One step into a Lantern Group community, and it’s evident that it was designed to celebrate life, because a love of life is exactly what drives Jean Makesh, Lantern Group’s founder and CEO. Not only does he value life in all its forms, but he also sees value in all of life’s stages. Jean has dedicated his career to changing the concept of age by applying his knowledge and experiences to impact policies and practices—and the mindset—surrounding elderly care. His personal mission is to educate and equip the elderly, their families, and their caregivers with resources and knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease, from prevention to treatment.
From the age of 24 until founding Lantern Group, Jean held various executive positions with Sundance Rehabilitation, the country’s largest rehabilitation service provider, overseeing compliance portion of rehab services for 120 nursing homes across 12 states. Early on, he was struck by the way he saw elders living their lives. He knew something was missing and that something had to change. “I want to live my life on my terms, the way I prefer and desire, so it became a personal goal of mine to make that possible—not just for me, but for everyone,” he says. “I needed to create an environment where people not only come to live but to thrive. No matter how old you are, you should be able to live your life the way you desire and prefer.”
Lantern Group: Innovative Communities Where Seniors Thrive
Lantern Group is a developer and operator of innovative assisted living and memory care communities, designed to help people live longer, healthier lives. These communities are designed to be healing environments, allowing elderly residents to continue engaging in daily living activities. “Our belief is that where one lives and plays should inspire, motivate, and facilitate the healing process. We feel we can use all five senses, along with the environment, to support healthy aging,” Jean says.
Lantern Group’s communities have a world-renowned cognitive care program, drawing students, journalists, and foreign government officials from as far away as Finland and Dubai. The novel program slows the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia by taking advantage of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to adapt and change), helping to rewire the brain and treat cognitive impairment, not placate it. “We want people to thrive, to be as independent as possible, and function at their highest level of potential,” Jean says. An important aspect of their therapeutic program is Jean’s patented retro-virtual time capsule that promotes functional independence and stimulates learning by helping trigger existing memories.
Currently, Lantern Group has three senior lifestyle communities in Ohio—Lantern of Madison, Lantern of Chagrin Valley, and Lantern of Saybrook—all of which were constructed with biophilic design. This design style is based on the innate need of humans to be connected to each other and to nature. The lighting throughout the day follows the natural circadian rhythm, accented by a virtual sky ceiling, which mirrors the actual weather outside. Each unit is crafted to look like a home, with a porch and a carpet made to mimic green grass. There are natural plants and water features, and even a 17-hole putting course. “We inspire attitude, posture, and engagement through natural elements and the senses. When I walk through my buildings, I feel at peace, and I hear the same sentiment from others,” Jean says.
Living longer, healthier lives is also the impetus for Lantern Group’s newest project, The Centenarian, with the first location soon to break ground in Ohio. This project is based on areas of the world where people are said to live longer than in other regions. The goal of The Centenarian project is to replicate those spaces and lifestyles in an intergenerational, green, smart city.
Jean is perpetually “pushing the envelope,” looking for ways to do things better, for new opportunities to engage. His love of life and genuine desire to improve others’ quality of life doesn’t stop with his clients, it extends to his employees, too. He continuously nurtures a sense of belonging and a culture of innovation among his staff. “For me, going to work is like going on vacation,” he shares. “It’s building that culture where people feel valued, and respected, and loved, and cared for. Because I love and respect my employees, I don’t really have to teach them how to care for a client, it just comes naturally.”
Jean Makesh holds both an undergraduate and post-graduate degree in occupational therapy, as well as an MBA.
Founder & CEO — Lantern Group