AgeSong University July/August 2016 Newsletter

The latest University Newsletter is out! Read the recent news, stories and about the upcoming events at the community.

The 2016 July/August edition includes a note about the new AgeSong University Hospice Neighborhood Grand Opening and Willie J Brown’s attendance, a note from Anna Allas, the Associate Director about the recent Family Connect Sunday Brunch and ongoing outreach. Also included are Upcoming Events, information on auditions for Youth Calvacade on Gospel Music and Celebration to be performed in September, the Victory Community Choir and an intro to Rev. Tom Nibbe’s SpiritCare Ministry at University.

Check out the AgeSong University July/August 2016 Newsletter!

AgeSong University July/August 2016 Newsletter

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AgeSong Programs: Joy in Aging Series Video

Sharon from KRON Channel 4 speaks with Dr Nader Shabahangi and Paula Hertel about some of the programs that AgeSong offers the elders and their families.

AgeSong is curious about who we are and who the residents are as individuals. Engaging in a process to learn. AgeSong offers programs like the PhotoVoice program where elders use a camera and through that process they show how they look at the world.

If you allow yourself to look and listen, the programs allow some deep relationships to develop. This is a less cerebral, less intellectual and its more connected to your emotional side and is closer to who you really are. Allows for discovery and a rich connection between people. Which is the purpose of all the AgeSong programs to develop deeper connections.

Find out More!

View the recent WoodPark Calendars to see current running AgeSong Programs

Explore more posts and articles about Engagement at AgeSong

View more ofthe Joy in Aging Series.

Explore more videos in the AgeSong Video Library

Tantalizing Dining – Chef-Prepared Creations



The Bay Area is home to some of the most creative culinary treats on the planet. AgeSong celebrates healthy dining with a flare that includes cultural preferences and family recipes.  Since the beginning of March, when Elizabeth, the mother of Nader, AgeSong’s founder, flew in to visit, the WoodPark community has been filled with mouthwatering aromas.

GeroWellness Orientation 2015 w/ Nader Shabahangi: Wherever you go, there you are.

Dr Nader Shabahangi speaks with the 2015/2016 Pacific Institute Gero-Wellness Program participants about “Wherever you go, there you are.” He encourages the interns to be themselves and how their engaged involvement will help shape their internship/practicum year. Nader also touches on the meaningful impact their engagement can have in the AgeSong Community they will be working in.

Wherever You Go, There You Are

This year there is a great opportunity to have a deeper understanding of how our professional comes into the personal and how the personal comes into the professional and how there really is very little no difference, if any. Wherever we go, there we are. We show up and we show up as who we are.

There is an idea in standard psychology that we are a psychotherapist or LMFT and we are in that role. We are a somehow an expert and we are not ourselves anymore. They call you and I relating “therapy.” I thought we had a relationship. So the moment we call this “therapy” we have instrumentalized the relationship that you and I have.

You are starting the year and there are expectations. You have ideas. And really all of us are dealing with issues. What are some of the things that we might be working on this year? We are working with frail elders, forgetfulness, we are working with “end of life.” At AgeSong in working with elders we are working with the most marginalized group within our society. Frail, vulnerable, people who are often not that verbal anymore. That get judged. This is also an organization that tries to change how elders are being looked at. So you will deal with the mainstream which does not seem to be dealing with the aging phenomenon.

All you will be dealing with the mainstream that doesn’t have too much of a useful purpose for elders. And that attitude is manifesting itself in the way physicians social workers, psychologists, therapists, and hospital admins are helping or not helping our cause.

As GeroWellness interns you will be in the middle between the mainstream and the AgeSong vision. You will want to get in there and make a difference. You will want to make a change. And you will see obvious inadequacies. When that happens remember that AgeSong is an organization wanting to make a difference. Be on our side, talk to us, the change begins with you, you will have the opportunity to be an agent of change. Bring your ideas for change to us and let’s see if we can help you manifest the changes you seek.  

What is wonderful about this internship is that Elders are very accepting kind and caring and they allow you to be yourself. Interns can bring themselves to the internship and effect change by being themselves in an accepting and inviting environment.

Find out More!

Read more stories about GeroWellness Interns in AgeSong Communities.

Explore more videos in the AgeSong Video Library

An Introduction with Jamie Slyter, AgeSong Engagement and Enrichment Director with Nader Shabahangi on Engagement

Jamie Slyter, AgeSong Engagement and Enrichment Director and Nader Shabahangi, AgeSong CEO discuss Engagement and Communication during this video, An Introduction with Jamie Slyter. Jamie Slyter encourages intercommunication between interns and Engagement teams at Communities and talks about the engagement opportunities available to residents at AgeSong. Nader speaks about the evolution of the AgeSong Engagement and Enrichment program.

An Introduction with Jamie Slyter: AgeSong Engagement and Enrichment Director

Jamie finds the most helpful and important piece at AgeSong is having open lines of communication. Communication between interns and staff is very important to keep staff apprised of what you are working on with an elder. Also the interns should look at all of the staff as resources, the Engagement team, the CarePartners, the Nursing staff, all of these people can be sources of insight into working with an elder. Communication ensures collaboration.

The Enrichment and Engagement team work with the elders to ensure that elders have a sense of fulfillment each day. The elders at AgeSong have mobility they are able to go shopping, to go out to eat. The residents are in an assisted living facility so AgeSong works to ensure that they are assisted in having choices and freedom.

Nader Shabahangi Shares the Evolution of the Engagement and Enrichment Program at AgeSong

Originally the program as described by the State of California was just called Activities, even though AgeSong works to bring more a relational emphasis to the program. Then the AgeSong program morphed into an Enrichment program but that seemed to imply that there is some sore of a lack and did not wholly describe the work being done in the Communities. The foundation of therapy is being heard. As the At one point the idea of engagement was brought into the mix and the word Engagement really describes what the current program brings to the Communities. A wonderful way the interns can contribute as relational counselors is to work with the residents to engage with each other. The Enrichment and Engagement program is not about entertainment. Nader encourages the interns when they do their Groups that they think about what they love to do. The content of the Group is not as important as doing what you truly love.

Find out More!

Read more stories about the wayEldercare is practiced at AgeSong.

Explore more videos in the AgeSong Video Library

An Introduction with Sally Gelardin, Regional Director of Engagement

An Introduction with Sally Gelardin: Engagement at AgeSong


Dr. Sally Gelardin, AgeSong’s Regional Engagement & Education Director, welcomes the 2015/2016 Gero-Wellness interns to the program with a talk about engagement in AgeSong’s Eldercare Communities.

Sally opens her introduction with a short description of her background. Then she describes what Engagement means. She says:

Engagement is the meaningful connections we make and this is not just activities, because activities are something that you do. Engagement is something you experience. It’s not enough to facilitate an activity.  What you really want is to see each person’s eyes light up. You’d like to see eyes light up in every member of your group. Even if you are with a person one-on-one, you want to see that person’s eyes light up. That means you have made a meaningful connection.

Sally talks about working with elders as the most rewarding job of her life, as well as the  most challenging.

She gives an example of a writing group, which might include elders with a wide range of abilities. Perhaps only a few members in the group can write without assistance.  How can you  facilitate a writing group when only a few members of the group can write?  The key is volunteers and family members to help those who cannot express themselves in writing.

As  she explains, “Meaningful communication can be expressed in many ways. You initially see  someone who doesn’t move a muscle, is in a wheel chair, and can  barely move her head. When you see her eyes light up, it  makes your day. It’s incredible. ”

Sally closes her introduction with a “Welcome, Enjoy!” to the  2015/2016 participants of the Pacific Institute Gero-Wellness Training Program.

Find out More!

Explore more videos in the AgeSong Video Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work cited:

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

Elders Give Students Feedback on Mural Drawings

Students from Julia Morgan School for Girls displayed group drawings of their concepts of a mural that they will install on the fence outside the film room window at AgeSong’s WoodPark community in Oakland. They had discussed various concepts with elders the month before.  Within the next month, a drawing will be chosen.  This is an intergenerational collaboration between the junior high school students and WoodPark’s elders. Special thanks to Jeni Anderson, Julia Morgan art teacher, and coordinator of this project.

International High Music Recital Mesmerizes Elders at Hayes/Laguna

In the dead of winter, the Laguna Grove Terrace is not at its warmest. Twenty-five AgeSong elders, families and friends did not care. Covered with blankets, the audience was mesmerized by 10 International High School student musicians.  After the concert, elders asked the student musicians, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”  As each student attempted to state his or her career intentions, Collin intervened and gave the students an elocution and personal presentation lesson. The elder teacher was not satisfied until all the student musicians stated clearly and confidently their career intentions, even if they did not know what they wanted to be when they grow up. Elders and youth, learning from each other.