Join AgeSong at JCC Art of Aging Gracefully Fair

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
The Fifth Annual Art of Aging Gracefully Resource Fair is an exclusive opportunity to access the Bay Area’s most valuable health and wellness resources all in one day. This year’s fair features nearly 50 businesses and organizations as well as an impressive lineup of speakers from UCSF Medical Center in the fields of geriatrics, cardiology, orthopaedics and oncology.

VISIT OUR BOOTH:  AgeSong Assisted Living and Elder Communities

Fifth Annual Art of Aging Gracefully Resource Fair
Thursday, March 22 • Free
Speakers: 9:30 am – 2:45 pm • Kanbar Hall
Resource Fair: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm • Pottruck Family Atrium & Fisher Family Hall


AgeSong Assisted Living and Elder Communities: Locations throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco and the East Bay: San Francisco-Hayes Valley • San Francisco-Laguna Grove • Oakland-Lake Merritt • Oakland-Lakeside Park • Emeryville-Bayside Park • Castro Valley-OakCreek

Love, Sex, and Dementia

  • Thursday, March 22
  • 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
  • Laguna Grove Care
  • 624 Laguna Street, SF 94102
  • 2 CEUs
Elizabeth Edgerly, PhD
Elizabeth Edgerly, PhD, is Chief Program Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California & Northern Nevada as well as a clinical psychologist. Dr. Edgerly oversees all chapter programs for persons with dementia, their families and professionals. She is instrumental in the development of new programs to better meet the needs of persons with dementia throughout Northern California & Northern Nevada. Dr. Edgerly is also the lead presenter and national spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Maintain Your Brain program and has appeared on television, radio and in numerous national and local publications, speaking on this topic. In addition to her work with programs, she staffs the chapter’s Medical Scientific Advisory Council. Dr. Edgerly is a graduate of the University of Maine, Orono; she completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at State University of New York at Binghamton, NY in 1994. After completing her postdoctoral fellowship at Palo Alto VA Medical Center, she consulted with the Interdisciplinary Team Training and Development Program with the center. Dr. Edgerly joined the Alzheimer’s Association in 1995. Dr. Edgerly has had her work published in numerous scientific journals including the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and the Journal of Psychopathology & Behavioral Assessment.


AgeSong Assisted Living and Elder Communities: Locations throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco and the East Bay: San Francisco-Hayes Valley • San Francisco-Laguna Grove • Oakland-Lake Merritt • Oakland-Lakeside Park • Emeryville-Bayside Park • Castro Valley-OakCreek

AgeSong at Laguna Grove | 624 Laguna Street San Francisco, California 94102 | Phone: (415) 318-8670 | License Number 385600372Equal Housing Opportunity
All content © AgeSong. All rights reserved.

From Hoarding To Foraging for Memories: Moving Beyond the DSM

Download Presentation: ACA_Presentation_2012


The American Counseling Association, the worlds largest counseling organization, opposes some revisions to the main diagnostic tool used in mental health. According to Rebecca Daniel-Burke, staff liaison on the ACA DSM task force, “in general, counselors are against pathologizing or ‘medicalizing’ clients with diagnoses as we prefer to view clients from a strength-based approach and avoid the stigma that is often associated with mental health diagnoses.” (Bass, November 28, 2011).

In support of this strength-based approach, an educational session, conducted by Drs Sally Gelardin and Nader Shabahangi, joined by Marilyn Harryman, NCC, DCC,  is scheduled for Sunday, March 25, 8:45 am to 10:15 am.  We challenge the mainstream understanding of aging as decline and/or disease and the focus on diagnoses of illnesses, represented by the DSM Code.  Instead, we focus on a more expansive, humanistic, and creative vision and approach through the use of metaphors.

The three main subjects addressed in this paper are the following:  (a) Define and demystify the DSM code; (b) Examine positive ways counselors can reframe diagnoses through metaphors; (c) Provide a toolbox of life-affirming wellness activities that counselors can use with clients to move beyond medical diagnoses.

Who and/or what defines an individual? Is it simply illness diagnoses?

Individuals over 80 are the fastest growing population.  How do we relate to our elders – note each sign of decay? failing eyesight or hearing? slower pace? each memory slip? every time the phone is left off the hook? In our youth-oriented culture, it is difficult to find anything to look forward to as we age. Once an individual has been diagnosed by the medical profession, is that the whole person, or does that individual have other “evolving” abilities?

Labels are for jars, not people.

Labeling through medical diagnoses continues throughout our lives, but most of us start to notice it more as we pass 50. For example, over 8% of the U.S. population (children and adults) have diabetes. Over 25% of U.S. citizens over 65 have diabetes. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates 2 to 4 times as much as those without diabetes, plus develop other serious health challenges.

In some cases,  a diagnosed illness can be reversed – the individual can be “cured”.  In other cases, the diagnosis many remain throughout the rest of one’s life, but the symptoms can be moderated. Sometimes, a person who has been diagnosed with an illness, as well as those with whom the diagnosed individual is in contact,  can lead a fuller, more rewarding life than before becoming aware of the diagnosis.


To challenge the mainstream understanding of aging as decline and disease, we ask questions, such as the following: What really gives us joy and celebrates our existence? How can we experience endings as new beginnings, losses as opportunities for new gains? What are the opportunities to create our lives as we age? How do we cultivate what is latent and wants to come to the fore? How do we care for others and for ourselves as we age, taking into consideration and moving beyond medical diagnosis?

Goal 1: Define and Demystify the DSM Code

In the United States, a medical diagnosis is used to explain why an individual’s behavior deviates from the norm.  Individuals are labeled by the diagnosis.  Here are some examples: compulsive hoarder, paraplegic, Aspergers, diabetes, Alzheimers.

In this workshop, we shall rephrase how we view individuals with different abilities.  For example, a compulsive hoarder may become an individual in her later years who forages for memories in creative ways.   The quality of our lives depends upon how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us.  If we can approach each individual as unique, with his/her own set of strengths and challenges, then we can move beyond labeling to more constructive ways of perceiving others and viewing ourselves.

The expanding number of DSM categories demonstrate an increasing focus on disease by psychiatrists and pharmeceutical companies (Cosgrove, Krimsky, Vijayaraghavan, Schneider).   There is a big war currently going on regarding how many criteria a person needs to be diagnosed as having Asperger syndrome and whether Asperger’s should be consolidated with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Pervaisive Developmental Disorder. Dementia of the Alzheimer’s Type, has eight sub-classifications ( There is more to people than diagnoses of illnesses!

Goal 2: Examine Ways We Can Reframe Diagnoses through Metaphors

Norman Amundson, who experienced a heart attack in May, 2011, realized retrospectively that he had not been practicing what he was preaching. He re-read his early writings on metaphors and created metaphor cards to move us beyond the stories that we tell ourselves and the diagnoses with which we have been labeled. “We [counselors] can enrich our speech and practice through the use of metaphors, raise people’s spirits, and point to new futures  (Amundson, 2010). A metaphor is a figure of speech in which two unrelated ideas are used together in such a way that the meaning of one of the ideas is superimposed and lends definition to the other.

One of the most difficult tasks for most older (and many younger)  individuals is to let go of material possessions, downsize, and adjust to a new environment.  When the need to collect gets out of control, leading to a chaotic physical environment  or even taking things that one does not own, the medical profession diagnoses individuals who demonstrate these characteristics as “compulsive hoarders.”  Compulsive hoarding is one of 365 mental disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. Hoarding is the excessive acquisition and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that would seemingly qualify as useless or without value..  When Mahatma Gandhi died, he had five things: glasses, bowl, diary, prayer book spoon, and loincloth. The average person had 20 to 30,000 items. Who is hoarding? Shabahangi notes, “We do the diagnosis because we are diagnosing ourselves. We are scared of psychosis because we see that in another that is wrong.  We are scared of being different or wrong. We need to go beyond diagnoses, to see our selves as other than  labels.”

Let’s see how we can incorporate metaphors to help people who hoard live safer, more enjoyable lives. Consider replacing the DSM phrase “compulsive hoarders” with the metaphor “foraging for memories.” We can develop ways to help our clients forage for memories, such as creating aprons with numerous pockets and giving such a client a little metaphoric gift, symbolizing love, from a pocket. Residents can design and wear their own aprons to collect little trinkets.  The give and take is a multi-sensory interaction, so much needed by those who may be in need of human contact (foraging for love).

Goal 3: Provide a Toolbox of Life-affirming Wellness Activities that Can Be Used with Clients To Move beyond Medical Diagnoses

To move beyond the DSM, we focus on wellness. The term “wellness” is used frequently, but do we really know what it means both in our own lives and in the lives of others? Being “well” used to refer merely to the absence of illness. Wellness today refers to a state of well-being, even if we have a diagnosed “illness.”  According to Best-Martini, wellness includes our physical, social, cognitive, emotional and spiritual health.  She notes that everybody can participate in and benefit from a focus on wellness, including young and old, physically and emotionally fit, or physically and emotionally challenged individuals. The “Wellness Tree of Life” (Best-Martini, 2007) is a metaphor that can be transformed into an activity and applied by elderly care providers and individuals in transition.

Another wellness metaphor Best-Martini created is the “Iceberg Model.”  She says, “Illness and health are only the tip of an iceberg. To understand their causes, you must look below the surface.” The Iceberg Model places “State of Health”  at the tip of the iceberg and the most visible. But under the water’s surface are the Lifestyle / Behavioral Level- Cultural / Psychological / Motivational Level and the Spiritual/Being/ Meaning Realm.

To determine our state of health, we need to look at all of these aspects of our lifestyle and decide what needs to be changed, altered or added. There will always be areas that we cannot change, such as a pre-existing genetic disorder, but we can manage our lives in a more balanced way and with more awareness by focusing on wellness. According to Best-Martini, we need to practice what we preach, to be aware of and understand the concepts and consequences of our own lifestyles, and also to role model wellness. Best-Martini, who is an occupational therapist and exercise teacher,  says, “With regular exercise, participants will experience  better circulation, improve sleep patterns which improve coping skills, feel more energetic, feel more positive, have a better appetite and improve digestion and create positive social interactions.”

Initial Questions To Ask

  1. In what areas of wellness (physical, social, cognitive, emotional and spiritual health)  are you strong?
  2. What areas of your life can you improve?
  3. What is one metaphor that can help you improve the quality of your life? For example, “foraging for memories apron” to replace the DSM diagnosis of “compulsive hoarding.”
  4. How might you apply this metaphor to improve one wellness area in your life? Consider the following: (a) your strengths (b) behavior that you want to change, ( c) your goal, (d) action/s you will take to meet your goal.  Keep it simple!

*If you need help in identifying those areas in which you are strong, or which you could improve, here is a toolbox of wellness surveys and life-affirming wellness activities that counselors can use with clients to move beyond medical diagnoses.


In this post, the authors rephrased how we can view individuals with different abilities.  The DSM code was defined and discussed. The authors examined positive ways counselors can reframe diagnoses through metaphors, such as replacing the compulsive hoarding diagnosis with the metaphor “foraging for memories.” Several wellness surveys and a toolbox of life-affirming wellness activities were provided to help clients to move beyond medical diagnoses. The view that each individual is unique, with his/her own set of strengths and challenges inspires us to move beyond labeling to more constructive ways of perceiving others and viewing ourselves.

Additional Resources


Dr. Sally Gelardin’s mission is to bring together people and ideas in creative ways that emphasize mind/body/spirit wellness. She earned a doctorate in International and Multicultural Education, two Masters degrees in education and counseling, and is a Qualified Activity Coordinator, per OBRA Federal Guidelines & California Title 22. Gelardin is author of three books, including Career and Caregiving: Empowering the Shadow Workforce of Family Caregivers. She has conducted over 150 live and recorded interviews with industry experts, over 50 of which are devoted to aging and later life issues. In her current position as media specialist for AgeSong Elder Communities, she spreads the AgeSong philosophy of lifelong learning and aging as growth. Contact:  415.312.4294,,,

Dr. Nader Robert Shabahangi is a licensed psychotherapist, businessman, author,  publisher, and advocate for marginalized groups of society.  He has led anticipatory bereavements groups for Coming Home Hospice; founded the Pacific Institute to train psychotherapists in a multicultural, humanistic approach to counseling  and to provide affordable therapy services to the many diverse groups in San Francisco; and developed an innovative Gerontological Wellness Program to provide emotional and mental health care services for the elderly. In 1995, he started AgeSong to develop and operate assisted living communities., and

Marilyn Harryman, M.S., GCDF, DCC, is Counselor Educator/Supervisor, University of LaVerne; former Counseling Services Coordinator and Secondary School Counselor, Oakland Schools; co-author, High School Success Guide – a tool to help students plan and make informed choices; and producer/host of “CCC Live!” “The Counselor Community Connection”, KDOL TV 27. She is a counselor association representative to the Pupil Services Coalition for legislative issues; a Distance Credentialed Counselor; a Global Career Development Facilitator; and a Career Counselor with the  Bay Area Career Center, San Francisco. Contact:,

A Change in Attitude Can Change Our Life

I woke up this morning so thankful. I went to sleep late last night, working on a “need-to-be-completed-tomorrow” assignment. Yes, I work long hours.  But I love my work and look forward to each day.  And I get an opportunity to take walks during these beautiful, sunny, nearly spring days. Residents of AgeSong are so appreciative of companionship and someone to listen to them, which is my job. Yesterday Tom, who was a librarian for most of his working life, guided four of us through back streets, lined with small industry, to the railroad tracks. Tom was the perfect leader. He knew which side of the street to walk on (the sunny side and where buildings blocked the wind) and told stories along the way.  Speaking of appreciative – he was so grateful to go for a walk – he needs an escort when he leaves the AgeSong at Bayside Park elder community since he walks with a walker and his neck is in a brace. On the way back, we discovered a chocolate-making factory. The person in charge generously gave us each a caramel chocolate. Following are Nader’s Musings on how we view aging and our attitude toward life, in general.

Sally Gelardin, AgeSong Journalist

Our Choice, Decline or Deepen

Nader Shabahangi, CEO, AgeSong Elder Communities and AgeSong Institute

To age means to live. To live means to age. Today’s fascination with anti-aging measures overlooks this simple truism. Not to age is to arrest our growth and development, is to die, metaphorically and literally.  The anti-aging movement looks at our physical bodies alone. It mistakes the package as the content of our lives. This is akin to buying a carton of milk and having more concern about the looks and color of the carton than its content. Imagine going to the store and purchasing a box of milk without paying attention to the milk’s expiration date? This is what we are doing when we talk about anti-aging, when we make the body’s appearance more important than our internal growth and maturation.

Over a hundred years ago the brilliant American psychologist William James stated poignantly that the single most important discovery of our age is that a change in our attitude can change our life. This is good news for us human beings as we have a choice in the way we want to look at life, i.e., in a way that gives us a sense of gratitude for all of who we are and all of what is; or are we choosing to look at life as an ongoing series of sufferings and turmoil to which we are, against our will, being subjected. This, indeed, is our choice.

Similarly, it is our choice to look at life from the viewpoint of ongoing decline as we age or from the perspective of ongoing growth and maturation. The former point of view imparts on us the specter of doom, of continued deterioration and, frankly, a life with increased suffering as we approach our later years. The latter point of view regards life as an ongoing process of learning and deepening, of continued maturation and broadening of vision. This is our choice. Which direction do you choose?


AgeSong Senior at Bayside Park | 1440 40th Street, Emeryville, California 94608 | 510-594-8800 | License # 015601452

AgeSong Retirement Communities: Locations throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco and the East Bay: San Francisco-Hayes Valley • San Francisco-Laguna Grove • Oakland-Lake Merritt • Oakland-Lakeside Park • Emeryville-Bayside Park • Castro Valley-OakCreek

Post-Modern Dance Artist Anna Halprin To Perform The Courtesan and the Crone

DOWNLOAD FLYER:  Anna Halprin Event 

Anna Halprin, world-famous post-modern dancer, highlights Women’s History Month with a performance of The Courtesan and the Crone at AgeSong, at Lake Merritt, 1800 Madison Street, Oakland, CA 94612,  Saturday, March 24, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm, followed by a discussion led by Nader Shabahangi,  AgeSong CEO. She first performed this dance for AgeSong to a standing ovation crowd at the Poetics of Aging Conference , November, 2011. The upcoming free performance is open to the public.  Attendees are welcome to get together with friends earlier for Saturday brunch and join Lake Merritt residents for the 3:30 performance. After the performance and discussion, all are invited to a Poetics of Aging 2012 Planning Meeting.

RSVP at 510-903-3600

Nonogenarian Halprin has written several books, including Movement Rituals, Moving Toward Life: Five Decades of Transformational Dance and Dance as a Healing Art. She currently does research in connection with the Tamalpa Institute, based in Marin County, California, which she founded with her daughter, Daria Halprin, in 1978. She co-created, with her husband, the late landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, of the RSVP Cycles, a creative methodology that can be applied broadly across all disciplines. A documentary film about her life and art, Breath Made Visible directed by Ruedi Gerber, premiered in 2010.

Chronological History of Anna Halprin’s Work

Breath Made Visible by Ruedi Gerber (April 02, 2010)

Finally, as she approaches her 92nd birthday, Marin County-based dance pioneer Anna Halprin is honored with a documentary that reflects her wide influence and eternally questing spirit: “Breath Made Visible.” The interviews with colleagues are revealing, and the moments that Halprin shares with her famed landscape architect husband, Lawrence (who died in October), glow with a deep mutual affection.

Anna Halprin Experience As Dance (2007)

This first comprehensive biography examines Halprin’s fascinating life in the context of American culture-in particular, popular culture and the West Coast as a center of artistic experimentation from the Beats through the hippies. As she follows Halprin’s development from youth into old age, Ross describes in engrossing detail the artist’s roles as dancer, choreographer, performance theorist, community leader, cancer survivor, healer, wife, mother, grandmother and great mother.

The Planetary Dance Manual

An art work of the Planetry Dance Score as exhibited in “Origin of Performance” 2006 in Lyon, France at the Contemproary Museum of Modern Art and at the Yerva Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco 2008. Created by Anna Halprin, James Nixon and Russell Bass. Graphic Design by Stephen Grosberg

Festival D’automne A Paris (2004)

Shown in this video of the performance: Parades and Changes (1965), Intensive Care; Reflection on Death and Dying (2000) and an impromptu site-specific promenade performance En Route (2004). The international company of musicians, composers, dancers, and designers created especially for the occasion testify both to her range of artists who have worked with her and their loyalty to her continuing creative interrogation of dance.

Seniors Rocking

Seniors Rocking was a performance created with over 50 local seniors from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Halprin chose a meadow by a lagoon for the performance site. The use of rocking chairs enabled everyone to participate. This simple tool evolved to symbolize the ongoing force or life force. The culminating moment in the film occurs when dancers leave their rocking chairs and walk hand in hand to the lagoon to send their legacies with the birds to carry out to the world.

Anna Halprin (2004)

An extensive guide to Anna Halprin’s work written by certified practitioners. The work includes an overview of Halprin’s life and the evolution of her work as well as an investigation of her methodology including the Life/Art Process, RSVP Cycles for collective creativity, and the five stages of healing. Worth and Poynor also analyze Anna’s community performance rituals Circle the Earth and The Planetary Dance and her approach to work through movement explorations and scores.

Returning Home (2003)

Returning Home is a breathtaking and groundbreaking dance documentary in which 80-something Anna Halprin, pioneer of postmodern dance, uses movement as a means of connecting the individual to nature, and art to real life. In collaboration with performance artist Eeo Stubblefield, Halprin moves along thresholds of earth, wind, water and fire, discovering lessons in loss and liberation.

Returning To Health With Dance Movement And Imagery (2000)

Anna offers the wisdom of her life experience as a dancer, teacher, and facilitator for healing. She tells her own story as a cancer survivor and the stories of many others with deep compassion and clarity, from her own uplifting perspective. This book serves as a guide to understanding the emotional processes of a health crisis, as well as giving clear guidlines in the form of 10 different lessons plans for how to work with these insights.

Moving Toward Life: Five Decades Of Transformational Dance (1995)

Moving Towards Life brings together for the first time Anna’s essays, interviews, manifestos, and teaching materials, along with over 100 illustrations, providing a rich account of the work that radicalized an entire generation of performers.

Embracing The Earth Dances With Nature (1995)

Embracing the Earth shows dancers under the artistic direction of acclaimed dance artist, Anna Halprin, moving with the shapes, rhythms, and textures of nature. Intimate and meditative imagery transports us to a place where self and environment merges, to a point of understanding that the human body and the body of the earth are one and the same.

Circle The Earth, Dancing With Life On The Line (1989)

A documentary of the 1989 healing dance by Anna Halprin and by people living with AIDS, ARC and HIV+ status along with their caregivers, supports and friends.

Dance For Your Life/Ritual of Life and Death/Tree Dance

Steps Theatre Company For People Challenging AIDS (1986)

Positive Motion: Challenging Aids Through Dance And Ritual (1988)

Positive Motion is an exploratory dance group for men with HIV/AIDS.

My Lunch With Anna (2005)

By Alain Buffard

When French choreographer Alain Buffard set out to create a film about the legendary American dance artist Anna Halprin, the pair staged a series of lunches on sites that were used for her performances in San Francisco, her famous dance deck in Marin County, the Berkeley Art Museum, and Stinson Beach.

Planetary Dance 2003

Planetary Dance. A dance ritual on Mount Tamalpais. A prayer for peace among people and peace the earth.

Right On/Ceremony of US (1968)

In 1968 Ann Halprin simultaneously developed two companies, one in San Francisco of all white dancers, and another in Watts of all black dancers. In a rehearsal process that was, in the words of Janice Ross “not so much a dance as a lived experiment” Halprin guided the two groups of dancers into experiences that both elicited and challenged racial stereotypes, creating a space where political and personal anger and despair could be expressed, and where reconciliation could be envisioned.

Grandfather Dances(1996)

Powerful solo work in which Anna Halprin recounts a childhood story of watching her grandfather dance and sing the rituals of Hasidic Judaism.  In Halprin’s own words: “I’ve searched my whole life to find a dance that means as much to me as my grandfather’s dance meant to him.”

Inner Landscapes(1991)

Documentary that tracks the parallel histories of Anna Halprin’s work as a dancer/choreographer and Lawrence Halprin’s work as a landscape architect.


AgeSong at Lake Merritt | 1800 Madison Street, Oakland, California 94612Equal Housing Opportunity  |   510-903-3600
All content © AgeSong. All rights reserved.

AgeSong at Lake Merritt Services: Senior Care, Senior Living, Senior Residential Care Home, Board & Care Facility, Assisted Living, Independent Living, Retirement Living, Retirement Home

AgeSong Retirement Communities: Locations throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco and the East Bay: San Francisco-Hayes ValleySan Francisco-Laguna GroveOakland-Lake MerrittOakland-Lakeside ParkEmeryville-Bayside ParkCastro Valley-OakCreek

Wesley, The Quiet Yogi


What’s it like to lead one’s life as a teacher of the practice of Yoga and meditation? Meet Wesley Zineski, a Yoga practitioner who has spent his entire adult life in this practice.

Swami Suryadevananda and friends will offer a tribute to Wesley,  1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on March 4 at AgeSong, Laguna Grove, 624 Laguna Street, San Francisco. AgeSong Institute and AgeSong Elder Communities are pleased to sponsor this presentation, the second in a series of spirituality workshops this winter/spring (see Introduction to Passsage Meditation, February 25).

In a recently published book, The Quiet Yogi, Swarmi and other practitioners share remembrances of their friendship with Wesley through letters, prayers, notes, clippings, photos, and even recipes.  The book was obviously a labor of love.

Wesley was a Holocaust survivor who earned a living initially in the auto industry and later by running Launromats.  During the 60s, and for the next 40 years, he would draw together friends throughout the world to share Yogic practice.

Swarmi, a poet, songwriter, and contributor to The Quiet Yogi,  offers the following comment on Real Friendship:

Here is such a beautiful picture: Real Friendship with all – a taxi driver in Japan sharing his lunch with a pigeon. They always dress very nicely and are well groomed and courteous. Look at the other one waiting for his meal. We worry about so much unnecessarily! Some talk about brotherly love, some just live it…

Samples of Swami’s poetry:

Can the Heart Expand to This

Till Foolishness is Exhausted

Download attached flyer of the Quiet Yogi event.


AgeSong at Laguna Grove | 624 Laguna Street San Francisco, California 94102 | Phone: (415) 318-8670 | License Number 385600372Equal Housing Opportunity All content © AgeSong. All rights reserved.

AgeSong at Laguna Grove Services: Senior CareSenior LivingSenior Residential Care Home, and Board & Care Facility including: High Needs Assisted Living • Alzheimer’s Disease Services •Secure Dementia Care • Memory Care • Behavioral Health Care • Emotional Care • Hospice Care •Respite Care • Clinical Non-Ambulatory Care • Geriatric Care • Disabled Care • Programs that Address Difficult and Challenging Behavior

AgeSong Retirement Communities: Locations throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco and the East Bay: San Francisco-Hayes Valley • San Francisco-Laguna Grove • Oakland-Lake Merritt • Oakland-Lakeside Park • Emeryville-Bayside Park • Castro Valley-OakCreek

Passage Meditation Featured on February 25

A few days ago, I asked you to imagine if the Poetics of Aging Conference happened every day of the year.  Today I am going to share an upcoming  San Francisco AgeSong event that could have been a conference highlight. On Saturday, February 25, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm,  Passage Meditation, an eight-point program designed by Eknath Easwarn, will be presented by his students at AgeSong’s Laguna Grove community on the rooftop sunroom. There will be no charge for this event.

In Passage Meditation, you meditate on inspirational passages from the world’s great wisdom traditions.  For more information, call the Blue Mountain Center at 800.475.2369 or visit .

DOWNLOAD FLYER in PDF format to read more: SF Seminar 2012 (1)


AgeSong at Laguna Grove | 624 Laguna Street San Francisco, California 94102 | Phone: (415) 318-8670 | License Number 385600372Equal Housing Opportunity
All content © AgeSong. All rights reserved.

AgeSong at Laguna Grove Services: Senior Care, Senior Living, Senior Residential Care Home, and Board & Care Facility including: High Needs Assisted LivingAlzheimer’s Disease ServicesSecure Dementia CareMemory CareBehavioral Health CareEmotional CareHospice CareRespite CareClinical Non-Ambulatory CareGeriatric CareDisabled CarePrograms that Address Difficult and Challenging Behavior

AgeSong Retirement Communities: Locations throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco and the East Bay: San Francisco-Hayes ValleySan Francisco-Laguna GroveOakland-Lake MerrittOakland-Lakeside ParkEmeryville-Bayside ParkCastro Valley-OakCreek

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AgeSong at Bayside Park Rocks

February 1, 2012. Dr. Paul Freeman’s video documentation of World Rock Art is featured on the front page of AgeSong at Bayside Park’s first newsletter.  Dr. Freeman presented his work February 1 to the AgeSong Elder Community.

Bayside final



Dr. Paul Freeman spent his professional career as staff psychiatrist at the Chinatown Medical Health Clinic in San Francisco where he specialized in the field of Transcultural Psychiatry – encouraging and developing treatment modalities that draw both on Western medicine, and traditional healing practices. His avocational passion of forty years, that paralleled his interest in traditional healing, was the pursuit and video documentation of World Rock Art. Paul Freeman traveled up and down California, throughout the Western United States, and around the globe creating video documents of these fragile cultural sites. His first presentation at Bayside Park on February 1, 2012, highlighted the World Heritage rock art sites of the Tassili Plateau in central Algeria. The video takes us on an expedition from Paris, to Algiers, to the Saharan oasis of Djanet, and high onto the Tassili plateau where Paul films an 8,000 year tradition of painting and carving.

AgeSong Senior at Bayside Park | 1440 40th Street, Emeryville, California 94608 | 510-594-8800 | License # 015601452

AgeSong Retirement Communities: Locations throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco and the East Bay: San Francisco-Hayes Valley • San Francisco-Laguna Grove • Oakland-Lake Merritt • Oakland-Lakeside Park • Emeryville-Bayside Park • Castro Valley-OakCreek

RSVP 510-594-8800 or email

Aging Career Waitress Featured in World Premiere of Counter Attack

Residents of AgeSong Bayside Park are looking forward to attending the world premiere of Counter Attack, a comedy about the importance of an aging career waitress. Stagebridge, the nation’s oldest senior theater company, unites playwright Joan Holden and director Sharon Lockwood with Joan Mankin as Marlene, an aging waitress and SF Mime Troupe alums for a poignant look at the charged subjects of aging, career, and family dynamics. The play is loosely based on the award-winning book Counter Culture by Candacy Taylor (featured in the New Yorker and SF Chronicle).

Performances Wednesday and Thursday 7:30 PM, Friday 8:00 PM, Saturday 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM and Sunday 2:00 PM, February 3 – March 4. Dark Wednesday, February 15.

Where:  Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave, Berkeley, CA 94708

Tickets: $18 – 25, group discounts available

Box Office: and or call (510) 444-4755.  For group ticket sales call Jamie Flaherty-Evans at (510) 444-4755 x 122.


Occupy AgeSong: An Intergenerational Evening of Jazz and Discussion


For over 35 years, before I became affiliated with AgeSong, I rarely went to jazz clubs, maybe once every few years.  It’s a shame because I really love jazz and blues.  Years ago, as a young professional in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, listening to top blues and jazz for the cost of a beer at Ryles Jazz Club in Inman Square was my favorite weekly evening event.
Having lived in the San Francisco Bay area for about 30 years, I could have frequented the jazz clubs, but I didn’t – all sorts of midlife work and bringing-up-family reasons  - never enough time for jazz clubs. That is, until I met Nader Shabahangi, the Founder of AgeSong’s Assisted Living and Elder Communities in the Bay area.  Last year, he enlisted my help to launch the Poetics of Aging Conference.  In the process of coordinating the conference,  I was fortunate to meet many top Bay area jazz singers, musicians, poets, storytellers and other creative performers.

Tonight several of these jazz performers, plus others,  performed again to a live audience at the corner cafe between Hayes and Laguna, connected to AgeSong’s Hayes Valley Elder Community. This existing cafe space  is now open to intergenerational uses by the outside, community, as well as by AgeSong’s residential communities.  Nader envisions the location as “an Elders Academy, a place where elders can give back – where the old teach the young, the young the old, where we establish again eldership.” His vision is further described in the Pacific Institute’s Elders Academy Press. Hayes and Laguna could be the most up and coming corner in the city!

What was unique about tonight’s gathering is that young adults in their 20s mixed with elders through their 80s and everything in-between. They came from throughout the Bay area, as well as from AgeSong’s Hayes Valley and Laguna communities. There was  a mixture of artists and professionals, retired professionals, and others who refused to retire. What everyone had in common was a love of jazz and blues music. This was a lively audience, dancing and moving to the beat.

As I socialized with attendees at this impromptu get-together, I met Deborah Spencer, whose brother Daniel was tonight’s drummer.  A jazz musician for 55 years, Daniel recently lost his wife and moved into AgeSong’s Laguna community across the street. Danny is a very good drummer. Tonight’s guitarist Marlina Tisch accidentally ran into Danny while he was performing at AgeSong, and agreed to join the group. A third musician, Harvey Roff, played the saxophone.  He had been a member of the Pickle Family Circus for 20 years.

At the evening get-together, I also met Alvin, who used to run Club Babar in San Franciso and before that Alvins in Michigan.  He knew the drummer and saxophone player, both of whom had played in his clubs. His wife ran a Montessori School, where he met Faith Winthrop, the solo singer/songwriter at tonight’s gathering. Faith’s daughter, who is now married with a daughter,  attended Alvin’s wife’s Monetssori School when she was a child. Faith grew up in Boston with the mother of the guitarist Bruce Foreman.  Alvin sometimes gets together with Bruce’s mother, who has lived in San Francisco for many years.

The connections continued. Bonnie Weiss, a musical theater historian sitting in the audience,  said, “I’ve known Faith Winthrop for over 28 years – we both taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  Not only is she a wonderful jazz stylist, but she credits her songwriters whose sons she sings and often tells interesting stories about them.” Other members of the audience who, like Faith, had been presenters or participants at the Poetics conference,  included Katharina Dress, a mediator and facilitator specializing in working with older adults and their families and Gidalia Rothman, who works with the Family Service Agency (and is a Klezmer musician in her spare time).

Faith Winthrop has sung with such luminaries as Eddie Duran, Billie Holiday, and Tony Bennett.  She has performed at top jazz and cabaret clubs alongside Woody Allen, Barbara Streisand, and the Basse Band, has performed on the “Today Show,” was founding director of Glide Memorial’s choir, and served as a faculty member of the SF Community Music Center and the SF Conservatory of Music. She’s also a vocal coach who has taught Ben Vereen, and other acclaimed artists.  After seeing Faith perform at this event and a couple previous events, I decided to take singing lessons from her (a first for me).

While the musicians were taking a break, Nader asked Betty Goren, 89, from AgeSong’s Lake Merritt community,  “What should we do in 2012?”  She responded, “Get your nieces and nephews to write to Washington.” Betty also advised the audience to gain knowledge about themselves, to recognize their good points,  but not to over-analyze, to take chances, to take advantage of what is offered each day, and to act on the spur of the moment, “not to wait for your hair to dry” or to say, “yes, but.”  She suggested that if we listen to other people’s point of view, we might even change our own opinion about something.

Betty has been a professor and counselor/workshop leader for 20 years. She worked at a women’s counseling and cancer center, taught child development/psychology at several university schools of social work and law, and has been an early childhood educator.  Betty worked for the Commission for Women for 12 years, taught every grade from kindergarten through college, and also taught in jail. As later told to Paul Ethier, AgeSong’s CFO, who had worked at some point in his career in a similar role for The Clorox Company, she had also worked for Maidenform Brassiere Company as head of accounts payable. Wow! I wonder what kind of work I’ll do in 25 years!

I got the sense that at this intimate jazz get-together everyone knew everyone else in some past life experience, and as if everyone were coming together now to re-connect. This was an amazing inter-generational event, where adults at any age and stage were honored, respected, enjoyed,  and valued.  There was a lot of talent at this gathering.  San Francisco has launched a new creative old age.  Stay tuned for more. Occupy AgeSong.

Dr. Sally Gelardin, AgeSong Today Journalist