Violin Dazzles Young Virtuoso and His Audience

img_0804AgeSong community members welcome back Timothy McClure, a young violin virtuoso, during the holiday season.  He performed in the Forget-Me-Not Cafe November 2.  Stay tuned for return visits.


Timothy began violin lessons for one reason: more time with Mom, who also happened to be his violin teacher. As wonderful as that time was, he continued his studies because the violin dazzled him. Timothy pursued his passion by traveling hundreds of miles to study with teachers along the Atlantic sea board, then a couple thousand more to study violin performance at Brigham Young University. He and his violin became proficient in classical, Celtic fiddle, and Bluegrass styles. They are happy to perform throughout the Bay Area and beyond, in symphonic, chamber music, and solo venues. Competitions Timothy has won include the First Stage Competition in West Virginia, the Wintergreen Music Festival Audience Favorite Award, and the NFMC Oscar Valentine Violin Competition. Summer music camp/festival appearances include Music in the Mountains Suzuki Institute, the Fry Street Quartet Chamber camp, the Wintergreen Music Festival, and the BYU Spring Opera.

Building Relationships through Dance & Movement

The goal of the weekly Elders Academy session was to  demonstrate how dance movements can be used to build relationships. Participants included Hayes/Laguna community members of varying abilities and memory, gerowellness interns, and staff.

After an explanation of the four stages of an exercise regime (warm-up, aerobics, resistance, and cool-down), Cuo,  visiting dance therapist, demonstrated sitting stretches and breath work .

During the resistance stage (muscle building), interns and elders worked in pairs. When Cuo progressed to aerobics, community members started dancing.  The floor livened up.

Intergenerational relationship building through non-verbal dance & movement, and other forms of meaningful engagement. That’s AgeSong.

Halloween, No One Left Out at Forget-Me-Not Cafe






Banana Ghosts, Deviled Eggs, Tangerine Pumpkins, All Prepared by Chef David


The Forget-Me-Not Cafe is Now Open to the Public

Now Open to the Public Afternoons Monday through Saturday.

logo for AgeSong's Forget-Me-Not Cafe

The Forget-Me-Not Cafe is located at the corner of Hayes & Laguna, in Hayes Valley, the most ‘happening” neighborhood in SF.

The Cafe is now officially open to visitors Monday through Saturday afternoons.

Visitors welcome: including families, neighborhood elders with disabilities, and adults with forgetfulness (must be accompanied by family member or escort), are welcome to join community members in both structured and spontaneous groups, as well as engage in informal conversations.

Following is a general schedule of activities:

(a) Mon., Piano & Song, Brain Games;
(b) Tues.,Cooking Demo & Discussion, Flower Arranging;
(c) Wed., Elders Academy, FreeForm Art;
(d) Thurs., ArmChair Travel, Games;
(e) Fri. Toy Project/TGIF Dance Party;
(f) Sat. Live Entertainment.

Contact Sally Gelardin, Engagement Director at for more

Daily participatory snacks are fresh from the kitchen. All activities are subject to change at any time.

AgeSong Communities are Culture Hopping



Twenty-one rapt listeners, including community members, staff, care partner, volunteer, and family members, enjoyed a SF Conservatory of Music mezzo-soprano and pianist Sunday, October 23 at AgeSong’s Laguna Terrace.


 Back at the Hayes/Laguna communities, others were enjoying the sports on tv and Sunday afternoon movies.  In the morning, folks enjoyed exercise and a tea ceremony in the Forget-Me-Not Cafe. Freedom to be….and to engage at all the AgeSong communities!



At the same time as the  SF Conservatory of Music recital , another group of elders, from both AgeSong at Hayes/Laguna and AgeSong University, some of whom were contributing artists, attended the Art for Elders annual art exhibit.





The day before, AgeSong at WoodPark elders were mesmerized by Chinese traditional music played by high school student Lu Wang and friends, who also displayed their talent in sketching community members.

It was a “Cultural Hopping” weekend for the AgeSong’s elder communities.



AgeSong Communities Launch “Grooming Lounge”

Three days a week, AgeSong at WoodPark, Laguna Grove, Hayes Valley, and Univeristy are launching a Grooming Lounge, based on the principle that when you look good and feel good, your quality of life is better, no matter what age or stage you are. Following are some of the tools that are currently used or planned to be implemented at WoodPark to enhance wellbeing:

  • Warm towels
  • Face Yoga
  • Home Made Facial Masques (i.e., avocado, oatmeal, yoghurt)
  • Cucumber Eye Packs
  • Gentle Hand Massage
  • Hand Soaks
  • Temporary Non-Toxic Henna Tatoos
  • Hand Dancing
  • Using Technology to See Yourself as Younger or Older or with Different Hairdos or Mustaches
  • Decorative Nails (Non-Toxic Polish Remover)
  • Self Shoulder Massage
  • Neck Roll (like on airplane, to keep spine straight)
  • Balancing a Book on Your Head
  • Dressing Up  and Making Up as Movie Star from the Past (Calendar)
  • Hand Exercise
  • Home Made Hand Creams
  • Aromatherapy
  • Tea Ceremony
  • Soft Background Music
  • Many more….

Is it a Passive “Activity” or is it Engagement?

In AgeSong’s newest publication, “What Makes AgeSong Special,” the question is posed:  “Is it a Passive “Activity” or is it Engagement?”  Research shows that social interaction is one of the most important benefits of community living.

Traditional providers offer calendars, filled with bingo or isolating activities using MP3s and headphones.  While there is nothing wrong with any of these approaches, AgeSong prefers to engage Elders, rather than predominantly to entertain them.

“Getting To Know You” is one of the most engaging activities that AgeSong offers.  Each new member of the community is invited to talk about his or her social, intellectual, physical, and spiritual preferences.  New community members also discuss their hopes, successes, favorite foods, time they like to get up in the morning, and other personal characteristics.

After new members of the community have introduced themselves, others in the group introduce themselves to the new member.  Everyone gets a chance to share.  At one such sharing, the group discovered that one elder had 12 children.  At another sharing, two elders recognized each other because they had played basketball together at a sports club. Mutual interests are discovered in this interactive group. Almost everyone loves music, all kinds of music. At some point in the conversation, someone usually starts humming the tune to “Getting To Know You,” and the group takes a break from the conversation to sing this familiar song from “The King and I” movie (Rogers and Hammerstein, 1951).

This popular and meaningful “Getting To Know You” Exercise is based on the “Person-Centered Sociogram.” (Best-Martini et al, Long Term Care, 2011). ”

Work cited:

Best-Martini, E, Weeks, M.A., Wirth, P. Long Term Care for Activity Professionals, Social Services Professionals, and Recreational Therapists, Sixth Edition. Idyll Arbor, Inc. 360.825.7797.

Mexican Visitors Learn and Share at AgeSong Communities

Mexican high school seniors visited all four AgeSong communities Sunday, December 20, 2015.  When asked why they chose to visit AgeSong, they responded, “to learn from elders,” “to help elders,” “to discover elders’ values,” “to have fun”!

At the end of the three-hour visit at AgeSong University, when asked if the visit met their expectations, they all said, “Yes” and described individual elders with whom they had formed relationships and listened to their stories.

Each student led a stretching exercise in the morning, then everyone (old and young) danced.

AgeSong’s Central Vision

by Nader Shabahangi, AgeSong Founder and CEO

AgeSong and Pacific Institute are vision-driven organizations. This means that people who belong to these organizations understand their work as contributing to a larger vision of a more loving and aware world that makes room for the many diverse expressions of all there exists. At its core, AgeSong is grounded on the belief that we live in an interdependent world where all is related with and to each other. As such, AgeSong emphasizes a relational model of working together as opposed to a model that believes in absolutes, that is in one right way of being and doing.

At AgeSong’s elder communities, we strive to create, both in theory and practice, a place where we can allow people to be who they are, a place where the intention of those with whom they interact, such as carepartners (commonly termed caregivers) staff, interns, family, and volunteers) is to understand more deeply about the Other facing them. As such, AgeSong desires to create learning organizations where we ask such basic questions as the following: Who are we? What helps? How do we help? What does it mean to live, to age? How do we age? At AgeSong, our intentions are to take a stance of curiosity rather than knowing, to understand how we best care for the other and to appreciate difference as much as homogeneity.

At AgeSong’s elder communities, AgeSong and Pacific Institute implement the foundational belief that all phenomena we humans experience are meaningful and important for a deepening of human awareness and for the enjoyment of life. This belief understands phenomena normative society designates as undesirable, even deviant – through labels such as disturbance, disorder, illness or disease – as essential for understanding and living human life. Among the phenomena mainstream regards as unwelcome belong also aging and old age and often any behavior different from what we consider normal, ‘appropriate’, or ‘well adjusted’. AgeSong elder communities share in the belief of the meaningfulness of all phenomena through by creating therapeutic environments at its elder communities. In this spirit, AgeSong works together with Pacific Institute to combine resources, apply internship training, and implement AgeSong’s varied and diverse specialized programs. These specialized programs are modeled on an existential, processwork philosophy and psychology that are non-comparative and do not pathologize. Such a philosophy and way of life do not separate the world into good or bad, right or wrong, better or worse. As such, this philosophy and practice stands in contrast to present-day mainstream perspectives with their emphasis on dividing the world into things that are more desirable and less desirable.

At this time, the following programs are being implemented at AgeSong senior communities:

• Community Living (Assisted Living Care)
• Forgetfulness (‘Dementia’) Care
• Engagement and Outings
• Expressive Arts Therapies
• Gero-Psychological Care
• Spiritual Care (Interfaith)
• Palliative (Hospice) Care

The intent of these seven programs is to address the many different facets and dimensions of aging, old age and of being human in as comprehensive a way as possible. The central concern of all of these programs is to educate and train carepartners, staff and interns in a basic attitudinal shift. At the heart of this shift is learning to perceive life as meaningful. Though seeing something better than something else, such differentiation and judgment are necessary in some parts of life, applying this attitude without discrimination to the care of the human being marginalizes and perpetuates suffering.

Towards an Attitude of Curiosity and Acceptance

An existential, processwork-oriented attitude that lies at the foundation of an AgeSong therapeutic environment approaches human beings and the world we inhabit with an attitude of curiosity and acceptance. It is this attitude of curiosity and acceptance in which both AgeSong and Pacific Institute would like to train carepartners, staff, volunteers, and interns. Such an attitude welcomes and enjoys difference. It understands perceived difference as an opportunity for growth, and thus wants to learn from it.

Stated personally:

“From each difference I perceive in the other allows me to see a part within myself that may as yet be unfamiliar to me. That which I perceive as different is different because I do not identify with it or know yet. What I know already I do not regard as different or ‘other’. It is my attitude towards difference that is essential here.”

I have a choice to reject or accept difference. In rejecting difference I state that the ‘other’ is not part of me, is not worthy of being understood further. But would I not want to understand what I don’t know if it could help me understand myself better? In accepting difference I state that there is something I can learn from the other, something that deepens my awareness of myself, hence the world within which I live.

This attitude of acceptance and curiosity translates into the way each of the specialized programs is carried out. For example, in assisted living care the special needs of the elderly residents are met with an attitude that understands each need as a way the elderly communicate their unique difference to us. All kinds of possibilities can lay behind a community member’s tentative or slow walk, need to be fed, or desire to be quiet for a long time. Rather than ‘seeing’ these ways of being as aberrant, we might understand them as ways of expression in their own right. This holds true as well for those elderly who seem to forget what they once knew, appear confused to us in the way they go about their daily lives. If we do not judge forgetfulness or confusion as abnormal, but rather as the way this particular individual now lives his or her life, then we could see the wisdom behind this change and difference. As importantly, we can enrich our own lives with another way of being we did not imagine or ‘see’ before.

Educating and Training a New Generation of Carepartners and Interns

The central task in teaching and educating a new generation of managers, administrators, supervisors, coordinators, interns, carepartners and volunteers is to start with showing how each of us holds certain beliefs, values, ways of seeing people and the world. The purpose here is to have us become clearer about how our beliefs shape our perception and thus determine how we see our world. It is important to show how, for example, what we judge to be undesirable or aberrant can also be seen as something valuable, even enjoyable. Working primarily experientially, we are invited to probe in ourselves for character and behavior traits with which we would normally not identify. In this way we may begin to first notice and then counter the tendency to judge whatever may be in front of us.

Another training consists of learning to make contact with one’s own ‘inner elder’. This training conveys a connectedness to the wise part in oneself. This part allows us to learn to look at life and living from the ‘long view’. In such a perspective all phases of life are seen as important for the creation of a full life.

Central to the attitude of acceptance and curiosity is learning to be cognizant about our expectations. Noticing our expectations, becoming explicit of them, helps us be in and with the moment. We develop a ‘beginner’s mind’ attitude where we feel more and more comfortable with not knowing what will be, what should happen. This attitude allows us to enjoy what is. Enjoying the beauty of the moment means enjoying life, enjoying all that happens. This enjoyment is based on us being present with the unexpected events that often go unnoticed: the graceful movement of an elder, the faint smile, the warm hand I touch, the green plant I see, the food I taste, the raindrops I hear.

Important in this shift to an attitude of acceptance and curiosity is learning the art of listening. This involves as much noticing our desire to speak as our tendency to assume what the other is saying. Language, however, both verbal and non-verbal, is very complex and difficult to understand fully. Every word, movement and expression contains multiple meanings, often unknown even to the person communicating. Here trainees will learn ways to listen and understand, to take time paraphrasing and helping the other search for understanding.

Warriorship of the Heart

What we want to communicate to the world ought to be congruent with our message itself. At AgeSong we desire to communicate to others that we would like to re-define aging as an important phase of life. This phase of life is given special importance through re-establishing the role of eldership in our culture and society. To be truthful with others we need to model the ways of elders ourselves: being attentive listeners who continually practice being aware of what occurs in the moment, within and without.

The Seven Specialized Programs

All seven programs are based on the same attitudinal shift towards a loving curiosity and acceptance of the other. The only difference is the form this loving attitude takes. In assisted living care, carepartners practice their loving attitude of acceptance and curiosity when they bathe, groom, feed, walk, and otherwise help, support and sit with our residents. In forgetfulness care, carepartners and interns practice an attitude of curiosity and acceptance when they work with elders’ attempt to remember, find their room, walk the hallway, search for contact, do activities or engage in the many different forms of communication and relating. In expressive arts therapies, interns, staff lovingly follow community members’ many diverse attempts in being creative and expressive. In our spiritual care program residents encounter a safe place where they can express their struggle for meaning and their search for the transpersonal aspects of life. In our memory improvement, interns in training work patiently and lovingly with elders’ desire to remember and to stay cognitively active. In hospice care, elders find acceptance in the way they are and need to be as they move through their process of dying.

Once the attitudinal shift to a loving curiosity and acceptance of the other – whether the other be community members, family members, or carepartners, staff, and interns – has been made, the above programs meld into one. This means that whether we do expressive arts, memory training or assisted living care, the basic attitude with which we undertake each program always follows the process of the elder moment to moment.

A Different Model of Doing Business

At AgeSong we try to walk the talk. The way we care for our organization, for people and things ought to reflect the way we would like to care for community members. This is what we mean by staying aware of the Circle of Care – as I do to do, you will do to others, to yourself. This circle of care extends not only to the people who work with AgeSong, but includes the community and environment, the larger world in which our organization lives. As such, our organization desires to stay aware of this interrelationship by paying attention to how it cares for and relates to this world. Concretely, we try to remember that there are different bottom lines, that return on investment does not only refer to a monetary return but also to what we return to our workers and our community, near and far.
For additional reading and study, please view:

Process Work on the Arni and Amy Mindell website.

From Mindell:
What is Processwork?
“Processwork is the art, science, and the psychology of following the nature of individuals, communities, and eco-systems.
What is this nature exactly? It appears in the descriptions or self- descriptions of nature and people, as well as the subtler often missed signals and deep experiences of everyone and everything involved. Following this nature is often a great help for everyone involved. Following nature often gives meaning and necessary change.
Processwork, also called process-oriented psychology, is a multicultural, multi-leveled awareness practice including people and their natural environment. It is an evolving, trans-disciplinary approach supporting individuals, relationships and organizations to discover themselves.
Processwork uses awareness to track psychological and physical processes that illuminate and possibly resolve inner, relationship, organizational, and world issues. Processwork theories and methods, skills and metaskills are available for anyone to experience and can be tested.
Processwork Applications:
Processwork can be used to help people in all states of consciousness, that is in so called normal awareness states, or in altered states such as psychotic or extreme states, comatose and near-death states. It can be applied to psychological problems, body symptoms, groups, organizations, governments, and has been used for very young and very old people.”

More Info on Processwork

Read more about What is Process Work?

Books by Arnold Mindell:

City Shadows: Psychological Interventions in Psychiatry 

The Quantum Mind and Healing: How to Listen and Respond to Your Body’s Symptoms

The Shaman’s Body: A New Shamanism for Transforming Health, Relationships, and the Community

Dance of the Ancient One

The Deep Democracy of Open Forums: Practical Steps to Conflict Prevention and Resolution for the Family, Workplace, and World