Be the fountain

You can be the fountain, or you can be the drain. This is what the keynote speaker said during the opening keynote of the 2016 Oregon Health Care Association conference. Someone else had said it to her and she used it in her presentation titled Get what you want with what you’ve got. Most of the talk was quips and ideas you’ve maybe heard before or may have in a slightly different fashion. This sentence struck me though. I hadn’t heard it before. It so simply creates an image, a visual, succinctly representing one thing–choice. You have a choice in everything you do–we all do. It doesn’t mean we won’t have bad days or annoyances or times we just want to scream. It just means we have the choice to let them flow through us and be repurposed into something beautiful or let it drag us (and those around us) down.

She went on to relay a story about how her son was attempting to get an autograph from a Harlem Globetrotter after a performance. He kept getting shoved to the back and, after realizing there was a player on the side, he went over to the gentleman that wasn’t as protected by the crowd. When the young boy asked how the player “was doing” the player smartly said, “better because you’re here”. She was struck by the glow on her son’s face. How special he felt because of that comment.

Senior Housing News recently published an article about “relational marketing vs. transactional marketing“. The idea is that instead of treating your marketing and sales efforts like a transaction (i.e. I provide X, you pay Y), senior living needs to treat marketing and sales like a relationship (i.e. we’re working together to get you the care and services you really need). I must admit, this is not a new concept to me. The senior living companies that I’ve been the marketer for have subscribed to this philosophy for years. I recognize, though, that its hard for some to transition out of the “sales” mentality. How do you do it?

I’m reminded of a Maya Angelou quote which I’m sure you’ve all heard: I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Fountains are possible because of a simple use of one of the most basic elements on Earth–and yet they can produce amazing joy and fun. Feeling special is possible because of a simple word said in the right way and a person with the where-with-all to choose that they are going to be the fountain.

I hope in your day to day, you can find a moment to ask–how can I make this person feel special today? That’s the “holy grail” in filling a community and making those “sales”–by filling it with love and commitment to the people (all people) that make up the community.

How do you make residents, families, and employees feel special? I invite you to comment and share what you’ve experienced.


About the Author: 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 eight years of learning the senior living industry in roles ranging from Administrative Assistant to Director of Sales and Marketing. 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.

Aging Gracefully with Yoga

Senior woman in meditation by ocean
Elder woman doing yoga on beach – aging gracefully, peacefully, and joyfully.

I came across this video of yoga instructor Tao Porchon-Lynch recently. She is not the typical teacher you might find in a yoga studio, however. She is in her late 90s and is more agile than most people half her age. I find her message of aging gracefully inspiring, and can only hope that some day you will find me at age 90 on my yoga mat.

Porchon-Lynch teaches about elderhood: that it is a time of learning, growth, and porchon-lynchvibrancy; inviting elder adults to grow spiritually, strengthen physically, and find the very best within themselves through a yoga practice accessible to anyone.

It is important to note that yoga is more than a physical practice. The word yoga itself is translated as “union.” It is the drawing together (or union) of heart, mind, and body that integrates all parts of ourselves into a unified whole. Just as a team performs best when all members are focused on a common goal, we become our best selves when every part of our being is in alignment with every other part.

The research available about yoga’s health benefits is vast, with more information and research data specifically about yoga and elders showing up almost daily.

Of particular interest is a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, linking yoga to the reduction of older adults’ risk of mild cognitive impairment—considered a precursor for developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Imagine that we can help reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s by practicing yoga!

Besides reducing risk of dementia:

  • people who practice yoga regularly have more energy, vitality, and better moods.
  • yoga also improves muscle strength and flexibility, preventing further breakdown of cartilage and joints and reducing arthritis pain.
  • the wonderful social connection with others is an added benefit when people attend group yoga classes.
  • people who practice yoga regularly have more energy, vitality, and better moods.
  • yoga improves stress resilience, boosts immunity and reduces instances of depression.
  • yoga improves balance and sharpens the mind.
  • medically, yoga can help control blood sugar in people with diabetes, enhances respiratory function, relieves arthritis pain and minimizes hypertension.

It is no wonder Tao Porchon-Lynch has achieved the honor of becoming the world’s oldest yoga teacher. Tao says because of her yoga practice she has never felt old. She shows us that through yoga she is aging gracefully, enjoying how good her yoga makes her feel. As a yoga practitioner in her late-nineties, it is safe to say that feeling good is powerful medicine.

taoporchonlynch_jamaica

 


Guest author Carrie Gallahan

Carrie Gallahan is the Director of Operations for Compass Senior Living, Midwest Region.  She is also a dementia practitioner and passionate elder advocate. carrie-sideplankCarrie  is a Registered Yoga Teacher and a Certified Chair Yoga Teacher. Carrie is the co-founder of Joyful Yoga, located in Peru, Indiana.   Joyful Yoga is an innovation partner with Compass Senior Living and has developed a signature chair-yoga program specifically for Compass Senior Living – True North Yoga.  Carrie has seen first hand what yoga can do for people of all ages and physical abilities. She loves to share the joy and wellness that yoga brings to lives.

happy elderly senior couple walking on beach healthcare recreation

I don’t want to move.

elder cowboy with grumpy face“You can start over when you’re your age, not at my age.” That’s what my mother-in-law said about moving closer to kids when getting older. “If you want to be closer when we’re old, you have to move here.” She’s not even that old, but there’s no point in arguing. When she and dad moved to their beautiful retirement town, in Florence, Oregon, they decided that was it—period.

Florence is on the Oregon coast, directly west of Eugene. The average age of people living in Florence is 59.4*; and the average age of the country is 37.2*.

Don’t let that average age fool you, though. This community is active in volunteerism, activism, and recreation. Sure, there are quilters and bingo players. But, you’ll also find authors, artists, dog agility trainers, yoga practitioners, and bus drivers who take cancer patients to Eugene to the hospital.

I have talked with people who have retired in Florence, and are getting pressure to move closer to children.

It makes sense to most adult children to move mom or dad closer to you. You’ve got your own kids you can’t uproot; you have a career and you can’t move or work remotely… and maybe you just like where you live. You may be concerned that by moving mom or dad closer to you, you may be uprooting them from:
• Daily support systems and friends
• Clubs, churches or spiritual connections
• Recreational activities, favorite restaurants, barbers, and shopping
• Neighborhood watch groups, and walking or jogging routes
• And, most importantly, the community that they have been connected to for years or perhaps decades.

Many adults are struggling with living far away from parents who are entering elderhood. There are needs that can’t be attended to unless you are right there, right? Well, yes, and no. You may find there is support right in mom and dad’s back yard!

What type of support is available in their hometown? Florence is a small retirement town, but is lacking in enough geriatricians and major medical treatment services. As a result, non-profits have popped up to serve the needs of the population such as the Friends of Florence.

Are senior housing options in their hometown? Visit (or ask your parents to visit) independent living, assisted living and memory care communities. Most people still think of grandma’s 1960 nursing home when they think of these communities. That’s just not the case anymore. Most are modern, comfortable and community-based environments where more elders are thriving simply because they are not alone at home.

Introduce your parents to technology. Use Facebook to stay connected and keep them connected to friends and family around the world. Get them a tablet or smartphone. Ask the senior living communities you are considering if they have wi-fi and if they regularly update their Facebook page on what’s happening. Ask them if they can text or email you with periodic updates.

Plan ahead. Create a plan together. Discuss things like who to call in an emergency. How about medical alert systems or other home emergency system? Who will check on them regularly? How will they ensure they eat well? How will they take care of home maintenance? The best plans are those made before something happens.

Talk finances. Find out where their income is. Low-income services such as Meals on Wheels may be able to help. The Veteran’s Aid and Attendance benefit may be available to veterans and surviving spouses.

At the very least, before they get old enough to need any help, it’s worth finding out where they want to live.

 

For more examples of True North Elderhood, we invite you to follow Compass Senior Living on Facebook.

* Statistics courtesy of city-data.com


Amira in MalaysiaAbout the Author: 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 eight years of learning the senior living industry in roles ranging from Administrative Assistant to Director of Sales and Marketing. 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.