NOW is the time for the Senior Living Industry to get better!

Following is a response to Senior Housing Forum  6/7/17 post, “The Senior Living Industry Is A Disaster And Will Never Get Better.”  Steve Moran, publisher,  brought up several commonly held views of senior living that are addressed in this article.

  • Owners and operators are greedy.
  • Companies don’t really care about residents, or family members.
  • Nobody is willing to change.
  • The industry is too expensive.


Owners and operators are greedy. Companies don’t really care about residents, or family members.

Owners and operators are like everyone else.  They care about residents and family members. Some just don’t know how to demonstrate their care, and at the same time, remain solvent and build their public and/or private business.

“Care” is based on the same roots as “career” – “carros,” or “karros,” a word in many languages that mean “wagon” or “wagonload.” Owners and operators are carrying a heavy weight in a cart that bounces along a rocky road, not knowing exactly where they are going.

The senior living industry a tough industry, in which people who live in the communities are physically declining and dying. Many owners and operators work in the industry for personal reasons, such as having cared for  a parent or close friend or having experienced working in various positions with residents in an assisted living or nursing community. As a result, they want to improve the quality of care for community members.

According to Nader Shabahangi, founder and CEO of  AgeSong’s elder communities for over 20 years:

At one point, the senior living industry only saw its role as one that assisted elders with basic living needs, not to help them live in meaningful communities that provide continued integration of elders in and with society. The former approach often led to the valid criticism of senior care providers ‘warehousing’ elders.  This warehousing criticism was based on an overall simplistic approach to eldercare which led to large profit margins in the industry. Now developers and operators have a difficult time to let go of such margins. But in order to provide more sophisticated and intelligent care, more professionals in social work, psychology and other human services need to be employed, all people who cost more.*

 Nobody is willing to change.

Like most of us,  many senior living owners and operators don’t know how to change. The senior living industry, like other industries in the 21st Century, is in constant flux, because so much new information is coming in every day. In order for decisions to be made, information needs to be absorbed, digested, and shared. Owners and operators need to be ready to try different solutions and be open to changing a decision if a better solution comes along.

We all, including owners and operators, need to change the way we view terminology, such as “care” and “caregiving.” If we change the meaning of “caregiving” to “care partnering,” where owners, operators, family members, staff, and residents learn from each other, instead of of “caring for” residents, then we have a whole new approach to the senior living industry.

If we change the term “residents” to “community members,” then we equalize the playing field.  Community members are like everyone else, including owners and operators.  They happen to have one or more disability that requires assistance.  Who doesn’t have one or more disability that requires assistance? How many owners and operators know how to operate the technology used in their communities? How many owners and operators make all their own meals? We all need care and we all have varying abilities!

When we see something we like or dislike about another person, we have that quality in ourselves. We see community members who are depressed, afraid of declining and eventually dying.  Are we afraid of getting older? losing some of our memory and/or physical ability? Dying? The more we communicate meaningfully with community members, the more we learn about ourselves. All levels of employees need to be engaging with community and family members throughout each day.

Committed assisted living community staff and management often experience burnout, working long hours for low pay compared to other industries. According to Nader, “The carepartners, who belong to the lowest paid people in the United States – yet are asked with helping our elders (one time that will be you) in most intimate and relational ways – are tired of working two and sometimes three jobs to make ends meet.”

What if management, staff members and volunteers identify what they love to do and then explore how they can use their passions to fill a need in society, as advocated by Richard Bolles, whose career book, What Color is Your Parachute?, has sold 10 million copies all over the world?

What if they first experience a self-assessment of their motivated skills through a Knowdell card sort,  (physically arranged the cards, rather than taking a paper and pencil assessment), and then apply their motivated skills to meet the perceived needs and preferences of community members in a way they could provide quality services for community and family members? For example, if a staff member or volunteer likes to write, she could interview community members and transcribe interviews for Pen Pal letters to elders in other assisted living communities.  If an executive director has language teaching skills, he could conduct a staff English speaking session once a week.

What if we changed the way we view elders?

Nader says:

The profit margins of yesterday belong to an outdated concept of who are our elders: not useless members of society but rather highly mature, experienced as well as knowledgable people whose wisdom must be used to steer this planet and people in more sensible directions, whose experience can maintain certain ethical and rational standards of sustainability for both civil conduct and care of our planet.*

For many years, at AgeSong’s elder communities, members of the community, at any age, stage or ability, have been invited to join “Elders Academy,” and to participate in groups together. The groups are often led by community members.  Individuals, who happen to have Parkinson’s, memory loss, aphasia, and other physical, emotional, or mental challenges, speak up, dance, sing, play music, have political, psychological, and philosophical discussions, and support each other. They are “meaningfully engaged,” rather that just “entertained” by professional entertainers.

Instead of dressing up the community for visits by current or prospective family members and state licensing representatives, management and staff members invite visitors to participate in the community. At AgeSong’s WoodPark community in Oakland, the daughter of a community member brought in a sewing box to engage her mother, who is deep into memory loss, with recollections about sewing, a hobby that her mother enjoyed in the past. The mother-daughter pair is joined by others who have interest in sewing. A family member led a men’s group. Family members play the piano and sing with community members. They hold birthday parties for their loved ones and invite members of the community to participate. Members of the community entertain their fellow elders playing the piano and singing familiar tunes. All management staff lead groups and walk the floors several times a day to engage with room-bound folk, as well as others who are roaming around the community or sitting in isolation in a public room. A “Family Connect” email is sent out weekly.  Quarterly “Champagne Brunches” are held for families and friends with their loved ones. Volunteers and entertainers return frequently because they are having such a good time with community members.

In addition to the basic required assisted living skills, line staff and management staff, along with community members, family and friends, volunteers, and visitors, are trained to apply concepts collectively developed by AgeSong management staff, such as the following:

• Providing Meaningful Engagement with Individuals of a wide range of Ages, Stages, Forgetfulness, & Abilities

• Finding Meaning in “Challenging Behaviors”

• Seeking to Understand, rather than Control

• Recognizing Mental and Physical Interconnectedness

• Celebrating a Variety of Spiritual Beliefs

• “Getting to Know” New Community Members

• “Learning From,” as well as “Providing Care For,” Elders

• Celebrating the Cultural Heritage of Community Members, Staff, and Visitors

 The industry is too expensive.

Why not design services and products that cut down industry costs and yet enhance quality of life? The time spent by care partners in providing basic living skills could be changed to “quality time.” Brushing hair could be a “beauty parlor” activity.  Showering could be a “spa” event.  Dressing  could be the “Queen’s Dressing Table.”

Changing adult briefs every two hours takes much too much staff time, energy, and financial resources.  How about changing how we view this unpleasant task to “Groom of the Stool?”  Ben Franklin invented the flexible catheter for his brother in 1752. How about using urinary or other type of catheters?


Most of today’s senior living community owners and operators are not greedy. They passionately care about the folks who live in their elder communities ( and are willing to change. Like most of us,  many owners and operators just don’t know how to change, and at the same time stay within budget and make a profit. We all need to expand our vision of who elders are and how to both fill the needs of others and work with passion.

Nader says:

Elders are a resource, not a liability. Aging allows us to mature, not to decline. This shift in attitude towards our elders and anyone being older than what is considered young (and has that not moved to a younger and younger age with teenagers now being used in marketing and on billboards everywhere?!) – this shift, indeed, is the challenge ahead of us? Senior care providers can either help or obstruct the much needed attitudinal change towards valuing our more mature members of society.*

Companies really care about members of their community, staff, and family members. The industry is too expensive for most folk. There is a need to create products and services that keep costs down and keep improving quality.

NOW is the time for the Senior Living Industry to get better!



Dr. Sally Gelardin is an Elder Community Consultant.  As former Regional Director of Engagement and Education for AgeSong’s elder communities throughout the San Francisco Bay area, Career Planning and Adult Development Career Coach, and Career and Life Transitions Educator, she writes articles for industry and public media and designs training programs for paid and family “care partners” (alternative way of viewing “caregivers”), volunteers,  and community members on how to serve elders and how to be an elder. For more information, contact and view


Adler, J. Making Senior Living the Career of a Lifetime. Retrieved June 9, 2017:

Bolles, R. Why Pursuing Your Dream is Still Important. Retrieved June 9, 2017:

Career Planner.  How To Use the Knowdell Motivated Skills Card Sort. Retrieved June 9, 2017:

Fuller, J. Top 10 Ben Franklin Inventions: Urinary Catheter. Retrieved June 9, 2017:

Moran, S. The Senior Living Industry Is A Disaster And Will Never Get Better. June 7, 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2017:

*Shabahangi, N.  Reflections on Eldercare Today and In the Future. Retrieved June, 7, 2017.

Zarralli, N. It Was Once Someone’s Job to Chat with the King While He Used the Toilet. April 6, 2017.  Retrieved June 9, 2017:

Rachel Wonderland Lists “16 Things I Would Want If I Got Dementia”


16 Things I Would Want If I Got Dementia is a list I wrote in December 2014 that picked up a lot of traction on the Internet. The post was originally publicized on Alzheimer’s Reading Room. Want to re-post? Scroll down for information.

RACHEL WONDERLAND. Retrieved 3/10/16:

If I Get Dementia
  1. If I get dementia, I want my friends and family to embrace my reality. If I think my spouse is still alive, or if I think we’re visiting my parents for dinner, let me believe those things. I’ll be much happier for it.
  2. If I get dementia, I don’t want to be treated like a child. Talk to me like the adult that I am.
  3.  If I get dementia, I still want to enjoy the things that I’ve always enjoyed. Help me find a way to exercise, read, and visit with friends.
  4.  If I get dementia, ask me to tell you a story from my past.
  5.  If I get dementia, and I become agitated, take the time to figure out what is bothering me.
  6.  If I get dementia, treat me the way that you would want to be treated.
  7.  If I get dementia, make sure that there are plenty of snacks for me in the house. Even now if I don’t eat I get angry, and if I have dementia, I may have trouble explaining what I need.
  8.  If I get dementia, don’t talk about me as if I’m not in the room.
  9.  If I get dementia, don’t feel guilty if you cannot care for me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s not your fault, and you’ve done your best. Find someone who can help you, or choose a great new place for me to live.
  10.  If I get dementia, and I live in a dementia care community, please visit me often.
  11.  If I get dementia, don’t act frustrated if I mix up names, events, or places. Take a deep breath. It’s not my fault.
  12.  If I get dementia, make sure I always have my favorite music playing within earshot.
  13.  If I get dementia, and I like to pick up items and carry them around, help me return those items to their original places.
  14.  If I get dementia, don’t exclude me from parties and family gatherings.
  15.  If I get dementia, know that I still like receiving hugs or handshakes.
  16.  If I get dementia, remember that I am still the person you know and love.

Want to re-post this list? Rachel says:

This list is available on other websites, but the copyright does belong to me and to Alzheimer’s Reading Room. You are welcome to re-post it, but you MUST include a link to my website and my name, and also a note that it was originally published for Alzheimer’s Reading Room. You are NOT allowed to create a print of the poster and try to sell it.

RACHEL WONDERLAND. Retrieved 3/10/16:


Vegetarian Speaks Up


Stephen Gray, rofessional Football Freestyler, Sports/Exercise Psychology student & daily ponderer, discusses the benefits of being a vegetarian. The blogger gives many reasons for following a vegetarian diet and refers the reader to such movies as the following: Vegetated,  Fed Up, and Earthlings.

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Why I Went Vegetarian

It is by far the most common question that all vegetarians and vegans get asked:

“what made you do that?”

Read the entire article here:

It’s Not Only Children Who Suffer from Being “Home Alone”


Posted on  by Ilana W.


We tend to think of loneliness as something in the mind or in the heart that makes us feel sad and blue in a vague, intangible way. However, there is a great deal of evidence that social isolation has specific, measurable effects on the body, and this becomes more acute as we age. Loneliness and isolation can take their toll on older adults, but with some love, care, and consideration, you can help keep your loved from feeling alone.

Immunity Decreases with Social Isolation

According to a new study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,1 older adults who are socially isolated may be more susceptible to illnesses. These illnesses often involve bacterial and viral infections but can be chronic as well. According to the study, certain genes — such as those responsible for inflammation — became more active while others — like the ones that defend against viral infections — were suppressed. With this information in mind, it comes as no surprise that the isolated patients had a higher mortality rate than that of older adults in general.

Unmonitored Heart Disease Can Be Fatal

Heart disease is another common condition that can worsen as a patient has less and less contact with the outside world. Cardiac problems require a great deal of observation and updates to the plan of care. Older adults that suffer from heart disease commonly need regular doctor visits, medication monitoring, and regular, light, nutritious meals. Additionally, performing housekeeping tasks alone can be too strenuous for someone with a weakened heart. If no one is helping an older adult with heart disease to navigate day-to-day living, it’s easy to see how a heart condition can become fatal.

Falls Pose Serious Risk to Older Adults Living Alone

Many older adults are at risk for falls. This can be due to generalized weakness, decreased vision, and medications that affect balance. With prompt and appropriate attention, a fall can often be quickly remedied. But if no one else is around when an older adult falls, a fall can be deadly. Many older adults fear falls and for good reason: they don’t recover the way younger people do. While a middle-aged adult may get up with a few scrapes and bruises, older adults are much more like to break a bone – especially a hip. This is one of the biggest reasons older adults land in emergency rooms and the resulting mobility issues can lead to premature death.2 Whether you decide to be available to your loved one at home or opt to hiring in-home care services, you can take simple steps to prevent your loved one from suffering an injury after a fall.

Depression Shouldn’t Be Underestimated

One of the most prominent diseases that isolated older adults suffer is depression. Many people think of this mental illness as something that only affects the emotions but make no mistake – depression involves changes in brain chemistry that impact everything from energy level to appetite. And when it goes unaddressed, a person can neglect other aspects of their health. This can lead to fatalities from infection, uncontrolled diabetes, and even suicide. Caregivers who suspect their loved one may be suffering from depression don’t have to feel overwhelmed – many places like IOA provide counseling services or telephone check-ins. Our Friendship Line offers crisis intervention and emotional support to seniors feeling lonely, anxious, or depressed.

Dementia Can Go Unnoticed

Dementia can be one of the most dangerous conditions for older adults who live alone. Forgetfulness, confusion, and wandering aimlessly can easily lead to injury. Most forms of dementia are degenerative, meaning they get worse over time. And whereas sickness, falls, and heart disease manifest physicals symptoms that can see and diagnose, recognizing decreasing cognitive function in your loved one can be trickier. If no one is around to witness the slow and ongoing cognitive decline, it’s too easy for avoidable tragedies to occur.

Social Isolation Doesn’t Have to Wear on Your Loved One

Social isolation isn’t just psychologically and emotionally painful. There are physical effects associated with the feeling of loneliness, and these effects are perhaps most acute in aging adults. One of the best solutions is simply to spend more time with your homebound family member, but if that’s not possible, there are other options. Consider hiring a home health aide for a few hours a week of companionship. In addition to the mental health benefits, they can take care of tasks like light cooking, housekeeping, and transportation. Whatever you choose to do, by being aware of the true effects of loneliness and keeping an eye out for warning signs, you can minimize their impact on your loved one.

If you’re unsure how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.

    1. “Myeloid differentiation architecture of leukocyte transcriptome dynamics in perceived social isolation, October 21, 2015, ↩

– See more at:

Poet John Oliver Simon Inspires WoodPark Elders


By Karen Melander-Magoon, D.Min.

March 21, 2015

John Oliver Simon, poet with California Poets in the Schools, inspired  17 participants at AgeSong’s WoodPark elder and assisted living community on Saturday afternoon, March 21.

John said his greatest inspiration was his granddaughter and his now seven-year old muse, who objected to strangers knowing her only through her father’s poetry, so she and her dad came upon a nom de plume, “Isabella”.

John’s lovely evocation of a day at market with his then two-year-old granddaughter, who ended the day in the back seat of the car with her private “Choo” song, was just one of the many delightful moments participant were privy to through John Simon’s poetry.

His mother’s friends, who played the role of “Dad”, were all Jewish graduates of Ivy League colleges, according to one poetic description of his childhood. He also expressed in his poetry deep pride in going to school and playing ball with Lou Gehrig, who claimed, after suffering from the eponymous diagnosis of ALS (the same diagnosis that Steve Hawkings has), that he was perhaps the “happiest man alive.”

Luis, a participant in the poetry group, said, “John writes poetry that has motion.”  He added, “Especially in the reverie in which a five-year-old John is racing through grain higher than his head to escape a storm after watching his “dad, not my father” dive into a pond where the little boy was bouncing in a red inflatable vest under an ‘existential willow,’ feeling perhaps the lack of love between his parents and hoping in vain, as a little boy might well do, that the family will be whole and loving.”

As the group members opened up their own poetic thoughts, Bonnie, another participant, mentioned being published in the blog spot “GoInspireGo”. She shared the following poem she had written.

 A Poem by Bonnie

Many’s the time I have wondered —

“Why was I put here to wander or roam?

Where is my home? Who sent me and why?

Was I born just to die?”

“What is this place of confusion and madness where each smiling face conceal fear and sadness?”

“Have I a road which I must follow?

Or will I drift on like a poor little swallow with no one to care for the burdens I bare.

Oh the paths they are many,

oh they twist and they turn.

Take one I’ll find glory, take another I’ll burn,

but if love will just find me

and take me away

from these chains here that bind me

no more will I stray like a lamb in the glen.

For my heart will find courage,

and then I’ll find my goal and I’ll do my best

’til my body and soul shall both come to rest like the swallow—

the one whose finished her nest.”

All in all, a remarkable afternoon with a very expressive poet/educator who was willing to open a door to his heart, his emotions, his family and his very personal life, so that participants could come away richer for having had a glimpse through that door.  We look forward to more afternoons with John Oliver Simons at WoodPark.




Henrik Edberg Reflects on Gandhi’s 10 Rules for Changing the World

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems. –Mahatma Gandhi

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Gandhi’s 10 Rules for Changing the World

–by Henrik Edberg, syndicated from, Jun 28, 2013


“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.”

“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”

Mahatma Gandhi needs no long introduction. Everyone knows about the man who lead the Indian people to independence from British rule in 1947.

So let’s just move on to some of my favourite tips from Mahatma Gandhi.

1. Change yourself.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

If you change yourself you will change your world. If you change how you think then you will change how you feel and what actions you take. And so the world around you will change. Not only because you are now viewing your environment through new lenses of thoughts and emotions but also because the change within can allow you to take action in ways you wouldn’t have – or maybe even have thought about – while stuck in your old thought patterns.

And the problem with changing your outer world without changing yourself is thatyou will still be you when you reach that change you have strived for. You will still have your flaws, anger, negativity, self-sabotaging tendencies etc. intact.

And so in this new situation you will still not find what you hoped for since your mind is still seeping with that negative stuff. And if you get more without having some insight into and distance from your ego it may grow more powerful. Since your ego loves to divide things, to find enemies and to create separation it may start to try to create even more problems and conflicts in your life and world.

2. You are in control.

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

What you feel and how you react to something is always up to you. There may be a “normal” or a common way to react to different things. But that’s mostly just all it is.

You can choose your own thoughts, reactions and emotions to pretty much everything. You don’t have to freak out, overreact of even react in a negative way. Perhaps not every time or instantly. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction just goes off. Or an old thought habit kicks in.

And as you realize that no-one outside of yourself can actually control how you feel you can start to incorporate this thinking into your daily life and develop it as a thought habit. A habit that you can grow stronger and stronger over time. Doing this makes life a whole lot easier and more pleasurable.

3. Forgive and let it go.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

Fighting evil with evil won’t help anyone. And as said in the previous tip, you always choose how to react to something. When you can incorporate such a thought habit more and more into your life then you can react in a way that is more useful to you and others.

You realize that forgiving and letting go of the past will do you and the people in your world a great service. And spending your time in some negative memory won’t help you after you have learned the lessons you can learn from that experience. You’ll probably just cause yourself more suffering and paralyze yourself from taking action in this present moment.

If you don’t forgive then you let the past and another person to control how you feel. By forgiving you release yourself from those bonds. And then you can focus totally on, for instance, the next point.

4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

Without taking action very little will be done. However, taking action can be hard and difficult. There can be much inner resistance.

And so you may resort to preaching, as Gandhi says. Or reading and studying endlessly. And feeling like you are moving forward. But getting little or no practical results in real life.

So, to really get where you want to go and to really understand yourself and your world you need to practice. Books can mostly just bring you knowledge. You have to take action and translate that knowledge into results and understanding.

You can check out a few effective tips to overcome this problem in How to Take More Action: 9 Powerful Tips. Or you can move on to the next point for more on the best tip for taking more action that I have found so far.

5. Take care of this moment.

“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”

The best way that I have found to overcome the inner resistance that often stops us from taking action is to stay in the present as much as possible and to be accepting.

Why? Well, when you are in the present moment you don’t worry about the next moment that you can’t control anyway. And the resistance to action that comes from you imagining negative future consequences – or reflecting on past failures – of your actions loses its power. And so it becomes easier to both take action and to keep your focus on this moment and perform better.

Have a look at 8 Ways to Return to the Present Moment for tips on how quickly step into the now. And remember that reconnecting with and staying in the now is a mental habit – a sort of muscle – that you grow. Over time it becomes more powerful and makes it easier to slip into the present moment.

6. Everyone is human.

“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”

When you start to make myths out of people – even though they may have produced extraordinary results – you run the risk of becoming disconnected from them. You can start to feel like you could never achieve similar things that they did because they are so very different. So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is just a human being no matter who they are.

And I think it’s important to remember that we are all human and prone to make mistakes. Holding people to unreasonable standards will only create more unnecessary conflicts in your world and negativity within you.

It’s also important to remember this to avoid falling into the pretty useless habit of beating yourself up over mistakes that you have made. And instead be able to see with clarity where you went wrong and what you can learn from your mistake. And then try again.

7. Persist.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Be persistent. In time the opposition around you will fade and fall away. And your inner resistance and self-sabotaging tendencies that want to hold you back and keep you like you have always been will grow weaker.

Find what you really like to do. Then you’ll find the inner motivation to keep going, going and going. You can also find a lot of useful tips on how keep your motivation up in How to Get Out of a Motivational Slump and 25 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself.

One reason Gandhi was so successful with his method of non-violence was because he and his followers were so persistent. They just didn’t give up.

Success or victory will seldom come as quickly as you would have liked it to. I think one of the reasons people don’t get what they want is simply because they give up too soon. The time they think an achievement will require isn’t the same amount of time it usually takes to achieve that goal. This faulty belief partly comes from the world we live in. A world full of magic pill solutions where advertising continually promises us that we can lose a lot of weight or earn a ton of money in just 30 days. You can read more about this in One Big Mistake a Whole Lot of People Make.

Finally, one useful tip to keep your persistence going is to listen to Gandhi’s third quote in this article and keep a sense of humor. It can lighten things up at the toughest of times.

8. See the good in people and help them.

“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”

“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”

There is pretty much always something good in people. And things that may not be so good. But you can choose what things to focus on. And if you want improvement then focusing on the good in people is a useful choice. It also makes life easier for you as your world and relationships become more pleasant and positive.

And when you see the good in people it becomes easier to motivate yourself to be of service to them. By being of service to other people, by giving them value you not only make their lives better. Over time you tend to get what you give. And the people you help may feel more inclined to help other people. And so you, together, create an upward spiral of positive change that grows and becomes stronger.

By strengthening your social skills you can become a more influential person and make this upward spiral even stronger. A few articles that may provide you with useful advice in that department are Do You Make These 10 Mistakes in a Conversation? and Dale Carnegie’s Top 10 Tips for Improving Your Social Skills. Or you can just move on to the next tip.

9. Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”

I think that one of the best tips for improving your social skills is to behave in a congruent manner and communicate in an authentic way. People seem to really like authentic communication. And there is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned. You feel powerful and good about yourself.

When words and thoughts are aligned then that shows through in your communication. Because now you have your voice tonality and body language – some say they are over 90 percent of communication – in alignment with your words.

With these channels in alignment people tend to really listen to what you’re saying. You are communicating without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness.

Also, if your actions aren’t in alignment with what you’re communicating then you start to hurt your own belief in what you can do. And other people’s belief in you too.

10. Continue to grow and evolve.

”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”

You can pretty much always improve your skills, habits or re-evaluate your evaluations. You can gain deeper understanding of yourself and the world.

Sure, you may look inconsistent or like you don’t know what you are doing from time to time. You may have trouble to act congruently or to communicate authentically. But if you don’t then you will, as Gandhi says, drive yourself into a false position. A place where you try to uphold or cling to your old views to appear consistent while you realise within that something is wrong. It’s not a fun place to be. To choose to grow and evolve is a happier and more useful path to take.

Henrik Edberg is a writer who lives on the east coast of Sweden. He is passionate about happiness and personal development and writes about it every week onThe Positivity Blog and in his free newsletter.


AgeSong Elders TO SKYPE with Their Counterparts in South Africa


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The idea of elders  halfway across the world sharing something of who they are with each other has been met with  enthusiasm among folk both at AgeSong’s San Francisco Bay Area communities and among folk at PADCA   ( Pietermaritzburg and District Association for the Care of the Aged).

PADCA is a vibrant, dynamic non-profit organisation based in Pietermaritzburg, a leader in senior care in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands (in South Africa) and a resource of choice for senior citizens and their families.

One PADCA elder claimed, “It would be an opportunity to broaden my mind to be in contact with someone on the other side of the world.” Initially, a few community members of Sunnyside Park Home  in Pietermaritzburg will put together a short biography + email address and  send this to a staff coordinator at AgeSong who will match AgeSong elders who might be interested in responding.

Jo-Anne Stevens-O’Connor, Social Work Manager, PADCA, notes, “Some elders may be more comfortable with e-mailing at first, others prefer to Skype.” Nader Shabahangi, AgeSong CEO, is totally behind the project. He encouragingly remarked, “Let’s get skipping between our nations and care homes started – how exciting, indeed!”

Silence…an endangered species

See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. –Mother Theresa

Sounds of Silence

–by Gordon Hempton, syndicated from, Feb 16, 2015

The day will come when man will have to fight noise as inexorably as cholera and the plague.” So said the Nobel Prize-winning bacteriologist Robert Koch in 1905. A century later, that day has drawn much nearer. Today silence has become an endangered species. Our cities, our suburbs, our farm communities, even our most expansive and remote national parks are not free from human noise intrusions. Nor is there relief even at the North Pole; continent-hopping jets see to that. Moreover, fighting noise is not the same as preserving silence. Our typical anti-noise strategies — earplugs, noise cancellation headphones, even noise abatement laws — offer no real solution because they do nothing to help us reconnect and listen to the land. And the land is speaking.

We’ve reached a time in human history when our global environmental crisis requires that we make permanent life-style changes. More than ever before, we need to fall back in love with the land. Silence is our meeting place.

It is our birthright to listen, quietly and undisturbed, to the natural environment and take whatever meanings we may. Long before the noises of mankind, there were only the sounds of the natural world. Our ears evolved perfectly tuned to hear these sounds-sounds that far exceed the range of human speech or even our most ambitious musical performances: a passing breeze that indicates a weather change, the first birdsongs of spring heralding a regreening of the land and a return to growth and prosperity, an approaching storm promising relief from a drought, and the shifting tide reminding us of the celestial ballet. All of these experiences connect us back to the land and to our evolutionary past.

One Square Inch of Silence is a place in the Hoh Rain Forest, part of Olympic National Park — arguably the quietest place in the United States. But it, too, is endangered, protected only by a policy that is neither practiced by the National Park Service itself nor supported by adequate laws. My hope is that One Square Inch will trigger a quiet awakening in all those willing to become true listeners.

Preserving natural silence is as necessary and essential as species preservation, habitat restoration, toxic waste cleanup, and carbon dioxide reduction, to name but a few of the immediate challenges that confront us in this still young century. The good news is that rescuing silence can come much more easily than tackling these other problems. A single law would signal a huge and immediate improvement. That law would prohibit all aircraft from flying over our most pristine national parks.

Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything. It lives here, profoundly, at One Square Inch in the Hoh Rain Forest. It is the presence of time, undisturbed. It can be felt within the chest. Silence nurtures our nature, our human nature, and lets us know who we are. Left with a more receptive mind and a more attuned ear, we become better listeners not only to nature but to each other. Silence can be carried like embers from a fire. Silence can befound, and silence can find you. Silence can be lost and also recovered. But silence cannot be imagined, although most people think so. To experience the soul-swelling wonder of silence, you must hear it.

Silence is a sound, many, many sounds. I’ve heard more than I can count. Silence is the moonlit song of the coyote signing the air, and the answer of its mate. It is the falling whisper of snow that will later melt with an astonishing reggae rhythm so crisp that you will want to dance to it. It is the sound of pollinating winged insects vibrating soft tunes as they defensively dart in and out of the pine boughs to temporarily escape the breeze, a mix of insect hum and pine sigh that will stick with you all day. Silence is the passing flock of chestnut-backed chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches, chirping and fluttering, reminding you of your own curiosity.

Have you heard the rain lately? America’s great northwest rain forest, no surprise, is an excellent place to listen. Here’s what I’ve heard at One Square Inch of Silence. The first of the rainy season is not wet at all. Initially, countless seeds fall from the towering trees. This is soon followed by the soft applause of fluttering maple leaves, which settle oh so quietly as a winter blanket for the seeds. But this quiet concert is merely a prelude.

When the first of many great rainstorms arrives, unleashing its mighty anthem, each species of tree makes its own sound in the wind and rain. Even the largest of the raindrops may never strike the ground. Nearly 300 feet overhead, high in the forest canopy, the leaves and bark absorb much of the moisture … until this aerial sponge becomes saturated and drops re-form and descend farther … striking lower branches and cascading onto sound-absorbing moss drapes … tapping on epiphytic ferns … faintly plopping on huckleberry bushes … and whacking the hard, firm salal leaves … before, finally, the drops inaudibly bend the delicate clover-like leaves of the wood sorrel and drip to leak into the ground. Heard day or night, this liquid ballet will continue for more than an hour after the actual rain ceases.

Recalling the warning of Robert Koch, developer of the scientific method that identifies the causes of disease, I believe the unchecked loss of silence is a canary in a coal mine-a global one. If we cannot make a stand here, if we turn a deaf ear to the issue of vanishing natural quiet, how can we expect to fare better with more complex environmental crises?

This article originally appeared in On Being. On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast, a Webby Award-winning website and online exploration, a publisher and public event convener.