The Value of Forgetting

My mother was very good throughout her life at putting unpleasant thoughts out of her mind. She grew up as a first generation college educated U.S. citizen with immigrant parents, and  lived through the Depression and World War II. She faced challenges bravely throughout her life, among other things caring 10 years for my father, who suffered a double stroke in his early 60s. Mom lived to 94.

In a National Public Radio article June 23, 2017, author Andrea Hsu said:

Intuitively, we tend to think of forgetting as failure, as something gone wrong in our ability to remember.

Now, Canadian neuroscientists with the University of Toronto are challenging that notion. In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, they review the current research into the neurobiology of forgetting and hypothesize that our brains purposefully work to forget information in order to help us live our lives.

View article on “Could The Best Memory System Be One That Forgets?: “http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/06/23/534001592/could-the-best-memory-system-be-one-that-forgets

 

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?

Summary

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 (https://www.argentum.org/magazine-articles/making-senior-living-career-lifetime/) 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!

 

 Bio

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 sgelardin@gmail.com and view sallygelardin.com.

References

Adler, J. Making Senior Living the Career of a Lifetime. Retrieved June 9, 2017: https://www.argentum.org/magazine-articles/making-senior-living-career-lifetime/

Bolles, R. Why Pursuing Your Dream is Still Important. Retrieved June 9, 2017: http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/articles/view/why-pursuing-your-dream-is-still-important?

Career Planner.  How To Use the Knowdell Motivated Skills Card Sort. Retrieved June 9, 2017: https://www.careerplanner.com/Video/Knowdell-Motivated-Skills-Video.cfm

Fuller, J. Top 10 Ben Franklin Inventions: Urinary Catheter. Retrieved June 9, 2017: http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/famous-inventors/10-ben-franklin-inventions1.htm

Moran, S. The Senior Living Industry Is A Disaster And Will Never Get Better. June 7, 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2017: https://www.seniorhousingforum.net/blog/2017/6/7/senior-living-industry-disaster-and-will-never-get-better?pmc=MC&MyID=sal%40gelardin.net.

*Shabahangi, N.  Reflections on Eldercare Today and In the Future. Retrieved June, 7, 2017.   http://agesong.com/today/18204/reflections-eldercare-today-future.

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: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/king-toilet-attendant-england

A Review of “Deeper into the Soul” by Tru

[*Updated on Feb 26 to include current book availability]

Book cover of Deeper into the Soul by Nader Robert Shabahangi & Bogna Szymkiewicz

Those who work in assisted living are finally listening to the message that Nader Shabahangi has been spreading for years – the value of slowing down and learning from elders.  Following is a review of  “Deeper into the Soul,” a charming book that explains this belief system through different perspectives. It can take a lifetime to really absorb and apply this philosophy and belief system.  It’s worth it.

This review comes from Truthful as posted in August of 2014, on her wonderful blog Truthful Kindness:

Tru here. I deeply appreciated the book “Deeper into the Soul: Beyond Dementia and Alzheimer’s Toward Forgetfulness Care” by Nader Robert Shabahangi PhD and Bogna Szymkiewicz PhD.

Some excerpts from introduction are quoted below:
“In this book we highlight a basic attitudinal shift:

  • Dementia is our teacher.
  • Rather than simply a disease, dementia has purpose and meaning.
  • Rather than being people simply in need of our care, people who forget can teach us about life and living.
  • Rather than a burden, people with dementia offer us an opportunity to deepen ourselves, to go deeper into our souls.” …

And later: “Being with forgetfulness indeed takes us deeper into the soul.  Whether we experience forgetting in others or glimpse it in little moments within ourselves, forgetfulness offers us a gift, if only we are capable of seeing it as such.  Perhaps loss is always a gateway to the real gains …”

And last but not least, this excerpt; “For those who can truly lay aside their aversion or discomfort and learn to accept what is, the gifts of the soul await; equanimity, intimacy with the dream-world and its magical ways, slowing down to the speed of soul essence.”

It took several tries for me to understand the text of this book, but even on the first try I could understand the brief blurb-balloons for the cartoon explanations that go with each page. VERY much appreciated the positive perspective offered by this book. Publisher http://pacificinstitute.org/eldersacademy.php#deeper still has it available $14 (softcover) and $20 (hardcover).

Tru Blog Review of Book “Deeper Into the Soul by Nader Shabahangi and  Bogna Szymkiewicz POSTED ON http://truthfulkindness.com/2014/08/06/bk-deeper/

Deeper into the Soul Books

Deeper into the Soul is currently available in both hardcover and ebook from Elders Academy Press.
Deeper into the Soul paperback is currently out of stock. Elders Academy Press expects to have it back in stock in April, 2016.

Related Post:

Featured Book | Deeper into the Soul Now Available as an eBook

 

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 6.35.03 AM

 

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: https://medium.com/@Stevegrayfs

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

HOW LONELINESS WEARS ON THE BODY: THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL ISOLATION ON OLDER ADULTS TODAY

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, www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/11/18/1514249112.full.pdf ↩

– See more at: http://blog.ioaging.org/home-care/how-loneliness-wears-on-the-body-the-negative-effects-of-social-isolation-on-older-adults-today/#sthash.f3cQG6IK.dpuf

Replacing the Term “Dementia”

MARC AGRONIN: According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term “dementia” refers not only to progressive cognitive deterioration as seen in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, but also to “madness” and “insanity.”

These latter two more colloquial uses of the term and their connotations quickly degenerate into a host of pejorative synonyms listed in the dictionary, including “batty, bonkers, deranged, unbalanced and unhinged” among others.

To read further, view http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2015/11/30/its-time-to-change-the-way-we-talk-about-aging/
It’s Time to Change the Way We Talk About Aging

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

 

 

Recommended Article: How to Focus a Wandering Mind

This recommended article by Wendy Hasenkamp, PhD talks about her study on how to focusing a wandering mind and this can relate recent scientific inquiry into whether being “present” can increase happiness. Her article found on Greater Good is about How to Focus a Wandering and why individuals might benefit from the practice. Dr Hasenkamp discusses wandering minds she cites research by Matt Killingsworth that suggests “that happiness may have more to do with the contents of our moment-to-moment experiences than with the major conditions of our lives.” Dr Hasenkamp talks about research she has done at theMind & Life Institute that suggests that meditative practice and can increase neuroplasticity. The meditative practice of focused attention meditation guides the user in awareness of mind-wandering and subsequent refocuresing of the mind. Practioners of this technique say that doing this can make thoughts “less sticky.” Gaining the skill to be able to re-focuse on the “present” could give the practioner more control to more quickly bring themselves back to the present. This technique of staying in the present or coming right back to the present if the mind wanders could help relieve the distress of dwelling on items not involved in the here and now.

Read the full article on How to Focus a Wandering Mind by Wendy Hasenkamp on Greater Good.

How to Focus a Wandering Mind
By Wendy Hasenkamp, GreaterGood.Berkeley.edu | July 17, 2013

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