds, we will realise that it is difficult to keep up the usual life style. Old people living near poverty has become almost normal in the last few decades, and it will get even more “normal” for future generations who live in total insecurity regarding jobs and social security already. Who will take care fo the old people who have no family able to take care for them?

The question is answered differently in the different countries of the world. The lack of funding seems to be an all pervasive phenomenon. Old people are no investment, in a capitalist society they are worthless and left to the compassion of private people and, yes, the churches. Thanks God we haven’t demolished them yet, totally, by means of the increasing atheism in the world. They have an important function and we better recognise that in time!

Our guest this week, Bonnie Vallette, got interested in the topic eldercare long before she reached the interested age herself. She is very active in trying to create a better situation for the older population, at least in her community. In our conversation she explains how the systems work in the US, especially in her area, and what she is doing and initiating to better the life of those who, at the end of their life times, are unable to fight for themselves. If you have questions how you can collaborate, or just, where to go when you have specific problems, do contact Bonnie:email:  Phone: 1.614.226.7247.


Bonnie Vallette is a generalist, weaver, and networker. She brings people and ideas together in new ways – using concepts like disagreeing in love and polarity management, in community building and igniting culture change, and by utilizing skills learned in Eldercare (Person-Centered, Hospice, and Trauma-Informed Care) and the Authentic Relating and Integral movements, all to help facilitate and deepen difficult discussions with an eye toward win-win resolutions. Discovering Spiral Dynamics gave her a map to hold diverse interests and lean into her gifts in new ways. Underpinning all Bonnie’s efforts are a lust for life-long learning, body- and breath-work, and daily meditation.


Bonnie has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing from The Ohio State University. She has worked in retail, business banking, as a church administrator, nonprofit fund development, and in Eldercare. Bonnie received her Level One SDi certification from Don Beck in Texas (Spring 2018), and Level Two SDi certification from Rica Viljoen in South Africa (Summer 2019).

0:00 Intro Heidi 

0:50 Bonnie introduces herself, works in elder care, non-profit structures

2:22 Elders need to stay at home to get the maximum benefit of payment. Elders stay alone and they connect with them and help with everything.

4:12 Bonnie gives a historical overview of payments for elders etc. Before children could stay in the community and so the elders were connected with family. Medicate and medicare payed more than the actual cost of nursing homes. Now lower payout for nursing home and less staff. 10.000 people a day are retiring and enter into medicare which is not enough funded. Community action is required and important. 

8:35 Who is in nursing homes. Assisted living. People need to provide their own money. Savings of 5000$ or less: they can supply for medicate which they can keep, not needing to use their private money to pay for care. They are even less supported and nursing homes take only limited numbers of these.

11:55 The work of Bonnie WFCA: senior centers, services, affordable services, Her goal: insure mechanisms in place that elders are helped to resolve their dilemma. 

14:15 Funding. Hopefully churches, volunteers, foundations

15:40 Younger people work for free and they get the support back when they need it? “Kindness” initiative: college students for their volunteer hours, also church members. “The circle of caring” Heidi’s ideas of mutual support

17:55 App for community service hours. – the future of care? Agencies for Aging for people who are completely alone. You can become an advocate for them.

20:00 Heidi on the system in Germany. 

21:20 Heidi on “Reinventing organisations” by Frederick Laloux Nursing differently organised in the Netherlands. When will we take over such a successful model

24:15 Bonnie on leadership. Eden philosophy: People who are doing the direct care know best, start to be empowered and speak to the leadership in the care facilities. Flatening of hierarchy is important, as well as non-prifit model. All stakeholders need to be included.

56:50 People in direct care are normally not heard in the hierarchical system. We need to set the system upside down.

27:50 People taking care privately for family members are left out and without money when the cared for person dies. If you haven’t payed into the system you get no pension. Also in America! Examples.

31:10 Childcare, yes.- elder care: where is it? What do we need to do to change that? In next 5 years there will be more people over 60 than under 17. Is it fear of getting old oneself to push the topic far away? Also that families are not together anymore. Grandparents for hire?

34:00 Learning from each other. We want to share our understanding and learning, often younger ones don’t ask but prefer to re-invent the wheel and make the same mistakes again.

35:45 Is their the tendency of generations coming back togather? Share the rooms of college students and nursing homes as an option. Both benefit greatly.

37:10 “Integral sageing” in Bolder and on Facebook. Bonnie about Integral and Spiral Dynamics . Appreciation for the quadrants which gives us a better way to work through the issues. Inner leadership aspect: Resources help to find out about and gain clarity oneself before going into the group. Examples.

40:40 Planning of the group? Facilitative leadership for networks. Integral sageing as a good way to find out inside what is going on, dealing with our angst, getting clear about own focus and becoming compassionate with people on their own journey.

43:25 Fear of dying?  Bonnie: educating caregivers “Trauma informed care” – traumas come often up before dying. Caregiver is confronted with finding out the need of the person: mostly talk and touch. Examples.  100 questions of the “Trauma informed care” Difficulty for the family to del with the trauma expressions of people. You need also selfcare, but leaving and send those people away is not really nice. We need to change our culture to see and handle challenging situations.

50:25 Bonnie’s story: how the father handles the great depression. Mum wouldn’t speak about her difficulty. When elders can speak about ntheir dramas the suffering of the world could be alleviated. Talking about the pain can help! Tell your life story!

Heidi talks about the story of Frank Magwegwe we listened to in South Africa. Caritas Uwizera, her survivng the genocide in Rwanda. Listening to the story of others let you understand that you are not alone. Telling ones story inspires others.

54:30 “The Elderly Listening Club”. Tell your story, connect with us. Conscious Ageing series 6

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid:
Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging: (see especially the Volunteer Guardian Program)
Reinventing Organizations: with access to research links:
Great Britain now has a minister of loneliness:
Servant Leadership:
Eden Alternative (Elder-Centered Care model):
Eldercare stipend for family members offering care:
College students living in Eldercare residences:
Integral Sageing in Boulder, Colorado, USA:
Integral movement:
Spiral Dynamics Integral:
The Churning: Inner Leadership:
Getting comfortable with death early in life:
Hospice & Palliative Care:
Trauma Informed Care:
Adverse Childhood Experiences test:

Article: Millennials The New Caregivers

Heidi and Mark with Ashton Applewhite, leading activist against ageism

Heidi in conversation with Rica Viljoen