Reflections on Eldercare Today and the Future

The Senior Care Industry at one point 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 letting 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. The carepartners, who belong to the lowest paid people in the United States, yet are tasked with helping our elders (one time that will be you) in the most intimate and relational ways – are tired of working two and sometimes three jobs to make ends meet.

The profit margins of yesterday belong to an outdated concept of who are our elders: not useless members of society but rather highly mature, experienced as well as knowledgable people whose wisdom must be used to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.

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 and wanted attitudinal change towards valuing our more mature members of society. Doing so will not only be better for planet and people but, in the long run, will make sure that our present assisted living industry will not become a dinosaur because it was not able to adapt to new needs and attitudes.

~ Nader Shabahangi, PhD, CEO and CoFounder of AgeSong, Eldercare Communities

AgeSong University: From the Inside Out w/ Dr Julia Wolfson

MAY 20, 2016

AGESONG UNIVERSITY

350 UNIVERSITY STREET

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94134

5:30 TO 7:00 PM

Refreshments Served

RSVP by May 18

415.337.1587 or email aureception@agesong.com

 

In this presentation, Julia Wolfson, PhD will share ideas on changing custodial attitudes to care, in ways that give equal emphasis to individual agency, reciprocity in relationships, and community belonging. She calls this approach to transforming our patterns of mind and feeling “Deep Power.”

For many people, care is a necessity, for others it is a job, and for many it is a calling. Too often people dependent on care and support are stigmatized and trapped in systems of control that are unsafe, and they’re robbed of basic human rights and freedoms many of us take for granted. This is as relevant for older adults as it is for people with a disability and children, in need of health, functional and social support in daily living.

Drawing on a wealth of research, stories and lessons learned, Julia will address the following three topics:

• How the care relationship changes us as care providers

• How use of in-born powers can transform care cultures from the inside-out

• How diversity is a key to communication, conflict and community building

Dr. Wolfson draws on nearly 40 years of experiences in organizational and human service communities around the world. She works directly with people, leaders, caregivers, specialists and family members, whole teams and organizations. Her experiences with people primed for helplessness led to her discovery of nine in-born powers hidden within the experiences of care practitioners, leaders and people dependent on support. Her concept of “Deep Power” is a powerful response to the central question we humans will always have to face: Who are we, really? How can care cultures facilitate friendship, purpose and contribution?

About Dr. Julia Wolfson

Julia lives in in Australia. She is a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra. She is founder and principal of Turning Forward, a global network organization dedicated to uplifting self-powered people, organizations and communities anywhere. Her forthcoming book Safe and Free: Transforming human service environments from the inside out will be available later in the year.

AgeSong University RCFE License Number 385600402

 

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Click Image to Download the AgeSong University Event Poster

 

AgeSong WoodPark: Changing Our Culture of Care w/ Dr Julia Wolfson

AGESONG WOODPARK

3121 FRUITVALE AVENUE

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94602

RSVP BY MAY 14

510.842.3192 OR WPFRONT@AGESONG.COM

5:30PM – 7:00PM

REFRESHMENTS SERVED

WoodPark RCFE #019200514

 

 

In this presentation, Julia Wolfson, PhD will share ideas on changing custodial attitudes to care, in ways that give equal emphasis to individual agency, reciprocity in relationships, and community belonging. She calls this approach to transforming our patterns of mind and feeling “Deep Power.”

For many people, care is a necessity, for others it is a job, and for many it is a calling. Too often people dependent on care and support are stigmatized and trapped in systems of control that are unsafe, and they’re robbed of basic human rights and freedoms many of us take for granted. This is as relevant for older adults as it is for people with a disability and children, in need of health, functional and social support in daily living.

Drawing on a wealth of research, stories and lessons learned, Julia will address the following three topics:

• How the care relationship changes us as care providers

• How use of in-born powers can transform care cultures from the inside-out

• How diversity is a key to communication, conflict and community building

Dr. Wolfson draws on nearly 40 years of experiences in organizational and human service communities around the world. She works directly with people, leaders, caregivers, specialists and family members, whole teams and organizations. Her experiences with people primed for helplessness led to her discovery of nine in-born powers hidden within the experiences of care practitioners, leaders and people dependent on support. Her concept of “Deep Power” is a powerful response to the central question we humans will always have to face: Who are we, really? How can care cultures facilitate friendship, purpose and contribution?

About Dr. Julia Wolfson

Julia lives in in Australia. She is a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra. She is founder and principal of Turning Forward, a global network organization dedicated to uplifting self-powered people, organizations and communities anywhere. Her forthcoming book Safe and Free: Transforming human service environments from the inside out will be available later in the year.

 AgeSong at WoodPark RCFE License Number: 019200514

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Click image to download the AgeSong WoodPark Poster

AgeSong Founder Shares with Sutter Staff New View of Eldering

July 23 Sutter Health invited Nader Shabahangi, AgeSong Founder and CEO, and other AgeSong representatives, to share the philosophy and history of AgeSong with Sutter staff. Nader’s presentation included the following key points:

1. Move away from labeling people with such terms as “dementia” or “Alzheimers”.
2. Growing older gives us more clarity and time to form meaningful relationships and understanding what it means “to be human.”
3. As we age, we slow down and live more in the present. We have more time for conversations and “being with,” without distractions, such as cell phones and feeling compelled to move on to the next activity.

The collaboration between AgeSong and Sutter Health brings together AgeSong’s inspirational elder community “beyond assisted living” with Sutter Health, a family of doctors and hospitals, serving more than 100 communities in Northern California.

To prepare for the event, the AgeSong team compiled a video of recent films and a quick exploration of what the elders, carepartners and community as whole do to during the year! Click here to view video.

In addition, AgeSong University community members created for Sutter employees nature bookmarks that accompanied AgeSong’s Elders Academy Press book gifts.

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AgeSong 2014 Intern Orientation: Nourishment & Relational Care video

In this video on AgeSong 2014 Intern Orientation: Nourishment & Relational Care, Janna O’Sullivan, Director of Nourishment presents a discussion on Eldercare Nourishment and Relational Care; it’s implementation and how the program succeeds in the AgeSong Communities.

Through a presentation and discussion Janna covers the AgeSong Nourishment program, how it plays a part in the AgeSong vision, eldercare and in the lives of the residents. She discusses the importance of “choice” for residents and how the Nourishment program emphasizes the residents ability to make their choices for their meals. Janna talks about how all the teams work together to implement and maintain this program.

Janna opens the talk with by introducing herself. She starts the talk off with an intro to a new resident intake. One of the common occurrences before coming to AgeSong, the prospective resident has often been diagnosed “Failure to Thrive.” Or they won’t eat. Perhaps the incoming elder has lost weight and is not able to gain it. At AgeSong that does not happen, fortunately. Given the nature of AgeSong’s Nourishment Program what happens is exactly the opposite, they thrive and they gain weight. Janna continues the discussion by explaining how the AgeSong teams make that happen.

The purpose of the AgeSong Nourishment program as it is implemented in the AgeSong residences is therapeutic in nature. The latest research in the field of long-term care and the health and well being of older adults says that when they have choice over what they eat and they are part of the production of that food they are healthier and happier.

Janna discusses the reality that when a person has reached Assisted Living, the elder has lost almost all their control in their life, choices are now made for them. Luckily AgeSong has the ability to give the elders their choices. And this allows the elders to make decisions about food and the elder can exert control. Janna believes “that the food is the last place that you still have a choice in this type of situation.”

Before intake the Residential chef meets with the family to determine the elders favorite foods and meals. When the resident moves in they are served their favorite meal as their very first meal. It is very effective as a basis for the start of new relationship.

Food at AgeSong is all about Relational Care, it is the opportunity to connect with a person, really listen to them and get to know something about them.

The Nourishment program does not say “No” to residents about getting foods they want. The communities all have a standing policy if it is within their power they will make it happen.

Janna encourages the Interns to bring any food-related info about a resident to the Kitchens- there are Resident “Diet Cards” that have the residents photo, their Likes, Dislikes and their Allergies on them. She lets the Interns know where these cards are kept for each resident.

Janna goes into some detail about the types of diets that AgeSong supports. If an intern would like to know which diet a resident is following they can find that info on the resident’s diet card.

Food is about Comfort and AgeSong’s Nourishment program is designed to provide that comfort and the relational care that goes with it. Food is about love..it is the “Act of” making something for someone that gives it it’s love. Food is about Engagement, meals shared and relationships. Janna encourages the interns to “Sit down, have a conversation and engage the resident.”

Janna also covers food, hunger, hydration and related incidents of “acting out.” Included are some tips and thoughts on engaging with the resident if you are in a situation where you are feeding a resident.

There are residents who cannot articulate that they are hungry. what happens if they get hungry? They get angry. Acting out behaviour is absolutely going to happen if someone is hungry. Acting out does not mean medication. Number 1 medication in AgeSong is Food. Go there first.

We want to keeping the residents fed and we need to be aware of keeping the residents hydrated! Janna gives some warning signs that might indicate a resident needs hydrating. She encourages the interns to directly ask the resident what they have drank today.

Be open aware and open to authentic opportunities. Share yourselves, share your food share whatever it is that you are most passionate about with one of the residents and you will connect authentically.

Nader also speaks about being mindful of food waste as the latest statistics show that up to 40% of all food in the US is wasted.

The AgeSong 2014 Intern Orientation: Nourishment and Relational Care video is one of the AgeSong Educational Series videos. The video of the session is one of many filmed during the two-day orientation for the AgeSong Gero-Wellness. These orientation sessions are the first training sessions that the interns will engage in during their 1-year internship in the Gero-Wellness.

View the AgeSong Educational Series videos here on our AgeSong Library of Videos page.

Elders Academy: Australian Visitors & AgeSong Elders Share Views on Eldercare


Australian Unity Retirement Visitors to participate in Elders Academy at AgeSong’s Forget-Me-Not Cafe.  Australian Unity is an organization of long standing which continues to seek new and better ways to provide genuine living options for older Australians.  “A key strategy which enables us is learning from others across the world…AgeSong’s approach has been recommended to me,” said Helen Jones, General Manager Strategy & Service Development, 
Retirement Living Services, South Melbourne. http://www.australianunity.com.au

TUESDAY: Naam Yoga in the Forget-Me-Not Cafe

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Stressed? Tired? The peak of the afternoon has that affect. If you find yourself a moment, the Forget-Me-Not cafe opens its doors to you, hosting an hour-long Naam Yoga class, led by instructor Tanaz Sowdagar.

Naam Yoga is a joyful approach to personal mind-body wellness, balancing the brain, glandular, digestive, and nervous systems, allowing people to experience vitality and a renewed sense of wellbeing. Focusing on the breath, sound, movement, and mudra therapy (hand postures), Naam yoga is accessible to any age, “stage,” or ability.

A new feature of Naam Yoga is a practice called Shakti Naam Yoga, a powerful rejuvenating yogic technique from the Himalayas. It incorporates standing postures (though these breath techniques can be done seated) with deep breathing techniques to open the meridians (energy channels) and remove all blocks in the body. This unique fusion of movement, breath, acupressure, stretching and vocalization, activates and strengthens the body’s self-healing capacities. It helps to increase one’s health, happiness, and vitality. Shakti Naam Classes will involve both sitting and standing postures with powerful breath work for detoxification, vitality and strength.

Discover the power of your body!

Re-visioning Aging and Elder Care

The present conceptual framework used in the way we look at aging and the way we care for our elders is demeaning and harmful to our elders and to the well-being of our societies at large.  Yet, this outdated framework and understanding continues to disgrace and devalue our elders. In contrast to this outdated and harmful attitude stands an existential-humanistic, process-oriented approach. Such an attitude regards aging and old age as purposeful. It understands caring – whether it is receiving or giving care – as essential to our humanity; and it regards the many symptoms of aging and old age as meaningful guideposts to be understood rather than made into problems and/or pathologies.

This attitude opposes the present mainstream idea of aging, old age and care for elders where aging is understood as a disease, old age as a phase to be avoided and basically useless, and the many symptoms associated with aging and old age as meaningless problems in need of treatments and cures. Even recently added concepts, such as successful and healthy aging, use longevity and physical health as basic measures of what are deemed successful and healthy. These concepts of aging and care are most often based on biologically quantitative and normative measures of human life. This means that measurements and standards to which those measurements are compared form the basis of evaluating a human being’s life; that is, whether a person, for example, is performing, declining, successful, smart, healthy, or diseased.

In many ways, we have turned our understanding of human beings and their needs upside down: rather than measurement and quantification being in the service of human beings’ well- being, the quantifying mindset increasingly demands that human beings fit into measurable categories and labels. We have become the servants of the very tool we have created to help and serve us.