Geriatric Fellows and related medical professionals from UCSF completed a tour at AgeSong’s Hayes Valley and Laguna Grove communities Friday, May 1 with a new view of aging and eldercare.
According to Elaine Chow, Education Coordinator for the UCSF Division of Geriatrics, the purpose of the visit was “to provide Geriatrics Fellows from the UCSF Housecalls Program with a glimpse of assisted living facilities in San Francisco.” Elaine continued, “Our goals is to show the Fellows the resources Age Song can provide to their patients. Our Fellows are physicians pursuing advanced training in the care of older adults. We feel that it is valuable for them to have an understanding of your role and field in their care of adults in the last years of their life.” She continued, “The Fellows spend every Friday morning with us to help care for Housecalls patients as a way to learn about home-based care in the community. As part of their training, we include a series of weekly didactics and site visits to help them learn about resources to keep frail older adults safe at home and in the community.”
Dr. Helen Kao, MD, Medical Director, UCSF Geriatrics Clinical Programs, contacted Agesong in December, 2014, to set up the tour. She said, “We would love to bring our 4 fellows this academic year to Agesong for a site visit to see your model of RCFE care for dementia. We’ve had many patients over the years who live at Agesong and have always been impressed with the considerate care and in depth understanding of dementia that Agesong provides.”
Sally Gelardin, AgeSong’s Engagement and Education Regional Director, and Mona Moxley, AgeSong’s Gerowellness Intern Advisor, provided the Fellows and related UCSF medical professionals with an overview of the AgeSong philosophy and guided visitors around the Hayes and Laguna communities so that they could see first-hand how the philosophy is applied in the communities.
The visitors discovered that AgeSong’s view of eldercare is quite different from the generally held perceptions of residents of assisted living communities. “We respect members of our communities,” noted their guides, “no matter what age or stage.” Dr. Gelardin continued, “I learn most from those who talk and move the least. They teach me to slow down. Memory loss is similar to meditation. Those with forgetfulness tend to worry less about the past or the future and are more apt to focus on the present, to see the light streaming through the windows and feel the gentle breeze, as we sit and talk. During our Elders Academy every Wednesday afternoon, we invite community members, as well as staff, volunteers, and visitors. Guess who participates most in the discussions? The elders!”
Dr. Moxley described AgeSong’s “Guru Project” to the visitors, noting that the goal of the project is to reduce the use of psychotropic drugs by applying psycho-social and other interventions that address unmet needs of individuals. AgeSong’s gerowellness interns meet in care plans weekly with staff to identify needs and develop strategies to meet these needs.
As the visitors toured each floor of the AgeSong communities, Dr. Gelardin asked them to think about how they would want to experience eldercare at that stage of their lives. The group photograph above, taken at the end of the tour, shows the visitors’ impressions of their experience at AgeSong.