Honoring my grandmothers – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

in 1957 my young maternal grandmother, Maurine,  (age 45) was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lived in our home with my parents and me and my siblings for 5 years as she underwent the treatment that was available at the time. Treatment included radical mastectomy, hysterectomy and removal of ovaries, and intensive radiation therapy. In 1960, my 78 year old paternal grandmother, Ada, was also diagnosed with breast cancer.  She opted for no treatment.

Dr. Lerner, a breast cancer historian, and author of the book The Breast Cancer Wars: Hope, fear, and the pursuit of a cure in 20th century America wrote that in the 1950’s there was an enormous amount of very aggressive surgery done for not only breast cancer, but other cancers. The sense was that cancer grew in a very orderly manner, so if you could remove enough tissue in the area that contained the cancer, you could cure women. There was an operation called pelvic exenteration, in which a woman’s pelvic organs were all removed. And in the area of the breast, the doctors began to actually remove part of the rib cage to try to get to these elusive cancer cells. So there was a dramatic degree of disfigurement for these patients.

I, like many young women in the 1960’s and 1970’s lived in fear of getting breast cancer. As a very young woman in the early 1970’s I discovered a lump in my breast, and when I went into surgery for a breast biopsy, the physician told me that I would be going under general anesthesia, and if the tumor was malignant, I would wake up with my breast removed without having a chance to consult with another physician, or prepare myself.  When I awoke from the anesthesia, I had a bandage over an incision. I still had my breast!

Over the years I have seen the improvements in screening, diagnosis and treatment. The awareness brought forth by the American Cancer Society, and Susan G. Koman has saved lives! I got my mammograms regularly and had 12 more benign biopsies in 20 years – which were done in outpatient surgery or in physician offices.

I am grateful for  Maurine and Ada, who are my grandmothers and my heroes. Their journey and the memory of their spirit and bravery made me and my mother and sisters aware.   I am grateful to all of those who have been part of educating us about early detection and prevention. I am grateful to the scientists and researchers, and the fund raising efforts that have been initiated by passionate advocates for women’s health.  I am grateful for the cancer survivors who inspire us with their stories, and the  example of those who have left a legacy of their courage.

Learn more about breast cancer awareness at the National Breast Cancer Association.

“The goal is to live a full, productive life, even with all that ambiguity. No matter what happens; whether the cancer flares up again, or you die – the important thing is that the days you have had – that you will live.”  Gilder Radner


11062337_10206528118188840_645394201235573404_nAbout 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 health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living.

You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one

“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”

~~ John Lennon

Baby circus elephants spend the first year of their lives tethered to a stake in the ground by a 6-foot length of rope around their leg.  After that, a trainer can control them with a thin nylon cord tied to the same leg because the elephant thinks it can’t go any farther than the rope allows.

How many good people feel tethered to caregiving jobs, having personal desires for the future, but feeling hopeless and helpless, directed by the ringmaster – disempowered and unable to break free to grow, learn, and explore their own dreams and aspirations?

Four years ago we had a dream for our company, and we had goals to create a Senior Housing Organization guided by goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun.  It has been a successful and a beautiful journey, growing and learning together personally and collectively.   Like many senior housing companies, while we have had rewarding successes, we have also struggled with the employee retention dilemma in some of our communities.

Our executive leadership has attended conferences and webinars, read books, brainstormed at corporate retreats, studying the numbers, and taking a hard look at employee retention strategies. Some of us have read the book by Matthew Kelly, Dream Manager.  Kelly says,  “An organization can only become the best-version-of-itself to the extent that the people who are driving that organization are striving to become better-versions-of-themselves.”    From Kelly, I got new insight and raised questions.

We have defined our company hopes, dreams, and aspirations – What are the dreams of our care teams?

We are imagining how our team members would feel about a recruitment, hiring, and onboarding process where they  not only learn about the vision, mission, values, and expectations of the new company they are joining – but are also invited to share their own hopes, vision, values, and dreams  for their own lives. Paying a fair wage, employee appreciation programs and bonus structures are all good. But the bottom line is that our leaders must connect heart-to-heart with our teams.  To do that, we must become well-known to one another.

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Care team members at Desert Peaks Assisted Living, Las Cruces, New Mexico

All of us want to work in places

  • Where we feel immediately part of a nurturing team.
  • Where we are excited about making a significant impact on the world.
  • Where we are working and playing with people who have our back.
  • Where we are sharing our personal dreams and goals with the organization and one another.
  • Where we are encouraged and supported to reach for our dreams to be the-best-version-of-ourselves.

Finding a way to create an environment that helps employees-become-the-best-version-of-themselves – while at the same time growing each Senior Housing Community to-be-the-best-version-of-itself may seem like the purposes are diametrically opposed.  But they are actually complementary.

We can ask “What is the purpose of the employee?”   most would answer, “to help the company achieve its purpose.”  But this actually misses the point.

The employee’s purpose is to become the best-version-of- him-or-herself.  Popular opinion is that the people exist for the company.  The truth is that the company exists for the employee.

A new breed of company loyalty

Years ago, company loyalty was based on hanging around for a certain number of years in order to get a pension or a benefit.

Matthew Kelly says “The new breed of company loyalty will be built on the principle of ‘adding value.’ An employee is responsible for adding value to the life of the company, and the company is responsible for adding value to the life of the employee.” 

As a leader, I am not here simply to motivate, set expectations, produce results, and inspire.  I do this, certainly – but my greater goal (and dream) is to add value – to help my company and our employees to thrive!

I believe there is wisdom in Matthew Kelly’s observation that people who are driving organizations must be striving to become better-versions-of- themselves.  We as transformational leaders are looking to unleash the power of our teams, connecting them with our company’s vision, mission, purpose, and dreams. – and helping each person set goals for their own dreams, achieving more than they ever thought possible.  It’s a win-win!

When a company forgets that it exists for its customers, it quickly goes out of business.  Our employees are our first customers and our most influential customers.    Our company can only become the best-version-of-itself to the extent that we as leaders are striving to become better-versions-of-ourselves.”  


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.

 

Jon Morgan being presented with his award

Jon Morgan: An Inspiring Story

Jon Morgan is the Maintenance Director at Compass Senior Living’s communities in Green Bay, Wisconsin. And this is his story.

Dennis Garboden and Will Forsyth, Compass Senior Living principals, traveled to Green Bay last week to present Jon with the newly created Jon Morgan Award. When presented with the award, Jon said, “Thank you all again so much. You caught me off guard but it’s a real honor to have my name attached to your award. Without the support of all of you and my coworkers, who helped me mentally, I couldn’t have done it, so those are the true heroes to me. Thank you so much.”

These are Dennis’s words about how the award came to be:

On Labor Day of 2016 Jon had his foot amputated above the ankle due to unknown circulatory problems.  It was a situation that may have left most people devastated.  Jon was different – demonstrating uncommon optimism and courage.

Jon immediately started talking about learning to walk with a prosthesis and getting back to his life and to work.  As soon as was possible – Jon was visiting the communities – and if not quite able to do a job himself, was supervising and assessing and making sure things got done.  Jon had the attitude of “well, what can you do?”, as well as “other people have it worse”.  He even had a better sense of humor about himself and his situation surrounding this – than most others did.  He jokes about it and has even has a name for his stump:  Odie.   He also said that he thinks his golf game may have improved since!

Jon teaches us that adversity is inevitable, but difficulties or misfortune don’t have to keep us from achieving our intended goals and finding happiness in work and in life.  It’s how we overcome these adversities that can make all the difference. Every challenge successfully conquered serves to strengthen not only our will, but also our confidence, and therefore our ability to confront future obstacles.

Jon Morgan is the inspiration for the new Morgan Hero award.   His selfless acts of goodness for those he serves, inspires greatness, and demonstrates Compass Senior Living’s values of goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun. We have many Morgan Heroes working with us, and we are very proud and humbled to honor Jon as the inspiration for our first Morgan Hero Award.

Jon Morgan, we are grateful for your example to all of us.

For years to come, Compass communities will be given the opportunity to nominate other deserving employees based on Jon’s inspiring story from which the following criteria has been developed:

  • Maintains a strong work ethic and it is recognized by others
  • Has a sense of humor, makes us laugh, and takes things ‘lightly’
  • Takes notice of others and lends a hand to help, expressing kindness
  • Explores and seeks solutions for the greater good
  • Shares the workload and knows what needs to be done–and does it with grace and a generous spirit
  • Has open, spontaneous, comfortable, and uplifting communication with others
  • Gives heartfelt support and encouragement, genuinely caring for the team, families, and the elders
  • Has others’ backs during hard times and good times
  • Is a calm, inspiring leader and friend when things go wrong and when things go right
  • Does not blame or complain, embracing lessons learned
  • Thinks optimistically in the face of challenges encouraging and cheering on the team
  • Sees the True North qualities in other people– demonstrating humility and appreciation for the greatness in others
  • Communicates with goodness, confidence, and a positive spirit– expecting excellence
  • Has a welcoming smile, knows how to have fun and is a good listener
  • Has faith that if we do the right things, the right things happen
  • Takes ownership for mistakes, accepts responsibility, and seeks innovative solutions when things go wrong
  • Views each new situation as an opportunity to take initiative and make a difference or improvement
  • Even when things are stressful, has the ability to focus on what needs to be done, expressing gratitude to others as an example and role model of a True North Leader

 

We look forward to many years of honoring these amazing people in our midst. Thank you Jon for your inspiration!

Our found family is diverse, imperfect, and loving in every single way.

Cultures of Caring

What do you find when you start to look closely at assisted living communities? You find a treasure trove of love, kindness, and caring.

During National Assisted Living Week, I produced a campaign to share the joys, celebrations, and greatness of the people that make up our communities. I asked the administrators of our 20 senior living communities to send me photos, wisdom from their residents, and examples of what living in assisted living can really be like. When we looked at what they were sending and sharing on Facebook–we were overjoyed at the beautiful people caring for one another everywhere we looked.

Employee appreciation day at Sun Oak in Citrus Heights, CA

Caring for employees So often senior living companies call their employees “caregivers”. But, who cares for them? We believe that caring is a reciprocal relationship–that the care team and the elder are in a partnership to care for one another. Where one perhaps benefits from physical support, another benefits from emotional support or wisdom earned through many years of life experience.

PT_grandparents day family photo.jpgCaring for family
Families of elders living in our communities are often providing the hands-on care until mom or dad move into a supportive living environment. That’s when assisted living can really support families–by taking care of the daily needs so they can get back to having a relationship with the elder. Throughout the week, we saw many moments of caring for the families that have become part of our reciprocal care culture.

 

Caring for furry friends

SO_pet daySeveral of the communities recognized the role that furry family members play in our lives through events such as fundraisers to care for homeless pets and bring your pet to work day.  They are the companions that never complain, love unconditionally, and provide that unexplainable emotional care that only a pet can provide.

Elder participating in the Relay for Life in Florence, Oregon at Shorewood Senior LivingCaring for the community
It never ceases to amaze me at how much energy the elders and employees have for giving back to their communities. Alzheimer’s Walk fundraisers, homeless pet fundraisers, school supply drives, Boys’ and Girls’ Club support–the list goes on and on for the causes that our communities support to not only stay connected but care and love the communities that have loved them.

Caring for eldersouting at Carolina Assisted Living in Appleton, Wisconsin

And, of course, we can’t forget the elders that are at the core of what we do. During this week, the demonstrations of love and care for the elders that we learn from and feel loved by was overflowing. And, our teams gave back as much as they could through massages, parties, happy hours, dances, and recognition that we make up this family brought together by a common circumstance. And, have become much more than that.

Thank you to everyone that makes every day a culture of caring day!

Take a look at the week in review here.


About the Author:  

Photo on 9-7-17 at 4.53 PM

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.

Wisdom from Annie – Give life a second chance

Annie G lives at Peachtree Village Retirement Community in Roswell New Mexico and is our guest author today.

Annie teaches us that hearts can bloom suddenly bigger, and that love can open like a flower out of even the hardest places.  Annie is a beautiful woman who has experienced trials, struggles, loss and has found her way out of the depths.  It’s about overcoming obstacles; that’s the key to happiness.

Giving Life A Second Chance: Believing In Yourself And The Power Of Love – Annie G.

I often think about how I got to where I am today and how somehow everything that has happened, big or small in my lifetime has made me a better, happier, wiser and stronger person.

Now, this is coming from someone who’s lost a parent, struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts among a boatload full of other things. If you have ever heard the saying, “you can learn and grow from every experience,” I want you to know that this is indeed true.

When I look back to some of the hardest moments of my life, I can tell you that honestly each of these experiences has taught me some of the most important things you’ll ever learn:

  • Love can heal.
  • There are good people out there if you allow them in.
  • Memories of loved ones live on forever.
  • You cannot love anyone until you love yourself.
  • You alone are good enough.
  • Words can kill.
  • Friendship is sometimes bitter sweet.
  • You cannot please everyone.
  • And most of all, never settle or give up because life is a journey full of roadblocks and failures but the best comes when you refuse to let one closed door break you down and acknowledge that there is a purpose for everything.

When people ask my age, I say, “I’m 14 turning 15 in September!”

Whenever I tell people my story, they often ask me “Why are you so resilient? How can you be so strong?  What makes you so positive?” I usually laugh or smile in response. The truth is sometimes you don’t have a choice.

When you fall into really bad situations, you cannot waste a second feeling sorry for yourself. You have to survive, build a wall around yourself and push on.

Whenever people ask me, “How did you get through losing your dad at such a young age?” I always say “Sometimes you don’t get through it.” There were so many days when I couldn’t get out of bed. I was a mess always breaking down and other times I felt nothing at all. Grief spiraled me into so many different directions. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t living, just floating around like a lifeless fish.

For me, I found peace and happiness through the kind hearts of friends, teachers, counselors and other who kept me going.

Even though I still struggle with grief and many insecurities, I find so much joy in knowing that I have a purpose. I am meant to do amazing things, not just because that’s what my dad wanted, but because I know that I am good enough.

I want anyone out there who may be at a bad point in their lives or have been through similar experiences to know that life isn’t all a dark cloud.

There is light at the end of every tunnel and sometimes the rainbow you were looking for was right in front of you all along. Never ever give up on yourself because I promise you that there are people out there who care.

You are meant to be who you are. So never give up on your dreams or your goals.

Picture this – all of the hard stuff you’ve gone through is not what powers the stove. They are rather minor parts of the elements on the stove top that allow you to run smoothly. Their experiences do not define or dictate who you are. Never forget your past or where you came from but use them as motivation to be a better person.


Thanks to the Author:

We are grateful for the wisdom of Annie and the gift of her life-lessons.

In ancient times, the Elders carried the wisdom of the tribe. In today’s world that tribe is fractured and dispersed, as families are more transitional, and may not have elders to call upon.  The world needs the wisdom of our elders more than ever!

I have discovered a nonprofit organization named ElderWisdomCircle™ that was made possible in part through a generous grant from Google.

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

The Elder Wisdom Circle is an online inter-generational program pairing advice seekers with a network of seniors (“Elders”) who provide free and confidential advice on a broad range of topics.  Their mission is:

  • Provide an opportunity for all seniors to utilize their life experience and wisdom to help others.
  • Offer thoughtful and helpful advice to younger generations.
  • Elevate the value and worth of our senior community.

I encourage you to ask advice of the elders around you. If you work in senior housing, you have a lot of opportunities to learn. Or you may meet an elder at the supermarket or in your church. Most are willing to support your growth.  You may be surprised to learn that elders are still growing, and learning and evolving…just as we all are!

If you are an elder, I invite you to share your wisdom as a True North Elder in this forum as well.   You may contact me by email to submit a story.

Youth and Elders transformed and connected – Music makes Memories!

Isaac, student intern:”Music is an important part of my life,. When I am feeling down, music inspires me and takes me to another place. Giving music to elders is such a small gift of kindness with a powerful impact. Every elder deserves music in their lives!”

Isaac is a sophomore in high school.  He is interested in music and science and is fascinated by the power of music and how it improves his own sense of well-being as he plays guitar or listens to his tunes.    Isaac and I and another student, Bella partnered as student interns for high school credit on a Compass Senior Living project. This was inspired by the documentary Alive Insidewhich features  Olver Sacks, a neuroscientist, studying the impact of music on the limbic brain.

The Administrator and Life Enrichment Coordinator at Sundial Assisted Living in Redding California invited us to partner with them.  They recruited Eli a young volunteer who plays guitar to work with us so that the program could continue after Isaac and Bella left.

Isaac and Bella interviewed elders and worked all evening creating the play lists and downloading them onto mp3 players.  The next day they brought the headphones and the tunes. The smiles and evoked memories continued for days.

Isaac and Billie

Amy, the Business Services Director at Sundial Assisted Living said, “Billie came into my office this morning to tell me about how amazed she is at our brains. She started thinking about all the songs she has stored in her brain and the marvel is that they are all there after all these years. She also shared how much she enjoyed interacting with Isaac. Talking about music made her start thinking about other things… like who the members of the Rat Pack were. She even got into a conversation with another resident this morning about it and he helped her remember the one she was missing. I love it that she is walking around excitedly celebrating the wonder of music and memory and that the interactions of the last couple of days have stirred in her a desire to talk and think more about how music has played a significant role in her life.”


Another Compass Senior Living community in Las Cruces New Mexico, Desert Peaks Assisted Living & Memory Care has begun the process of implementing the Music Makes Memories Program.  Life Enrichment Coordinator, Adriana Garcia prepared this 3-minute video of what they are discovering!  WATCH THIS VIDEO!

The secret key to evoking memory actually emerges in the discussions with the elders AFTER listening to their playlist.

Adriana Garcia, Life Enrichment Coordinator

“Watching the transformations in the elders was breathtaking. Having watched ‘Alive Inside,’ I was already moved by what I had seen; but having it unfold before my eyes, with residents that I spend every day with, sent shock waves of emotion through me. It’s almost as though, just briefly, they were back to their old selves again. They knew who they were, where they had been, who they have known, and it was beautiful. The son of one of our residents who saw the video we made was taken aback. He couldn’t believe that she could remember something that had taken place when he was only 2 years old. His reaction was powerful, and it was incredibly special to be able to share these moments with him. I’m so grateful for this program and very excited to continue on this journey. The next obvious step is involving the families of the residents more and giving them this gift to use at any given time. I would encourage anyone to try this with their loved ones who may be suffering from memory loss. You can’t really appreciate the impact has until you are right there with them.”  Adriana Garcia, Life Enrichment Director


To learn more about the Music Makes Memories program, contact Jean Garboden

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 health care 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.

 

The day of the eclipse August 21, 2017

st louis eclipse path

I was traveling to St. Louis by plane the day of the eclipse, as the path of totality began its journey across the United States.     St. Louis got literally sliced in half by the path of totality, and the airport and the Arch did not get totality.

My plane landed at 1:00 pm, and I knew totality would be at 1:18.   I ran through the airport, past baggage claim and outside where people were looking up.   It was bright and sunshiny.   I  took my eclipse glasses out of my briefcase and stood with the onlookers.  I was able to see the eclipse as the moon covered most of the sun. Several of us started sharing our eclipse glasses with one another.   Everyone was very quiet.   There were only a few seconds when the light dimmed.  A great moment!

I was headed to Illinois where we have 5 Assisted living communities in Waterloo, Columbia, Red Bud, and Millstadt.  The residents and the employees celebrated the eclipse with gusto.  A once-in-a-lifetime experience for employees, families, and our 80 and 90-year-old residents!

The path of totality started in Oregon, where our home office, Compass Senior Living is located.  While our Eugene office was not in the path of totality, one of our new construction projects, Juniper Springs Senior Living, located in Redmond Oregon was.

For the elders, families, and our employees in Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Illinois – we will always remember where we were during the 2017 United States Eclipse!

KEEP WATCHING THE VIDEO.  AT ABOUT 15 SECONDS, YOU WILL BEGIN TO SEE THE PATH OF TOTALITY OVER REDMOND, OREGON


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 health care 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.

 

 

Adios and thank you, Glen Campbell for teaching us to ‘Try a little kindness” 1936-2017

Glen Campbell, the upbeat guitarist from Delight, Arkansas, whose smooth vocals and down-home manner made him a mainstay of music and television for decades, has died, his family announced on Facebook on Tuesday. He was 81. In 2012 he wrote and recorded his last new song, Adios.

He inspired us in many ways and showed us in the last few years that those living with Alzheimer’s are whole, complete beings who can inspire and teach us.   Go to his Facebook page to say goodbye.  And in gratitude for his life, let’s all show a little kindness.

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds, he’s sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way
You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets”


 


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 health care 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.

“Every time an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.”

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”– Rudyard Kipling

The Power to Transform

Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, and challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Our storytelling ability, a uniquely human trait, has been with us as long as we’ve been able to speak and listen. Not only do people love to tell stories, people love to hear stories!

Listen to this tiny story of Betty Meeks, who lives at Peachtree Village in Roswell New Mexico.  What a wonderful tiny story from Mrs. Meeks’ library of her lifetime! (read the transcription below the story)


Betty Meeks, storyteller

Rusty, Dusty, and the shoe

I named the story “Rusty, Dusty, and the shoe.”

Betty Meeks Tiny Stories-page-001[1]I taught first grade and one day, while the children were out playing during the lunch hour I was in my room grading papers. One of my little girls came in crying and I asked her what was wrong. She said, “Rusty and Dusty got my shoe and threw it over the fence!’

So I went out with her and I went over into the vacant lot and got her shoe, brought it back and gave it to her. I was not saying a word to the boys. They had seen me come out, so they knew that I knew what had happened.

So I let them play, and when the bell rang to come in and resume classes I brought my children in, got the rest of the class seated, and assigned them some spelling words to work on. Then I took the two little boys, which were identical twins down to the Principal’s office. They stood before the Principal’s desk, and I stood beside them and told the Principal what had happened. Then I stepped behind them because I wanted him to have their full attention.

So he said, “Did you really do that to Julie?” One little twin said, “Oh we didn’t, we didn’t,” and the other one popped in and he said, “Oh yes we did!” I was so shocked and amused that I had to clamp my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.

Well, the Principal went ahead and reprimanded the children, and I think he gave them a swat. Then he said, “You boys go back to your room and sit down and get to work, I want to talk to your teacher.” And so they left, and the Principal said, “Mrs. Meeks, in the future, when you bring children down, please do not stand behind them and laugh. Couldn’t you tell how hard it was for me to keep a straight face?” I said, “Yes, I saw it.” Well, we both had a good laugh and I went back to my class.


“Every time an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.”  African Proverb

The Elders are truly ‘human libraries’  with stories ripe for harvesting! I just got back from a community in Illinois and was captivated by the tiny stories I heard.

We have a unique opportunity to harvest the wisdom, the humor, and memories we hear every day. We are in relationship with elders who have journeyed almost a full century on this planet. Through their stories, we connect with one another while giving our resident storytellers the opportunity to reconnect with what was once taken for granted. We give them the opportunity to share their memories for generations to come. And, the tiny stories can be preserved forever in digital media and libraries.

Through the simple process of capturing these adventures, challenges, and wisdom acquired on their life journey –  we create a profoundly enriching experience for both the storyteller and the recorder.


To hear more tiny stories from Elder Storytellers around the United states go to the Tiny Stories Page, and get ready to smile, and be filled with the legacies of elderhood preserved here.

If you are interested in preserving your own tiny stories, or the stories of someone you love, please contact me, and I will be happy to help you save your library of tiny stories too!


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 health care 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.

Teach us how to care! People getting older is not a crisis, it’s a blessing

At both poles of human life – caring for one another is what we do and that is part of our humanity.” Ira Brock Hospice care Physician

My mother cared for both of our grandparents in our home when I was a little girl.  I cared for my children as they were born, and my husband when he had open heart surgery.  I cared for my mother when she was transitioning from this life to the next.

Two of my daughters work full time in caring types of jobs, they have teenage sons, and their mother-in-laws are in their 90’s,  living independently, but needing assistance. Their lives are filled with caring for their teenagers,  tending to the needs of their mother-in-laws, and providing care to others in their work.  Their experience is no different from millions of families in the United States.

  • There are 5 million Americans over age 85, which is our country’s fastest-growing demographic. In 2035 that number will be 11.5 million.
  • Four (4) million of us will turn 65 this year.
  • One hundred years ago, 3% of the population was age 65 or older.   Today more than 14% are over 65, and by 2030 the number will be 20%.
  • We have more senior citizens in America today than we’ve had at any time in our history!

Despite these daunting numbers, Ai-Jen Poo, a thought leader, and social activist, in her 2016 book, “Age of Dignity, preparing for the elder boom in a changing America, outlines a roadmap for the opportunity to   become a more caring Nation.

This is an opportunity to strengthen our intergenerational and caregiving relationships.

  • Care is something we do.
  • Care is something we want.
  • Care is something we can improve.
  • But more than anything Care is the solution to the personal and economic challenges we face in this country.
  • Care doesn’t just heal or comfort people individually;  it really is going to save us all!

What seems like an immense challenge is actually an incredible opportunity to transform the three million direct care caregiving jobs to good sustainable jobs for the 21st century –  to jobs that each person takes pride in with joy in service.

  • It is also the opportunity to make sure that our work and family care policies reflect the needs of families.
  • It is an opportunity to make sure that our loved ones that took care of us actually have the choices they deserve – to live with dignity, giving each person the opportunity to continue to teach us how to care.
  • We have the opportunity to create solutions that uplift the future of us all.

“People getting older is not a crisis.  It is a blessing”  Ai-Jen Poo says. Watch this short 3-minute video, and it may inspire you to get her book and learn more, as I did.


 


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 health care 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.