Always stay humble and kind

I work in the Senior Housing Industry. As we deal with the everyday stressors of running our communities, an angry family member, an employee who doesn’t show up to work, a vendor that doesn’t provide a service in a timely manner, we can become reactive to the situation and often times defensive.  It’s taken me many years to learn how to deal with these issues and here’s how I do it:

  • I try to stop to think for a moment what that angry family member might be going through, why that employee didn’t show up to work, the reason that vendor is late and put myself in their shoes for just a split second.
  • Maybe I can be more understanding and not so reactive or defensive.
  • When I find myself reacting or getting defensive, I take a deep breath, excuse myself, and walk away for a moment.
  • Then I resolve to meet the situation head-on with a clear head and a kind heart.

It feels great to let go of anger, not hold a grudge, and move on with the belief that when I do the right things, good things will come to me and everyone else around me.

I have a favorite saying, which has become my mantra in life: “Always stay humble and kind.”  When dealing with situations that are not ideal, I remember these words, and only then am I in control of my actions.

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 5.04.23 AMUnderstanding others, not taking things personally, and living up to my personal expectations of myself of staying humble and kind has been a personal growth intention. Life is an evolution of our spirits as we seek to be the very best version of ourselves – climbing  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs   pyramid to someday becoming self-actualized.

This  is a personal journey and a quest for all of us.

How will you reach self-actualization?



About the author:   Candis Willis, Director of Operations – Western Region Compass Senior Living

img_0434Candis lives in Redding, California. She says, “The  best part of this work is connecting with residents and seeing them flourish when they thought life would be over because of leaving their homes.”   Candis loves having the opportunity each day to give back to elders a portion of what they have given to many others.    Candis believes everything happens for a reason, and even though life isn’t always easy, we have the opportunity to learn and grow from each and every experience. Playing with her grandchildren, enjoying the outdoors, yard work, and hiking are her favorite pastimes with her family.


What does your Crescendo look like?

Life is a series of events that, when put together, write your story. The next chapter is up to you. Always strive to write it better than the one before. . .your Crescendo.

My story

I have moved through my life, guided by the silent anticipation and stereotype of what each stage of my life should look like. I became focused on seeking certain expectations, or landmarks so to speak, that I thought I needed to achieve during each decade as I aged with the vision of my future during my teens hitting its pinnacle when I hit middle-age. And then, all of a sudden I found myself sitting at that pinnacle. That age where I realized that I am now on the cusp of a stage in my life that seemed so far away – elderhood.  While the story I have written so far is good, it is not really what I envisioned and it sure isn’t over.

I have started to think about what aging looks like and how I will wear it as I move closer to that reality. Will I have blue-gray hair? Will I use a walker? Will I have to give up my drivers license? Will I shuffle when I walk? Will I view it as a time of life where I sit in a rocking chair waiting for the inevitable? Will it be considered a time when living becomes viewed as ‘going through the motions’ just to get through a day?

As I enter my sixth decade of life I am one of 108.7 million folks age 50-plus.

  • This includes 76.4 million boomers (born 1946-64), compared with 49 million Gen Xers and 82 million millennials.
  • Moreover, people 50-plus will continue to grow over the next decade to the tune of 19 million vs. a growth of only 6 million for the 18-49 population.

My life is a book, with chapters created from every milestone, moment, or mundane/routine/ordinary day I have lived so far. Some chapters are thicker, happier, or more exciting than others, but these scripts are what build the story of my life.

Age loudly!  Age intensely!

Crescendo…used as a verb, it means to increase in loudness or intensity. I associate this word with music, mystery novels, movies, dramatic tv shows, and the list goes on. But I have never thought to use that word to define my life…until now.

We are supposed to get better, smarter, more vibrant, wiser with age, not simply exist to mark time. There are a lot of people out there just like me wanting to change the face of aging, to change our perception of what our elderhood will look like.

So grab that pen, write that next chapter, and create your crescendo. I know I am.

Age loudly. Live intensely.

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 1.01.04 PMAbout the author: Tina Woodcock is the Graphic Designer at Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Tina creates all of the print advertising for 21 Compass Senior Living communities in 7 different states. She takes great pride in sharing the goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun of all of our communities.

The Ageist – insults our own future selves

“Ageism” was coined in 1969, two years after the Federal Discrimination in Employment Act set the age of forty as the lower bound at which workers could complain of it.

Blatant evidence  of ageism includes addressing older people in “elderspeak”—high, loud tones and a simplified vocabulary—and using nouns like “coot” and “geezer”  and “sweetie” or adjectives like “decrepit”  or “cute old lady.” The ageist person can’t grasp that most older people don’t feel so different from their youthful selves.

Zuckerberg once observed, “Young people are just smarter,” and the venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has said that “people over forty-five basically die in terms of new ideas.”  These are “Ageist Stereotypes.”

  • Those over age 40 continue to rise: the average lifespan grew more in the twentieth century than in all previous history.
  • By 2020 (only 2 years away), for the first time, there will be more people on Earth over the age of sixty-five than under the age of five.

Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging reports, “Those holding more negative age stereotypes earlier in life had significantly more accumulation of tangles and amyloid plaques.”  Negative and ageist thinking about aging – can predict our OWN aging!

  • So, if we think of aging as a negative decline – that thought-process evolves and we become the manifestation of negative ageist stereotypes we feared. Studies indicate that thinking of aging positively will contribute to our own positive aging.
  • Like the racist and the sexist, the ageist rejects an “Other” based on a perceived difference.

But ageism is singular because it’s directed at a group that at one point wasn’t the “Other”—and at a group that the ageist will one day, if all goes well, join. The ageist thus insults his own future self.

Ashton Applewhite, who wrote “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism”  made the point that older people may not be qualitatively different from “youngers.” She notes the following:

  • only ten percent of Americans who are at least eighty-five live in nursing homes
  • and that half of those over eighty-five don’t have caregivers; for the most part – they are cognitively robust, sexually active, and enjoy better mental health than the young or middle-aged.
Attitude about Aging can impact your own aging experience.

I want you to feel great about aging!

The path to that bliss is obscure, though, because all of us think we are aging wrong. We not only have a culture promoting the stereotypes of decline, but also the opposite –  “positive aging.”  or “anti-aging.’   Comparing your state of mind to the birth date on your driver’s license gives the number more power than it deserves.

My way out of the aging pickle is looking for more examples in the media,  in the neighborhood, in my church, in my research – many more.  I am looking for examples of older people living ordinary lives, neither drooling nor dazzling.  You and I can be role models and examples as we embrace elderhood as the crescendo of a lifetime!

In most ancient and remote societies, the few people who lived to old age were esteemed as teachers and custodians of culture. This is a comforting idea – if ageism is a by-product of the modern world, it should be relatively easy to reverse.  Don’t you think we can do it?  Can we all advocate for our own future selves?

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”  – Betty Friedan

Ashton Applewhite, creator of the blog Yo, Is This Ageist? , says the size of the boomer generation should be an advantage when shifting the discourse around aging.

Watch Applewhite’s funny, insightful, and poignant 11 minute Ted Talk about ageism here.  It is 11 minutes well spent as we are all – if we are lucky – going to age.

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

About the author: Jean Garboden 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 in Eugene, Oregon. 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

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If you can learn, you can do anything.

If you can learn, you can do anything. I’m not sure if I heard this somewhere or if I thought of it myself. It doesn’t matter. The message is true: if you can learn, you can do anything. The internet has changed society and the world—we are a global community. Like it or not, we are part of a blended and mobile universe that is interwoven and interconnected. I recently was privileged enough to hear Deepak Chopra speak in person. I was about ten rows from the front and captivated the entire time. He shared with us how we are made of the exact same things as 90%+ of the universe and how it can have awellness impact on our own health. The exact samesubstances, cells, and molecules as, not just plants, animals, and people on Earth, but stars, cosmos, and the fire of the sun.

We are all connected. The birth of the internet made that even more apparent as now we can talk to people across the globe that we never even knew existed until that moment. Its amazing. It inspires curiosity and wonder—just like the thought of being made of molecules that have come from outer space. And yet, I hear over and over “I’m too old for that” or “If you need to learn how to use a smartphone, find a toddler” or “how come these things don’t come with a user manual?” The answer: because if you can learn, you can figure it out. And, you are NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN (unless you want to be and then, by all means, sit on your couch).

Gary Vaynerchuk says “wake up” to the world that is around you. I appreciate his candor because he is capturing the essence of the argument as to why people over the age of 30 (basically) say “oh, I could never do that” and throwing it into oncoming traffic. REALLY?! Can you learn? How do you want to spend the next 40 years of your life?

GaryVee explains it all: (warning: some foul language is used)


Amira on a trip to Chicago.

About the Author: Amira T. Fahoum is the Director of Operations, NW 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 eight years of learning the senior living industry in roles ranging from Administrative Assistant to Director of Sales and Marketing to unofficial IT coordinator. Possibilities also led her into the world of education technology for almost three years. Now, on her journey with Compass, she has found true reward in working with the people that care for others. She lives in Eugene with her husband, Michael, where they enjoy golf, travel, and volunteering.

Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777

The Flag Resolution of 1777

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution which stated:

“Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Inspired by three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916.

While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

It was actually in 1885 in  Wisconsin where the tradition of celebrating ‘Flag Day’ or ‘Flag Birthday’ began.

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America’s birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885.

BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as ‘Flag Birthday‘.

In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.


Many thanks to our Founding Fathers who had the vision and the insight to design and give birth to the United States Flag.

Happy Birthday, Stars and Stripes!

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 8.21.54 AM

photo credits:    The Birth of Old Glory Percy Moran, 1917

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

About the author: Jean Garboden 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 in Eugene, Oregon. 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 magic of trusting relationships

I have been in Senior Housing since the late ninety’s.    I have seen the evolution of the services, the regulatory standards, and the employees.

Today senior living companies are focusing even more on the people who work with them.  Demand for talented, dedicated employees keeps growing.  We are in an environment where new jobs are being created and unemployment rates are dropping.

We, like other senior housing companies, are stepping up to improve and communicate with our teams.  It is not just about the wages or the benefits, but also about the culture, growth opportunities, and inspiring trust in leadership.

We believe that trusting relationships are the most basic of human needs and the strongest foundation for caring for one another. Our decisions are guided by goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun—our True North.

 Trust is the Magic Sparkle that can change your culture!

There are many things that we can do to establish trust:

  • Being open and honest about changes that will impact them;
  • Effectively communicating by talking to them, not at them;
  • Having an open-door policy, and then following up, and being willing to pitch in to help.
  • Sometimes the smallest gesture of kindness goes a long way.

Here are some specific Magic Trust tips I have learned over the years.  These tips have worked like magic to establish trust with those I have been honored to serve – and helped me evolve and grow into a better person too.

  • Magic tip # 1: Offer Your Own Trust First. As Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” If you want your employees to trust you, try trusting them first. Give them a task, even an easy one, and let them complete it on their own. This simple gesture will go a very long way. If your employees believe you will have their back, they will run through walls for you.
  • Magic tip # 2: Don’t Have All Of The Answers, Even If You Do.    Who do you trust? Typically, it’s someone who allows you to be you and who encourages you to continuously grow, learn — usually by making mistakes — and develop. So be inquisitive and ask lots and lots of questions rather than supplying answers, even — especially — when you know the answer.
  • Magic tip # 3: Show Them You Aren’t Afraid Of Failure.  Any mistake or struggle in performance will make the leader look bad, so every employee is seen as a threat. This drives selfish, bad behavior and creates an unsafe place for the team. Trust only happens in a fear-free environment. Every leader needs to work on their own fear issues so they can focus on building the team instead of their ego.
  • Magic tip # 4: Listen Effectively. Leaders establish trust by asking effective questions, then by actually listening to employees’ answers. Following up with action in a manner that supports employees’ ideas and concerns reinforces that you listened.
  • Magic tip # 5: Be Respectful. The simplest path to increased trust is respect. It’s respectful recognition of accomplishments and transparency around failure. It’s a connection between leaders and teams. It doesn’t cost anything — but each side needs to make time for it. Practicing daily respect habits like “listen and care, make eye contact, and acknowledge your flaws” will drive engagement, and ultimately performance.
  • Magic tip # 6: Lead With Integrity and empathy. You can demonstrate you are trustworthy as a leader by keeping your word with your employees.  Say what you’ll do, and then do what you say. Show them you are leading in alignment with the values of goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun.  Genuinely care about your employees. Give trust and ask for their trust in return. Be trustworthy and honorable, and communicate that you expect the same.

When people honor each other, there is a trust established that leads to synergy, interdependence, and deep respect. Both parties make decisions and choices based on what is right, what is best, what is valued most highly.

We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.

The magic of TRUST

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’   And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit.  This is what creates trust.

Try even one or two of these  Magic Tips.  Just a bit here and there, and you may be amazed at the miraculous transformation and evolution of not only your team…but of yourself too!

Jean Garboden, Director of Education  

About the author: Jean Garboden 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 in Eugene, Oregon 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

How do we stay ‘true to ourselves’ as Leaders? Fred Rogers gives us insight

Many of us wake up each morning and jump into our  ‘work role.’  We think, “How can I be the best Leader today? ” Then, we try to fit what we think that label means.

  • We hide our quirks.
  • We undo our uniqueness.
  • We aim to fit in.
  • We try to look, talk, and act perfectly.

But what if there was another way? What if we could radically embrace who we truly are  — the whole and capable, vulnerable, and ‘real’ person we’ve been since our childhood?

Fred Rogers, one of the biggest proponents of this message, asked us to do just that.

If you grew up watching Mister Rogers, you might still be able to picture him: walking in the door. Singing a little song. Asking, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

When his show debuted in the ’60s, the program and, well, Mister Rogers himself didn’t fit the mold of successful TV. He was an older, kind man, chatting with his neighborhood pals, putting on a sweater or tying up his shoes, and, yes, sometimes having a heart-to-heart with a puppet.

He did his own thing—and that was the whole mission and message of his show: You can be liked and loved, just as you are. For the way you look, the way you talk, the way you love, and everything in between.

“You’ve made this day a special day, just by being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you—just the way you are.”
– Mister Rogers

Now, more than ever, Mister Rogers’ mission is easier said (or, in his style, sung) than done.

How do we love ourselves fully when we’re constantly bombarded with ideas on how we should look, talk, work, and lead?   How can we radically be ourselves?

The new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (in theaters on Friday, June 8), goes deep into the vision of Fred Rogers—and it offers insight into how he stayed true to himself.

Here, a few tips straight from the most authentic man on TV:

  • You are unique – embrace your quirks!   Think about what makes you different from other leaders or co-workers. Your difference is your hidden strength.
  • Be REAL. Be vulnerable. I used to worry about sounding too earnest, too vulnerable, or too honest in the things I wrote and shared. I’d think, “Who really wants to listen to this, anyway?”   But, surprisingly, I’ve learned that whenever I share the things that feel honest and true to me, the more positively people react. Vulnerability attracts vulnerability.  If you start to care less about what other people think, you’ll find that the people you care about will stick around for the long term.
  • Don’t strive for perfection – but for authenticity. You can choose to be perfect. Or, you can choose to be authentic. It’s very hard to be both. As he famously said: “You don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you.” All you have to do is be yourself.
  • Relationships with our teams and co-workers are important.  Fred Rogers said, “Mutually caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.”
  • A little kindness can make a difference.  Do you lead with kindness and empathy?  Those are not weak approaches to leadership.  In our world today, we need a little more kindness and love in the workplace.  In the Senior Housing industry, our care teams and our families and residents need to know they are safe and cared for.  These are courageous and powerful leadership characteristics.
  • Be Yourself. Be Good.  Do Good.

“There are three ways to ultimate success. The first is to be kind.  The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.”
– Mister Rogers

Mr. Rogers challenges us to continually evolve to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be – our true authentic selves.

Below is a 2.5-minute trailer for the documentary that will come out in the United States on Friday, June 8th.  I am looking for a theater near me today.   I am grateful for the lessons and the life of Mr. Fred Rogers.


About the author: Jean Garboden 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 in Eugene, Oregon. 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.

Courageous Leaders Care (good leaders make you feel safe)

“Leaders are the ones who run headfirst into the unknown. They rush toward the danger. They put their own interests aside to protect us or to pull us into the future. Leaders would sooner sacrifice what is theirs to save what is ours. And they would never sacrifice what is ours to save what is theirs.

This is what it means to be a leader.

It means they choose to go first into danger, headfirst toward the unknown. And when we feel sure they will keep us safe, we will march beside them and work tirelessly to see their visions come to life and proudly call ourselves their followers.”  Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last

In the Senior Housing industry, I have had the honor to work with several exceptional leaders who inspire the greatest respect, the highest loyalty and have the ability to weather any storm or challenge with calm and grace. To these leaders, it is clear: when it matters most, and they are willing to ‘eat last,’ they are rewarded with deeply loyal employees, residents, and family members who will stop at nothing to advance their vision and their organization’s interests.  It is amazing how this works.  This is the reason they are willing to push hard and take risks as brave, courageous leaders.

The Circle of Safety that these courageous leaders create is rooted in trust. Simon Sinek explains: ”Only when we feel we are in a Circle of Safety will we pull together as a unified team, better able to survive and thrive regardless of the conditions outside.”

Over the past 15 years, I have witnessed Senior Housing Leaders who have been faced with difficult challenges with employees, families, operational failures, census, fiscal viability, and more.  I have seen two types of leaders emerge from difficult situations.

  • The first type took all of the responsibility upon themselves, and as the leader set out to ‘fix’ things and to assure consequences if things were not fixed. They blamed the lack of good workers, the poor work ethic, the state regulators, and the complexity of long-term care. As time went on –  frustration, fear, burnout, and ultimate failure.  Good people.  Good intentions.  But no leader can do this alone. We need one another.
  • The second type has a humble spirit, deep empathy and respect for employees;  recognizing that courage is a prerequisite for truly great leadership. At the heart of it lays a willingness to trust and be trusted; to take action amid the uncertainty; to do what is right and proper and good over what is expedient, and to risk failure in the process. Unless leaders are willing to lay their psychological safety (i.e. pride and power) on the line for the sake of those they serve, no amount of brilliance or showmanship will suffice.

Simon Sinek says ‘Good Leaders make you feel safe.” 

When we are ‘just working because we have to work’ and feel like things are falling apart – we need strong leaders to show true courage.

  • The kind of courage that discerns real from imaginary drama,
  • The kind that inspires people to rally together toward a noble cause, and acknowledge what’s not working.
  • The kind that doesn’t rely on fear to motivate action.
  • The kind that emboldens fresh thinking and draws on the full breadth of talent and know-how of the team.

Below are the characteristics I have been honored to witness in courageous Senior Housing Leaders:

  • Courageous leaders personal characteristics of humility and capacity for great empathy.  Great leaders focus on the good of those in their care, which leads to stable, flexible, confident teams, where everyone feels they belong, and all energies are devoted to supporting one another.
  • Courageous leaders are bold visionaries.  While they may have to manage in the realm of probabilities – they lead from the space of possibilities.
  • Courageous Leaders seek out Dissenters.  They don’t surround themselves with ‘yes men’ (or women) who will confirm their thinking and stroke their ego.  Rather they seek out people whose opinions and mindsets will challenge and broaden their own. They actively listen and create the psychological safety needed for those with less power to disagree with them and speak candidly.
  • Courageous Leaders don’t shy from difficult conversations.  They are fully aware that the conversations that DON’T occur are those which can exact the steepest toll on outcomes.
  • Courageous leaders make bold calls.  They know that waiting until they have absolute certainty that they can avoid all risks can sometimes require waiting too long.  They do their homework, do investigations, and then make the best judgment call they can.  AND when they make a ‘miss-step,’ they own it fast and adjust course quickly.
  • Courageous leaders entrust others. As research has found, people generally rise to the level of expectation placed on them.  Treat them as untrustworthy and needing constant oversight and that’s what you’ll get.  Treat them as capable people with the ability to learn and excel, and that’s what you’ll also get.   Expect a lot, and you’ll get it.  Expect little and you will get that too.
  • Courageous leaders embolden others. When leaders focus on the consequences of failure, it creates fear.   Brave leaders actively work to create a culture of courage where people are encouraged to speak up, challenge old thinking, experiment with new ideas, risk mistakes, prioritize growth and contribution.   And then…when things don’t go as planned…they celebrate the shared learning so the team can ‘fail forward’ together.

I believe that everyone has the ability to be a courageous leader.  There is no shortcut to building the courage needed to be an inspiring and influential leader.   I witnessed the leaders I worked with grow into courageous leaders bit-by-bit, starting with the next decision they had to face as they rallied their teams around them.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see the growth and power of each of them – guided clearly by goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun.

If you have 15 minutes to watch a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek entitled “Why Good Leaders make you feel safe”, below is the link.



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

About the author: Jean Garboden 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 in Eugene, Oregon. 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





MEMORIAL DAY 2018 – Honoring our fallen Heroes

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy


The wearing of poppies in honor of America’s war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day. The origin of the red poppy as a modern-day symbol of this day was actually the idea of an American woman, Miss Moina Michael.

In war-torn battlefields, the red field poppy was one of the first plants to grow. It’s seeds scattered in the wind and sat dormant in the ground, only germinating when the ground is disturbed—as it was by the very brutal fighting during World War 1.

Today, poppies are both the symbol of the loss of life and a symbol of recovery and new life, especially in support of those servicemen who were damaged physically or emotionally.


The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition.

In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics.

After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation.

After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.

When I was a little girl this was called “Decoration Day” by my grandparents.    By late summer our roses and hollyhocks were blooming.  The community got together and picked flowers from their yards and along the roadside, and we went to the graveyards to clean them up and put fresh flowers to honor our ancestors.  Afterwards, we would gather for a picnic or a potluck and celebrate the legacy of those gone by telling stories, and singing songs.

In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress; it is now celebrated on the last Monday in May.  Memorial Day remains one of America’s most cherished patriotic observances. The spirit of this day has not changed – it remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy.

May we never forget freedom isn’t free.

USA Memorial Day concept.
USA Memorial Day with dog tags and red remembrance poppy on American stars and stripes

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

About the author:Jean Garboden 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 in Eugene, Oregon. 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


Not invisible any more – a courageous journey to change the world!

We sometimes speak as if caring did not require knowledge –  as if caring for someone is simply a matter of good intentions or warm regard. But to care, I must understand the other’s needs and must be able to respond properly to them – and clearly good intentions do not guarantee this. To care for someone, I must know many things.”

Milton Mayeroff

Yes – to care for someone, I must know many things!

I have the privilege of teaching our care teams in our Independent, Assisted Living, and Memory Care communities in the United States about how to embark on a courageous journey to change the world by embracing and evoking their power as educated caregivers.

Let’s make the invisibility of care visible as we gain specialized knowledge about human development.

Invisibility of Care 

The deep assumption about caring is that it is something anyone can do, but we do not take care of human beings the same way we take care of a house or a lawn!  We must know many things.

The way we touch others increases or diminishes their self-worth.

  • The sensations of the body are the pathways to intellect and emotions. Caring routines involve engagement around bodily functions (elimination, cleaning, eating, sleeping) and therefore they hold the most intimate importance.
  • In the past, caring tasks may have been viewed as custodial. In the emerging future, care is viewed as an honorable practice that requires specialized knowledge about human development.
  • When we see the other as competent and capable, we practice caring as a conversation — a reciprocal exchange.  We find ourselves doing things “with” others instead of doing them “to” others.  We engage in relationship-planning rather than care-planning.
  • We view care as a practice that nurtures another’s development, actualization, and self-sufficiency. This is the opposite of caring in a way that creates helplessness, frustration, dependency, or entanglement.
  • Caring is associated with strength and power — not passivity or weakness. The other feels his or her wholeness in our caring response.

Caring and being cared for can give meaning to our lives

I believe that caring plays a much bigger role in our lives than you might think. The experience of caring can ‘shape us’, and help create order and stability in our own lives.

  • Knowing – “I must understand the other’s needs and be able to respond properly’” and “I must know what my own powers and limitations are”.
  • Alternating rhythms – Moving back and forth between a narrower and a wider framework- at times focusing on the detail, at others on the wider picture; sometimes doing, sometimes doing nothing; always watching and seeking feedback on those actions/inactions.
  • Patience – “I must enable the other to grow in their own time and in their own way –  giving the other room to live.”
  • Honesty – This means being open to oneself and to others – seeing others as they really are and seeing myself as I really am.
  • Trust –  Trusting the other is to let go; it includes an element of risk and a leap into the unknown, both of which take courage.
  • Humility – There is always something more to learn. Through caring, I come to a truer appreciation of my limitations as well as my powers.
  • Hope – Through caring, the carer instills hope into the relationship.
  • Courage – a carer needs courage because, as with any relationship, this is largely a journey into the unknown.

Caring is what makes us human.  By educating ourselves and claiming the power we have to grow and impact others – we each have an opportunity to evolve into powerful change agents to be part of a movement creating a caring world.  Let’s take this courageous journey as super-caregivers!

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

About the Author: Jean Garboden 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 in Eugene, Oregon. 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