In this AgeSong Vision Training video we join Nader Shabahangi, CEO of AgeSong, speaking with AgeSong trainees about the AgeSong Vision during the AgeSong Orientation and Training in August of 2015. This AgeSong Vision Training video is a great introduction to the inner workings of AgeSong and how the AgeSong Vision fosters the AgeSong Exceptional Assisted Living experience for both residents and staff.
An Introduction to the AgeSong Vision
Nader introduces the AgeSong Vision and discusses some differences between AgeSong residential communities and the “standard” assisted living residential model.
One of the main differences is in approach to resident life. AgeSong treats their residents as Elders; Elders are thought of as teachers who are giving to their community and to those working in the community. This is in contrast to the passive role residents experience in a more mainstream assisted living residence where the workers exert more control over the residents.
AgeSong Vision Training: Emphasis on Relationships
AgeSong Vision promotes relationships and relational care within the communities. As an example of relational care in an AgeSong residential community, Nader sets up a role play with the trainees where he plays a resident who does not want to put one of his shoes on.
One version of the role play really shows the “relational” approach used at AgeSong.
In this role play Vincent, in the role of Care Partner, did not make the shoe the most important point of contact when he realized the resident was having an issue with everyone wanting the resident to put on his shoe. Vincent made the “individual” more important; he made the relationship important. He asked the resident to put his shoe on and when the resident refused, Vincent asked if he could sit with the resident. By doing this, by sitting with the resident on an even level and having a short chat a connection was made and the goal was accomplished through “relationship” vs through controlling the resident.
The AgeSong Vision gives Control to Residents
Residents are given as much control in daily life as is safely possible. AgeSong works to increase an elders choices in daily life. Also there is a constant evaluation to try to find ways to increase residents choices to give them aspects they can control.
The AgeSong Vision is About Respect for the Resident and the Relationship
Respect for the resident as individual is important in the AgeSong Vision. Take entering a residents room. Build the relationship by showing respect to the resident when entering a residents home. Knock, introduce yourself, say the resident’s name before entering. If the resident does not answer, please announce yourself and inform them if you will be entering, giving them the opportunity to respond. The AgeSong Vision is to emphasize respect and relationship in all aspects of care and contact.
The AgeSong Vision Views the Residents and Elders who are Teachers
In AgeSong Assisted Living Communities we look at the residents as Elders; people who have things to give to us, they teach us, they are our school. AgeSong is like a university almost, a place to learn.
What can Elders teach us? They can teach us values: like Kindness, Patience, Love, Empathy and more. Elders are “related,” and are very interested in those around them. At AgeSong we can learn from them the values they have learned over a lifetime lived. We incorporate those into our working life at AgeSong.
The AgeSong Vision Promotes Mindfulness and Being Present
Elders teach us “Mindfulness.” Being present, be in the moment. You can show that by respect and consideration in our daily routine. How can we be ‘present’ in the moment? Come in leave our phone aside, engage and develop relationships.
At AgeSong we use “Forgetfulness” Instead of “Dementia”
AgeSong does not call changing cognition “dementia.” At AgeSong these conditions are referred to as “forgetfulness.” Why doesn’t AgeSong use the term “dementia”? There are numerous reasons to refrain from using the word dementia.
One reason is “the individual is not the disease” and the idividual is not a problem. We do not want to focus on a “problem” we want to focus on the whole individual.
Secondly there is stigma associated with dementia, it is a negative term that provokes negative responses and alienates that person from others.
Also if you say someone has dementia then you are actually saying that they are “different and separate” from everyone else. Using the term forgetfulness helps us stay related to one another. We are related to those who are forgetful as we all experience forgetfulness.
AgeSong Communities in the Bay Area
Nader discusses the structure of AgeSong and the emphasis on Community. In San Francisco, there is AgeSong Hayes Valley, AgeSong Laguna Grove, and AgeSong University Care. The Oakland community is AgeSong WoodPark.
AgeSong is not just a Job it is an Opportunity for Growth
Working at AgeSong is a paycheck but in some ways it is also like a Spiritual practice. You are growing as a person. Coming to work and learning. Everyday AgeSong employees come in and are working with vulnerable people, frail people, and people who teach them. Everyday they are coming to a class, they are coming to learn.
The Origins of AgeSong
Nader also walks through the origins of the word “AgeSong.” AgeSong: Meditations for our Later Years is a book written by Elizabeth Bugental after the loss of her best friend. She was reflecting on how one’s elder years can give us the opportunity to decide how we would really like to live the final phase of our life. How in our elder years we can have the courage to do life “our way;” freeing ourselves from the artificial restrictions that we accept in our younger years.
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