Delivering Happiness – recreating marvelous memories

An estimated 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s or other dementias. At home or in senior housing communities, creating beautiful, vibrant, and active cultures where those who have cognitive loss can live with joy and purpose is important.

We believe that those who have memory loss can participate as fully capable people in an environment where the mind, body, spirit, and soul is stimulated – promoting physical and mental wellness.

In our senior housing communities, we are creating LivingMemories™ nooks in our Memory Support Neighborhoods.  We recognize that elders do not live in our work-space.  We work in their living space.

We decided to design living spaces to evoke memories of home life, work life, and creative endeavors. These spaces encourage the elders to self-direct their own lives as they remember and practice routines or life skills that were previously part of their daily lives. The team member role is a trusted friend and family support when needed.

We have seen first-hand men and women in the nursery nurturing dolls as their remembered babies. It is heart-warming as they dress them, feed them, change their diapers, and even sleep with them at night.  The parent and/or grandparent role is validated, inspiring a sense of purpose, love, and belonging.

What we’ve noticed with the nursery nook is that those who haven’t talked in a while are now talking; and in one instance, a person who was anxious, agitated, and refusing food is now eating.  Dorothy has been known to wander and exit seek. She has now found purpose and love by taking care of her “baby” in the nursery – often sitting for hours rocking the baby.

Dottie, who loves all things that sparkle, is often found smiling while at the beauty nook trying on items from the collection and showing them off to other elders, families, and care teams.

When I visit our Memory Support Neighborhoods, my heart sings as I watch the care teams entering the home of these elders and begin delivering happiness.

I see a young care team member learning alongside an elder craftsman Ruben, at a workbench. Another care team member is offering to babysit for the mothers and the grandmothers so they could tidy up the nursery.  A caring Administrator purchases flowers for Don, an avid gardener, and listens to him explain to her the proper way to plant and grow beautiful flowers.  Geraldine, once an FBI agent sits at her desk to review the daily schedule, telling me that she is in charge of making sure the employees wear their name tags.  Francesca, a pianist is playing piano at the music station as Adele dances.  We are unique.  Our team members truly work as a family unit to create and support a sense of purpose, love and belonging, self-esteem, safety, and home.

Our care teams are delivering happiness – and receiving it too!

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Candis Willis, To learn more  email     cwillis@compass-living.com

About the author: Candis Willis is the Director of Operations for the Southwest Region for Compass Senior Living. Candis lives in Redding, California. She started working with seniors in 1995 as a floor nurse and has spent her career working with elders in many different capacities, from admission coordinator to administrator. The best part of this work for her is connecting with residents and seeing them flourish in life when they thought life would be over because of leaving their homes. She loves having the opportunity each day to give back to them what they have given to so many others. In addition to being a nurse, Candis also holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and is a licensed administrator in California, Idaho, and New Mexico.

 

 

Edith, Denise, and Me – “I live every day like it is the FIRST day of my life!”

 

As I travel around the country, my greatest pleasure is connecting with elders living in our communities.  If the community has an available apartment I stay as a guest. I visited Majestic Rim Retirement Community in Payson Arizona and met Denise and Edith.  I recorded Denise and Edith’s stories for our Tiny Stories™ program and then Edith invited us to go hot-tubbing. We laughed as Edith showed us how she could still raise her feet above her head.

As we soaked in the hot tub we shared stories and talked about life.  Edith said, “You know, I believe in life before death.”   I said, “Really, tell me more!”  She shared more of her personal stories of both hardship and joy.  Edith reflected that life is a journey of mountaintops and valleys.  She said living in the present is the key.

“Today is the day where we have a choice to find our happiness.”  She said, “I live each day like it is the first day of the rest of my adventure!”

The next day, I hugged Edith and thanked her.   I told her that her life-example had a profound effect on me.

As I left Arizona to go home, I pondered my own life.  Living each day like it is my FIRST means not looking back with regret and  wishing  I ‘would have’ or ‘could have.’   I recognized I was free to continually reach out to newer, richer, deeper, life-changing experiences.

As human beings, we are most fully alive when we are changing and growing and stretching our boundaries in our quest to be all we are meant to be physically, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.  Edith, in her 9th decade, was living a vibrant, joyful, generous, and adventurous life every day.

My short visit with Edith and Denise was a big ‘aha’ for me!  Yes, life-affirming words from a wise. sassy, beautiful elder.


Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

Never too late to fall in love

“You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.” ~ Albert Einstein

Jerry Morris moved to Peachtree Village in Roswell, New Mexico in March of 2015, he was from Alamogordo New Mexico and was not too crazy about moving to Roswell where he felt like he was giving up his independence.  His daughter lives in Roswell and for various reasons, she felt like having her father closer would be great.

Jerry adjusted to living in a community setting and he was enjoying the benefits Peachtree had to offer –  from planting a community garden, tending to hens, even placing first in the  Eastern New Mexico State Fair for  growing  the largest pumpkin.

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Betty and Jerry found love at Peachtree Village Retirement Community!

Little did Jerry know that he would find love again.

In the summer of 2017 a caregiver with Visiting Angels, Betty, walked into Peachtree Village and the rest is history.   Jerry and Betty formed a friendship which then quickly turned into something much more.

In December of 2017 Jerry popped the question and on January 3, 2018, they got married.

We always tell prospective residents and family members when they visit our community that this is a place where we encourage the residents to continue living their lives with the benefits of independence, purpose, concierge services, security, friendships, adventures– and yes, you might even find love here!


About the author:

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 9.26.07 AMMary Beth Lawrence is the Executive Director at Peachtree Village Retirement Community located in Roswell New Mexico, and a part of the Compass Senior Living family.    A graduate of New Mexico State University, and an excellent leader and businesswoman,  Mary Beth has a passion for elderhood and honoring and enriching the lives of seniors.  She has created a culture of mutual caring and respect, personal growth, and purpose for the residents and her team members.  Mary Beth is an inspiring example of a True North Leader,  guided by goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun.

 

Look Alzheimer’s in the eye this year.

Over the last few months our Director of Education and Innovation, Jean Garboden, and I have traveled to several of Compass’ senior living communities to conduct training we call Caring is What Makes Us Human: Empathetic communication with those who have dementia. Its evolved into a powerful and engaging series of stories that reflect the more than 10 years we’ve been working to try to understand dementia and finding a better way to care for those who have it. Our employees are required to attend. It’s those that are not required to attend that inspire me.

For several of the trainings, we’ve had elders and family members join us. In one recent session, I was inspired looking out at the elders’ faces that were engaged in the conversation. They were there because they wanted to be. They aren’t afraid of knowing what Alzheimer’s or other dementias can do. And, with their presence, they are facing it head-on. Elders are the ones that may see this daily amongst their peers and wonder, “am I next”? And yet, they were the ones most interested in learning about how they can care, or at least understand, what it means and how to help others.

These elders inspire me because they are engaging in the conversation that most are too afraid to have. They are arming themselves with the knowledge that will help to eliminate fear. They are building understanding that those with dementia are still there and they are whole human beings to be loved, not feared. They are showing us that age, impairments, and change are not to be feared, but understood and accepted. The elders that engage in this conversation are quiet ambassadors to making a better elderhood for the rest of us that will eventually be there.

Like cancer, the movement to find a cure for Alzheimer’s is growing because most of us know, or have known, someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. If you haven’t yet, you will. By learning about dementia and how we can still communicate with those who have it, you participate in the movement to change the language around “locked units”. These are not prisoners to be locked away. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, aunts, and uncles. They are in need of being safe and cared for, yes. But, they are not to be feared and avoided. They simply need us to look them in the eye, sing to them, dance with them, and know they still desire to be heard and understood.

As this new year starts please make a resolution that will make real change with one simple act. Resolve to learn more, participate in conversations, and try to understand Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Follow in these elders’ footsteps and learn what you can do to help just one individual. After all, caring is what makes us human.


About the Author:  

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Amira T. Fahoum is the Director of Marketing and Director of Operations, Northwest Region for Compass Senior Living located  in Eugene, Oregon. Her path to senior living started when she simply decided to be open to possibilities in life. Possibilities are what led her to what is now a career in serving elders and families. Possibilities also led her into the world of becoming a Certified Eden Associate, Certified Validation Worker, Levels I and II, and a licensed Assisted Living Administrator in Oregon. On her journey with Compass, she has found true reward in working with, and for, the people that care for others.

Total-ity Awesome! looking back at 2017

“Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

2017 was in many ways pretty tough, even violent – with the natural weather disasters and not-so-natural violence too.

But on  Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America was looking up. We were treated to an eclipse of the sun.

We have 21 Senior Housing Communities in 7 states.  Whether the eclipse was in the path of totality or not, our care teams and elders were looking up for a glimpse of this phenomena. Lots of people were looking up! Everyone in the contiguous United States, in fact, everyone in North America plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe saw at least a partial solar eclipse, while the thin path of totality passed through portions of 14 states – including Oregon and Illinois, where some of our communities are located.

We had the opportunity  firsthand to witness a celestial event so sublime that it’s been called “one of the most awe-inspiring spectacles in all of nature.” 

Looking back on 2017 – this day was one of the highlights of our shared experience! Elders and young people, families, and care team members stopped for a moment – looked up  into the heavens with awe, and felt connected to the goodness of one another, and the goodness of the universe.

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Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

 

 

Tis’ the season to be gentle

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.


I was talking with a friend about the holiday season and the stress she is under this month caring for her mother-in-law, working extra hours as a nurse, living with a teenager who is having her own stress-points, shopping for gifts, wrapping them, preparing the menu for the Christmas meal, and more.

In the midst of this chaotic scene, she began to feel unappreciated and overwhelmed, and she lashed out at her husband, who is also feeling the stress of the season.  This ‘perfect storm’ of emotions was not pretty.   She loves her husband, her teen daughter, and her elder mother-in-law, and she even loves the ‘spirit of Christmas’.   This ugly emotional moment made her pause.   As she was sharing her story, I said, “Well, you know, Tis’ the season…”   With tears in her eyes, she said, “Yes, Tis’ the season to be gentle.”

Taking a moment – even a brief pause for self-reflection within a storm of criticism, harsh words, and blaming is good for the soul.   The fact is, my friend was not being gentle with herself.   She is a beautiful, kind, caring, empathetic person.

If self-care doesn’t come naturally, and as an empathetic caregiver you still insist on putting everything else before your own needs, you probably go into an over-serving mode during the holidays. You may go out of your way to make sure everything is ready, and everyone has the “best holiday ever.” Sound familiar?

Here are some simple ways to take a moment to pause for self-reflection and be gentle with yourself so you can be the very best version of your true self.

morning routine
Your morning routine might only be 5 minutes long to start, but even that will help. Use the time to sit quietly with a cup of tea, meditate, journal, or include other activities that feed your body, mind, heart, and soul.

take a walk
Go outside and take a short walk. Bundle up if it’s cold and head out with the intention of noticing the magic. Don’t worry about burning calories or tracking steps, just enjoy yourself.

laugh
Call or spend time with the person that makes you laugh harder than anyone else. Then laugh until you cry.

find the blessings in your messes
For some reason, we really like to beat ourselves up at the end of the year for all that we’ve done and left undone. Sometimes it takes a big heart-wrenching mess to wake us up, to inspire change, and to finally release us from the guilt of getting there in the first place. When our imperfections are splattered all over the floor, it becomes clear that we had to go through it, to get to the lessons, and then the enormous blessings.

apologize
Don’t worry about being right. No one wins that fight. If you can’t apologize for what happened, try “I’m sorry we aren’t as close as we were. Can we start over?” or “I’m sorry I hurt you.”

forgive
It’s not too late. Your forgiveness will not only heal their hearts, it will heal yours. P.S. You don’t need an apology to forgive someone.

say goodbye to guilt
Usually guilt is not guilt at all, but instead, it’s sadness that you couldn’t do more to help, disappointment that you didn’t achieve something you set out to do, or anger because you said “yes” to something that deserved a “no”.

breathe
Frustrated? Breathe in. Breathe out. Worried? Breathe in. Breathe out. Overwhelmed? Breathe in. Breathe out. Confused? Breathe in. Breathe out. Exhausted? Breathe in. Breathe out. Start there and you can often avoid over-thinking and over-reacting.

let go
There are benefits to moving through life, work, and relationships with a lighter step, a lighter look, and a lighter heart. If we want to be light, we have to let go.

be love
Instead of working so hard to please people, do it all, or control the world – just be love today.

Take care of yourself over the holidays and always. It’s the best gift you can give yourself and everyone you love.  Yes, it tis’ the season to be gentle!


jean-garboden
Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

Care Teams – engaged as investigators, and solution finders

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” ~Dalai Lama

“You are a miracle! You have dropped down from heaven to be here with me.” Those are the words I heard from an elder living with Alzheimer’s disease a few weeks ago. I shared with the team earlier in the day that I am doing aromatherapy research. We sampled a few essential oils on cotton balls during a short morning stand up meeting. Later a care team member came to me and asked to experiment with the oils to see if we could relieve agitation for a woman she was caring for. As I approached the elder, made eye contact, and spoke to her, asking permission to put a drop of lavender oil on a cotton ball to put in her pocket, she said those amazing words, “You are a miracle!”  We held hands and talked for a few minutes….. she made my day.

It truly does feel like magic or a miracle when I connect or I can support a care team member to connect with an elder who is longing for the touch, the voice, and the love of another person.

When I do dementia training in a community, I usually first do classroom instruction teaching an empathetic communication approach that is person-centered and elder-directed.  For several days after the classroom training, I live in the community, doing hands-on coaching and role modeling the methods. I am present on all 3 shifts, and I learn so much from the elders and the care teams.  This is a reciprocal learning laboratory, with real-life situations.

What warmed my heart that day was that the care team members were fully engaged as investigators, and solution finders.  They had learned about the basic human needs as defined by Maslow, and how to identify unmet needs.  They understood the power of touch and being present.  They had learned how to utilize empathetic speech, touch, and approaches. They were using the tools and tips that they had learned on that first day; recognizing that they had the ability to do critical thinking to determine ways to support and guide elders who are trying to find their way in a confusing world.

This work can be empowering to care team members – filling them with joy and the deep knowing that they touched another soul and made a significant difference.

  • The care team member has the opportunity to be instrumental in calming the unknown fears of an elder.
  • The care team member truly makes an amazing connection with a 90-year-old who feels alone.
  • The care team member recognizes that the very nature of caregiving rituals: washing others, holding others, feeding others and dressing others – is intimate and sacred work that brings with it gifts of dignity, respect, intelligence, and kindness.
  • The care team member can be so in touch with another person, that they are seen as a miracle – as a gift from heaven!

I got an email from one of our communities with a note from a family, that said in part:

“Our prayers were answered! Your team  made our mother feel comfortable and loved from the moment she moved in.  As her family, we felt included throughout her stay. Thank you is not enough to express how appreciative we are to all of you for making her last months of her 89 years the easiest it could be as she transitioned to her heavenly home!  Forever Grateful, the family. P.S. Keep making a difference for people who need you.”

This is good work, hard work, rewarding work.   The world needs caregivers and leaders who are enthusiastically supporting families and elders and one another at the crescendo of an elder’s life as they prepare for their next great adventure.  In our communities, we are guided by goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun.    It is also important that we are guided by love for one another and for the work we are all called to do.

Love, Love, Love – All you need is Love – All you need is Love, Love. Love is all you need!


Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

You Only Live Once – Right Millennials?

The first time I saw ‘yolo’  was when I was texting with a colleague as we were discussing a decision.  When I questioned the possible costs, he texted back ‘yolo’.      I learned later that he had learned that acronym from his teenaged son.  YOLO = You only live once!   Maybe we do have something to learn from Millennials!

Millennials and Zillennials (Generation Z) are the next generation of workers in eldercare!  They will reshape the workplace, bringing with them energy and a desire to make a difference, with YOLO as their mantra!  We have an opportunity now to connect with these next generations to work alongside us as innovators and shapers of the future!

The reality is that 78% of new hires in senior care in the United States are Millennials as reported by McKnight’s Long-term care survey in 2016.

It is time for us, as Senior Housing Leaders, to reexamine and understand these generations, and time for us to embrace new leadership styles and cultures as thought leaders in the industry.

Millennials were raised to be confident individuals.  That’s good,  right?  Yet this confidence can be off-putting to their more seasoned co-workers. If you have a care team that is predominantly millennials, it works well to have a more seasoned mentor working alongside them. This mentor should be someone who guides, working parallel to them, allowing them to maintain their confidence and independence while receiving the reassurance that they crave.

Millennials’ have admirable attributes, including  that they are more accepting of diversity than were past generations, have capabilities with advanced communication and information technologies, have the ability to see problems and opportunities from fresh perspectives, and are more comfortable working in teams than were past generations.

Today, we have 4 generations working together in long-term care, serving our greatest generation (average age 85 years old). This gives us opportunities to harvest and unleash the power and creativity of a multi-generational team that may inspire and transform eldercare into a vibrant, interesting, and forward-thinking community of people.

The Millennials and Zillennials, along with the Boomers and Generation X have the honor to work and learn together to support elders on their life journey at this wonderful developmental stage of life called elderhood.

A bonus for all of us is a chance to learn from the wisdom and experience of elders – the 5th generation in our workplace!

  • The Greatest Generation  (born between 1900 – 1945 – The elders we serve! ages 72 – 100+)
  • The Boomers ( ages 53 -71 in 2017)
  • Generation X (ages 37-52 in 2017)
  • The Millennials (ages 23-36 in 2017)
  • The Zillennials (ages 5 – 22 in 2017)

As I have been teaching, listening, and learning with the millennials, and their younger counterpart, the Zillennials, I  recognize that they have some particular characteristics that will reshape the workplace, and make us better leaders.

  1. Ambition and desire to keep learning and move quickly upwards
  2. Collaborators – love to work in teams toward a common goal
  3. Embracing innovation and social and ethnic diversity
  4. Willingness to champion new ideas and take creative risks – YOLO!
  5.  Flexible approach to work
  6. Very regular feedback and encouragement.
  7. They want to feel their work is worthwhile and that their efforts are being recognized

The companies that have already been the most successful in attracting talented Millennials are naturally innovative employers who are never restrained by ‘how things used to be done’. These companies are not specifically targeting Millennials, but their culture, leadership style, and approach to recruitment and retention naturally appeal to the Millennial generation. And because of that, they are able to take their pick of the best younger talent around.

It is not too late for those of us in senior housing to gain the loyalty of Millennials  who seek employers with similar values according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016. Thus, those organizations that are guided by strong core values may be less likely to lose their Millennial employees.

We have an opportunity now to connect with these next generations to work alongside us as innovators and shapers of the future!


Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada.

Naughty people need love too!

“You better watch out, you better not cry! Better not pout, I’m telling you why…Santa Claus is coming to town. He’s making a list, and checking it twice; gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…Santa Claus is coming to town.” ~ J. Fred Coots, Henry Gillespie – 1934

As the holidays’ approach, I begin humming the old childhood songs as I go about my day.   This year as I listened to the words and the messages in my little-girl-mind, I realized that this was, indeed a strong message that was given to my generation.

  • Be a good girl or boy
  • It is best to be seen and not heard
  • Don’t cry!
  • Wipe that pout off your face!
  • You are naughty!
  • Be nice

But you know, as I have grown up, I have learned from the Elders that even those who are naughty need love! Sometimes we need to cry or pout, and express our anger and hurt!

The elders have taught me that

  • All human beings have basic human needs.
  • If those basic human needs are not met – we ‘act naughty’.  Some people say we have  ‘disruptive behaviors’ or we are ‘not being nice’.
  • If we recognize that ‘naughty behavior’ is merely an expression of unmet needs, we can respond with empathy to fill that need for the other person, and in doing so, give grace and connect with love and kindness instead of being annoyed.

Dr. Abraham Maslow created the hierarchy of needs in 1943, and I am teaching families and care team members to notice especially if a person living with a cognitive challenge is exhibiting what some people would consider  ‘naughty behavior’, to analyze and determine what basic human need is not met.

Maslow Hierarchy of needs

  • Is the person in pain?  (Physiological need)
  • Is the person frightened or afraid? (safety need)
  • Is the person lonely and longing for companionship? (Love and belonging need)
  • Is the person distressed at the loss of their purpose and status in life?  (Self-esteem need)

If you and I can understand the unmet need behind that ‘naughty behavior’ we can respond with empathy and help the person find peace.

Let me tell you a story of a man  living with dementia who was expressing  his unmet needs through outbursts of behavior, and how we discovered the solution to his needs utilizing Maslow’s hierarchy as a guide.

Paul is spending the entire morning walking the halls crying and calling out his wife’s name. “Dolly, Dolly, Dolly!”  A well-meaning care team member says, “Dolly went shopping, she will be back later.”  Paul begins to wail and scream her name, “Dolly, Dolly, Dolly!”   He is looking for her everywhere and is upset that he can’t find her. Another care team member recognizing his distress as an unmet need for the love of his wife says, “Paul, tell me about Dolly.  What color are her eyes?  What do you miss most about her?”   After a few minutes of expressing his love for Dolly, Paul says very quietly, “She has been gone a long time, I really miss her hugs.”      

The first well-meaning care team member told a ‘therapeutic lie.  Paul knows deep inside that Dolly did not go shopping, and his anxiety increased.  Paul is trying to communicate to someone that will listen that he misses Dolly.   When he was invited to share and release his deep feelings and heartbreak to the second care team member his unmet need for love and belonging was met – and he had peace.

  • Listening with empathy to determine the unmet need builds trustreduces anxiety and restores dignity
  • Painful feelings that are expressed and acknowledged by an empathetic listener will diminish.
  • Painful feelings that are ignored or suppressed will gain in strengthThe power of empathy to connect and to relieve pain that is pent up inside can bring peace of mind.

How many of us label or are labeled as  ‘naughty or nice’ based on our behaviors?  We are good just as we are.  It is ok to cry. It is ok to pout. We have been told since childhood to be happy, to be nice, to be a good girl or boy, and not to be naughty!  But sometimes, we are not happy, and we simply want someone there to hear us, and listen with empathy, and let us cry and release those painful feelings.  We can be the empathetic listener  for the elders we care for.  We can do this for family members, and we can do this for one another.

If you have friends or loved ones that are grumpy this holiday season… before you get annoyed at their ‘naughty behavior’  – think about it.  Are they expressing an unmet need?  Are they hungry and tired? Do they need a hug? Are they worried about money and finances? What is their unmet need?  Give them a little grace and a lot of love. Be there to listen with empathy, and support them to express their painful feelings.  You will make their day!


Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

 

Practice Gratitude – Attract good things to your life!

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

A few years ago I was traveling with a colleague, Amira.  We had a series of misfortunes, as happens sometimes in travel.  As Amira and I traveled together, enduring delayed flights, and grumpy travelers, we talked about how grateful we were to be together to make a presentation at the Washington Health Care Association about new dementia research and techniques.   At one point near the end of our trip, I commented, “Amira, this has been a long trip with lots of delays –  but have you noticed how nice everyone is – from the concession stand workers to the TSA, and beyond?”  We both stopped and looked at one another and then burst out laughing and proclaimed, “Maybe it is because we are so nice to everyone.”

I do believe that we attract what we give.  Being in a state of gratitude no matter what the circumstances is powerful! It gives us the courage to be and do anything – and it opens our hearts to creativity, kindness, and solution finding.

Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional well-being and physical health than those who don’t.

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate.

  • Gratitude is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love.
  • When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul.
  • Gratitude brings our attention to the present.
  • The deeper our appreciation,  the more our life flows in harmony with creative power.

Here are three powerful gratitude practices for you to try.

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal: One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practice was Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza. In the seventeenth century, he suggested that each day for a month, we ask ourselves the following three questions:

  1. Who or what inspired me today?
  2. What brought me happiness today?
  3. What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

2. Write a Thank You Letter: Make a list of at least five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person.

  • In studies of people who have practiced this form of gratitude, the results have been amazing.
  • Often the recipient of the letter had no idea what an impact he or she had had on another person and were deeply touched by the expression of such authentic gratitude.
  • While we may often thank people verbally, the written word can often be even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation.
  • A letter can also be re-read and treasured, creating joy and love.

3. Take a Gratitude Walk. Set aside 20 minutes (or longer if you can) and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature. As you walk, consider the many things for which you are grateful. Breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible.

Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life.  Be grateful and you will attract more good things!


Enjoy this 7-minute video about an experiment in Gratitude. A beautiful example of Gratitude practice number 2 – writing a letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person.

 


Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada