World Elder Abuse Recognition Day

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” ― Tia Walker

UPDATED: October 20, 2017

The New York Times recently ran this article on How the Elderly Lose Their Rights.  Cases in Nevada were uncovered regarding systemic elder financial abuse that allowed the court to appoint a guardian even though the elder was not cognitively incapacitated and they had family that could care for them. This article points out that, now more than ever, elder rights are worth fighting for–we are all elders-in-waiting and someday, we’ll need someone looking out for us too. Help educate others in what they, too, should look out for and how to spot and combat elder abuse.

 

Watch the short video below, and share this with others.  Caring about one another is what makes us human!

The taboo topic of elder abuse has started to gain visibility across the world.  It remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national and international action plans.

The 2017 World Elder Abuse Recognition Day (WEAAD) theme will explore effective means of strengthening protections against financial and material exploitation and ending victimization around the world. Exploitation takes many forms.

  • In developed countries, the abuse often encompasses theft, forgery, misuse of property and power of attorney, as well as denying access to funds.
  • The overwhelming majority of financial exploitation in less developed countries includes accusations of witchcraft that are used to justify property grabbing, ejection from homes of and denial of family inheritance to widows.

Elder abuse is a ‘silent condition.’  Although there are many statistics stated, no one knows exactly how many of our nation’s elders are being exploited, neglected or abused.  Evidence suggests that much abuse is not reported because often the elder does not report or because the general public is not educated about the signs of elder abuse.

  • About 90 percent of perpetrators of elder abuse are family members, including spouses, adult children, partners and other relatives. The incidence of abuse is higher if the family member suffers from drug or alcohol abuse, have some type of mental illness, or feel burdened by the care of their loved ones.
  • Only about one out of every 14 incidents of elder abuse (including self-neglect) in domestic settings actually come to the attention of local or state authorities.
  • Significant financial exploitation occurs at a rate of about 41 out of every 1,000 individuals surveyed in the US. This was higher than the rates of neglect as well as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
  • Only one out of every 25 cases of financial exploitation are reported. These unreported incidents would increase the amount to 5 million victims of financial exploitation per year in the United States.

It is our responsibility to protect the precious lives of vulnerable elder adults in our communities.  If the elder lives in Senior Housing, those working there are mandated to report to the state authorities, and/or the police.

Abuse comes in many forms:

  • Physical: causing physical pain or injury
  • Emotional: verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, and intimidation
  • Neglect: failure to provide necessities, including food, clothing, shelter, medical care or a safe environment
  • Confinement: restraining or isolating the person
  • Financial: the misuse or withholding of the person’s financial resources (money, property) to his or her disadvantage or the advantage of someone else
  • Sexual abuse: touching, fondling or any sexual activity when the person is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened or physically forced
  • Willful deprivation: willfully denying the person medication, medical care, food, shelter or physical assistance, and thereby exposing the individual with Alzheimer’s to the risk of physical, mental or emotional harm
  • Self-neglect: Due to lack of insight and cognitive changes, a person with cognitive challenges may be unable to safely and adequately provide for day-to-day needs, and may be at risk for harm, falls, wandering and/or malnutrition.

Let us take care of the children,
for they have a long way to go.

Let us take care of the elders,
for they have come a long way.

Let us take care of the in-between,
for they are doing the work.

—African Prayer


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.

World Elder Abuse Recognition Day 6/15/2017

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” ― Tia Walker

Watch the short video below, and share this with others.  Caring about one another is what makes us human!

The taboo topic of elder abuse has started to gain visibility across the world.  It remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national and international action plans.

The 2017 World Elder Abuse Recognition Day (WEAAD) theme will explore effective means of strengthening protections against financial and material exploitation and ending victimization around the world. Exploitation takes many forms.

  • In developed countries, the abuse often encompasses theft, forgery, misuse of property and power of attorney, as well as denying access to funds.
  • The overwhelming majority of financial exploitation in less developed countries includes accusations of witchcraft that are used to justify property grabbing, ejection from homes of and denial of family inheritance to widows.

Elder abuse is a ‘silent condition.’  Although there are many statistics stated, no one knows exactly how many of our nation’s elders are being exploited, neglected or abused.  Evidence suggests that much abuse is not reported because often the elder does not report or because the general public is not educated about the signs of elder abuse.

  • About 90 percent of perpetrators of elder abuse are family members, including spouses, adult children, partners and other relatives. The incidence of abuse is higher if the family member suffers from drug or alcohol abuse, have some type of mental illness, or feel burdened by the care of their loved ones.
  • Only about one out of every 14 incidents of elder abuse (including self-neglect) in domestic settings actually come to the attention of local or state authorities.
  • Significant financial exploitation occurs at a rate of about 41 out of every 1,000 individuals surveyed in the US. This was higher than the rates of neglect as well as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
  • Only one out of every 25 cases of financial exploitation are reported. These unreported incidents would increase the amount to 5 million victims of financial exploitation per year in the United States.

It is our responsibility to protect the precious lives of vulnerable elder adults in our communities.  If the elder lives in Senior Housing, those working there are mandated to report to the state authorities, and/or the police.

Abuse comes in many forms:

  • Physical: causing physical pain or injury
  • Emotional: verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, and intimidation
  • Neglect: failure to provide necessities, including food, clothing, shelter, medical care or a safe environment
  • Confinement: restraining or isolating the person
  • Financial: the misuse or withholding of the person’s financial resources (money, property) to his or her disadvantage or the advantage of someone else
  • Sexual abuse: touching, fondling or any sexual activity when the person is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened or physically forced
  • Willful deprivation: willfully denying the person medication, medical care, food, shelter or physical assistance, and thereby exposing the individual with Alzheimer’s to the risk of physical, mental or emotional harm
  • Self-neglect: Due to lack of insight and cognitive changes, a person with cognitive challenges may be unable to safely and adequately provide for day-to-day needs, and may be at risk for harm, falls, wandering and/or malnutrition.

Let us take care of the children,
for they have a long way to go.

Let us take care of the elders,
for they have come a long way.

Let us take care of the in-between,
for they are doing the work.

—African Prayer


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.

Thanks Dad – my Elder Guide! (Father’s day June 18)

My father, Samuel Russell Harris,  died when I was 27 years old.  Even today I still miss him. He was an eternal optimist! We didn’t have much as a child, but my Dad always encouraged us to turn tough times into an adventure of learning and joy in even the smallest of trials.

I remember when we were getting close to payday and were deciding about what to prepare from our meager cupboards, he joked, “Let’s pick some dandelions, and have them for dinner, and then we can tell the story someday about how we survived on dandelion greens!”   Little did he know that today we would be buying dandelions at Whole Foods as a nutritious green food!

My dad was an advocate of the power of positive thinking.  When I was a little girl he began reading to me from Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, first published in 1952, and also read to me from Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence people, written in 1936, and other writers of the era such as Napoleon Hill, Thoreau, and Hemingway.  Dad wrote poetry and kept a daily journal.  He told me,  growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, that no matter what society dictated as limitations, I could do good and make a difference in the world if my heart so desired.

My dad only had an 8th-grade education.  He had a traumatic brain injury at age 15 when hit by a car and in a coma for 4 months.  Despite his hard start in life, my dad was one of the smartest men I have ever known. When asked what he did for a living Dad laughed and responded, “I am a  jack of all trades.

To me, Dad was my elder-guide.  He was self-educated, a poet, a philosopher, a dreamer, and an adventurer.  I am grateful that, as my elder-guide, he prepared me to approach life’s ups and downs with hope and inspiration. I am honored to be his daughter carrying his spirit of curiosity, optimism, and adventure on my life journey too.

I recognize that a father is not always defined by their genetic association with a child.  I respect and appreciate others who have stepped up to be  role models,  elder guides, and an inspiration for so many.

You may have an elder guide in your life, either male or female who has inspired you to be the best you can be!  Your elder guides shape who you are and encourage you to be greater than you thought you could be. Elderhood is so powerful with wisdom and guidance for us all.

Around the world, people are celebrating their fathers and father role models.   I found that more than 30 countries in the world are celebrating Father’s day On June 18th.  In Catholic Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day) since the Middle Ages. The Spanish and Portuguese brought this celebration to Latin America, where March 19 is often still the date,  though many countries in Europe and the Americas have adopted the U.S. date.

Below, see the dates in other countries in the world when fathers are honored!

  • Third Sunday in June: United States, Argentina, Aruba[,Canada, China, Costa Rica, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Venezuela.
  • February 23: Russia
  • March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day) – Croatia, Italy. Portugal, Spain,
  • May: 2nd Sunday – Romania
  • May 1: Israel
  • May 8: Korea
  • June 1st Sunday: Lithuania
  • June 2nd Sunday: Austria, Belgium
  • June 5 Denmark
  • June 23: Poland
  • June Last Sunday: Haiti
  • August 2: Brazil
  • August 8: Mongolia, Taiwan
  • September 1st Sunday: Australia
  • September 2nd Sunday: Latvia
  • November 1st Sunday – New Zealand
  • November 2nd : Sunday. Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway
  • November 12: Indonesia
  • November 2nd: Sunday. Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway
  • December 5: Thailand
  • 40th Day after Easter (Ascension day): Germany

“I always joke that my kids’ favorite holiday is Father’s Day. They love the way I celebrate the occasion by writing each of them a thank-you letter and a check. It’s my way of letting them know how much I appreciate the great pleasure and privilege of being their dad.” Wayne Dyer


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.

Rhinestone Cowboy released last-ever album “Adiós” – recorded after diagnosis of Alzheimers – Hear the song here!

On Friday, the legendary singer-songwriter Glen Campbell bid a final farewell to his fans by releasing his last-ever album. Titled Adiós, it was recorded in 2012, when the “Rhinestone Cowboy” formally ended his music career after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease the year before.


Glen Campbell has been open about his experience with Alzheimer’s. In 2012, he embarked on a yearlong farewell tour, which was captured in the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. The film, available on Amazon, also documented some of the singer’s offstage struggles as the disease progressed. Produced by his friend and longtime banjo player Carl Jackson, he says his friend’s attitude towards his ailment was extraordinary.

“Glen’s whole approach to having Alzheimer’s was pretty much different from anything I’ve ever seen before,” Jackson says.  “If he forgot something, he would laugh about it, rather than get sad. And we just went about recording the album that way, as a fun thing to do, and it was a total joy.”

Campbell, who is in the last stages of Alzheimer’s, is no longer able to communicate well, and so no one will know exactly what he thinks of his last-ever album. But, according to Jackson, he seems to approve.

“I just know in my heart that it means the world to him … because of the peace that comes over him when he hears the music,” Jackson says. “It just means the world to me that we can do this for him and have him go out on something I believe just reaffirmed that Glen Campbell’s the best — period.”


 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.

 

Everyone is a former baby with a distinctive birthright

Trusting relationships are the most basic of human needs and the strongest foundation for caring for one another. Despite that belief, it’s easy to get caught up in a one-woman hamster wheel of working, consuming media, and just being busy with the many tasks on my to-do list.

  • I teach our care teams about the power of human connection through eye contact, touch, music, and conversation.
  • I teach them that each person has a unique worth from birth through the end of life, as fully capable human beings.
  • I teach our leaders about the power of creating a culture of caring in a person-centered workplace in their responsibility to care for their care teams and families while becoming well-known to one another.

Yet, I acknowledge that I sometimes take human connection for granted; I forget its value and forget to nurture it.

I was reminded again of the power of human connection this week when I was at Desert Peaks Assisted Living in Las Cruces New Mexico, teaching Adriana, a new Life Enrichment Coordinator about the power of human connection in the  ‘Circle of Friends‘.  As Adrianna began to invite elders who are living with cognitive challenges to our circle on the patio outside in the beautiful New Mexico sunshine, one was falling asleep, another in a grouchy mood, another who didn’t talk much, and a fourth person who was confused, but engaged and eager to connect.

As we sat close to one another in the circle we sang  “You are my sunshine” making direct eye contact with each person, and we saw the energy began to increase.  After singing several rounds of the song we welcomed each person, saying their name as we made eye contact and a handshake. “Good Morning Albert, thank you for coming today.”  Then we began discussing the beautiful day, and some of the elders began to talk.  We talked about family and times spent outside.  I said, “I love New Mexico, it is called the land of….” three of them responded quickly, “Enchantment!”   “Right”, I said, “New Mexico is indeed the land of Enchantment.”

Suzy had her eyes closed but began to smile.  We switched up the energy a bit, as we talked about playing together outside, and played balloon volleyball.  After about three minutes, Suzy’s eyes popped open, and with a big smile on her face, she joined the fun!  As the balloon bounced off some of our heads or went flying into the bushes, we all laughed.  The balloon landed on a sharp thorn and made a loud pop!  We all laughed even harder. One of the care team came outside and asked, “What’s all the laughing about out here?”  We ended the exercise when it was suggested we pop the other balloon, so I put it in the chair and sat on it until it popped!  Another loud round of laughter.

Then we talked about how important family,  friends, and connections are, and everyone except Suzy spoke – but she had the biggest smile!  We closed by saying each person’s name and expressing gratitude for them.  To each person, I said, “Thank you for being a part of our circle today, You made my day!”  Then we held hands and sang ‘Amazing Grace’ together.

It was almost time for lunch, and the care team came out to escort our now very connected group into the dining room.  But, you know what?  They didn’t want to leave. They had experienced a powerful human connection with one another and with us. They felt valued as whole and capable, They felt loved. They felt safe. They contributed with a purpose in making another person’s day better.

We can all begin today to recognize and value the power of human connections.   We can clean up the relationships that matter to us now.  We can have the courage to offer a part of our soul and to seek it in another.  We can do this with our residents, our family members, our co-team members, our bosses, our siblings and our mates and our friends and our colleagues.

We can all do this – even with the disconnection and the discord all around us. We can do this for the soul of the world.


Elizabeth Lesser challenges us to “Say your truth, and seek truth in others“.  She says       “Be like a new kind of first responder… the one to take the first courageous step toward the other.” Elizabeth Lesser starts her talk in the Ted Talk in this post with the lessons she learned from being a midwife. “Everyone in this room is a former baby with a distinctive birthright,” she says, and we are all possessed of a “unique spark.

I invite you to take 15 minutes this weekend to reflect on the relationships in your life.  Authentic, genuinely caring relationships are at the core of everything that matters in the world. What greater gift can we give to another than the gift 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 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.

Old people are less relevant, and have less value – self fulfilling prophecy?

“When we expect certain behaviors of others, we are likely to act in ways that make the expected behavior more likely to occur.” (Rosenthal  1985)

In 1968 Dr. Robert Rosenthal conducted an experiment. The teachers in a single California elementary school were told that some of their students could be expected to be “intellectual bloomers,” doing better than expected in comparison to their classmates.

  • The “intellectual bloomers” names were made known to the teachers, and the teachers were not told that these children were actually no more talented or smarter than other kids, scoring average and below average IQ scores.
  • At the end of the study, all students were again tested with the same IQ test used at the beginning of the study. All six grades in both experimental and control groups showed a  gain in IQ from before the test to after the test.
  • However, First and Second Graders showed statistically significant gains favoring the experimental group of “intellectual bloomers.” This led to the conclusion that teacher expectations, particularly for the youngest children, can influence student achievement.
  • Rosenthal concluded that even attitude or mood could positively affect the students when the teacher was made aware of the children they thought to be  “intellectual bloomers.” The teacher may pay closer attention to and even treat the child differently in times of difficulty.
  • This study has been utilized over the past 50 years, in different situations, and is called a self-fulfilling prophecy or Pygmalion or Rosenthal effect.
  • If a group or a person has a particular expectation of a certain behavior of another group or a person, the expected behavior is likely to occur.

When it comes to aging, our whole culture is saturated with the expectation that there are certain stereotypes of how older people should act including elder adults themselves.

“What if everything we have learned about aging is wrong?”  Dr. Bill Thomas,

  • Society expects and believes that elderhood and aging are bad, sad, and depressing – and so, as we age we are likely to act in ways that make the expected behavior more likely to occur!
  • A study published in the journal Experimental Aging Research suggests that just reminding elders of the fact that older people have bad memories, for example, may be enough to negatively affect their recall ability.
  • Not surprising given that this effect can be found in any subgroup or individual. Tell someone they are dumb long enough and they will believe it and act accordingly.

Self-perceptions and society perceptions of aging tend to influence thoughts and behaviors without people being consciously aware that this is happening.  Changing perceptions of aging is challenging because it involves both individual perceptions of aging and wide-spread societal negative stereotypes that are plastered on social media, news, and in advertising.

Changing aging can begin with you and me.  After all, whatever your age, if you are not an elder now,  you are an elder-in-waiting!

“What you think, you become,” Buddha taught. You’ve heard high-minded quotes like these all your life. Now science has caught up. We can finally quantify and track how beliefs and expectations can shape outcomes.

Older adults who associate aging with ongoing growth and the pursuit of meaningful activities are more likely to view experiences – both enjoyable and challenging in adaptive ways.   We need to push back on the societal stereotypes.  And the data proves that we must, indeed change the current paradigm of aging now to preserve our own true identities as we age.

  • Longevity: A 23-year study,  of older adults who reported more positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those who bought into society’s negative stereotype of aging.
  •  Illness: In a study of 1,286 people who believed that aging is a time of continued learning and development reported fewer illnesses six years later.  In contrast, those who believed that aging is a time of physical loss had increased physical illness over the same time period.
  • Brain Health: Compared to people with more positive views of aging, those who endorsed more negative age stereotypes displayed greater signs of risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease. It was discovered that the hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory, decreased in size at a faster rate in those who embraced negative age stereotypes. (Moser, Spagnoli, & Santos-Eggimann, 2011)

So, when you look in the mirror, see the truth about yourself.  We are all aging, and society may say you are ‘over the hill,” worn out, of no value, unattractive, and worse. Do you believe that?  Or are you ready to disrupt that idea?

Look at your future elder self in a mirror.  What do you see?  It is proven that “As we think we shall become.”

  • Look at your future elder self: Do you see yourself as a full, capable, beautiful human being, with a vibrant curious spirit even if you have lost your hair, your mobility,  your vision, or your mind?
  • Look at your future elder self: Do you see yourself growing, learning, giving, playing, and living?
  • Look at your future elder self:  Are you able to embrace your life, and recognize that you have much to give and share – right up until that very last breath when you transition to your next great adventure?

Join the movement to change society’s stereotype of aging. Do not let the expectations of society about aging become a self-fulfilling prophecy for you.   You have an opportunity now to change your future experience beyond adulthood, embracing your journey into your own elderhood.


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.

Disrupting Aging

Slow down….and listen. They said. Turn your cell phones on. They said. Share with the world what is happening. After 110 performances on Changing Aging’s Disrupt Aging live theater event, held recently in Eugene, Oregon, its hard to imagine this formula not working to get people’s attention. The message: its time we change how we think about aging.

Changing Aging attendance group 2JPG
Compass Senior Living crew attending the Changing Aging event (from left): Amira, Kory, Beth, Jean, Becca, Niki. (Catherine and Mary not pictured)

The day started with a small group lunch with Dr. Bill Thomas, geriatrician and founder of The Eden Alternative. The group of about 20 were all there for various reasons–from AARP representatives to an elder currently living in a senior community. Dr. Thomas has started what he calls #AskDrBill– an egalitarian way of answering everyone’s hardest questions about aging (for which he specifically asks).

I asked the hardest question I knew about aging: aging comes with loss, how do you ‘be okay’ with not being able to do everything that you used to be able to do? To which Dr. Bill gave his words of wisdom based on his experience, “Change comes with loss, not just aging. If you looked at your checkbook the same way, you’d only record the expenses but not the income. And, that’s not an accurate picture of what your finances look like. Pay attention to the ‘other side’ of the ledger book. We pay attention to the loss and not what is to be gained with the change.”

Gain with the change. The biggest ‘aha’ moment as he said this was not the metaphor of the ledger book–although that is a great metaphor for how one can look at what life throws at you–it was that aging is just change. And, we have lots of change in our lives. So, why is this change so different from the others? It needs flexibility, resiliency, thoughtfulness, and planning. Like any change that life throws our way. Its all between our ears in the way the change is framed.

Disrupt Dementia–The Momentia Movement. The afternoon transitioned into a “non-fiction theater” event as the Changing Aging crew calls it. The group performed two simultaneous tales of a Ugandan refugee and those living with dementia. The Ugandan refugee, Samite (pronounced SA-me-tay), performs the music that he composes as his journey inspires him and life’s challenges, and changes, come his way; as he rebuilds his life. Similarly, the stories told by the elders living with dementia, in their own words, tell the tale of changes that come to them, but how they are inspired to continue on their journey as life throws these particular changes into their own paths. It’s a heart-wrenching, but necessary, truth about how those living with dementia are doing just that–living— and it is up to us to help them adapt and keep living.

Disrupt Aging. As the evening progressed, a second performance blended myth and science; challenging us to re-frame aging. Dr. Bill asks “what if?” What if everything we knew about aging was wrong? Accompanied with music, storytelling, and, yes, audience participation games, we learned that there is no such thing as a “senior moment”. We all simply have a “filing cabinet” and, as we get older, the filing cabinet is more full–and more messy– and it just takes a little longer to find what we are looking for. What’s more, older brains have the power of gist. Older brains have the power to see patterns and pull from past experience to understand what is being explained and, well, you get the gist. Dr. Bill challenged us to stop perpetuating the myth of the senior moment. “Social change starts between the ears,” says Dr. Thomas. Just like racism and sexism, ageism persists when we tacitly agree to ageist comments and jokes by not saying anything. When we let it go, we imply that its okay to perpetuate myths on aging and see elders as declining. The Changing Aging tour is challenging us to perceive aging as a vivid and enlivening process that presents us with extraordinary risks, and rewards. 

We are all getting older and will be considered old, if we aren’t already. How will you approach this change?

 

Related posts and resources:

I have a 20-year old brain in an old body

Elderhood–what do we want to do with another 30 years?

Human connection–at the core of everything that matters in the world

My shrinking world

Featured image photo courtesy of Changingaging.org.


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 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. She lives in Eugene with her husband, Michael, where they enjoy golf, travel, and volunteering.

Gratitude is good for the Heart – February Heart Healthy month

“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

The leading cause of death for American men and women in the United states is heart disease, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths.

But here is some good news!  Research shows that feeling grateful doesn’t just make you feel good. It also helps — literally helps — the heart.

A positive mental attitude is good for your heart.  It fends off depression, stress and anxiety. This will decrease the risk of heart disease!

Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine specializes in disease processes and has been researching behavior and heart health for decades. He wondered if the very specific feeling of gratitude made a difference, too.

So he did a study. He recruited 186 men and women, average age 66, who already had some damage to their heart, either through years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of heart attack or even an infection of the heart itself.

It turned out the more grateful people were, the healthier they were.  And when Mills did blood tests to measure inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury, or plaque buildup in the arteries, he found lower levels among those who were grateful — an indication of better heart health.

So Mills did a small follow-up study to look even more closely at gratitude.

  • He tested 40 patients for heart disease and noted biological indications of heart disease such as inflammation and heart rhythm.
  • Then he asked half of the patients to keep a journal most days of the week and write about two or three things they were grateful for.
  • People wrote about everything, from appreciating children to being grateful for spouses, friends, pets, travel, jobs and even good food.
  • After two months, Mills retested all 40 patients and found health benefits for the patients who wrote in their journals
  • And when he compared their heart disease risk before and after journal writing, there was a decrease in risk after two months of writing in their journals.

Mills isn’t sure exactly how gratitude helps the heart, but he thinks it’s because it reduces stress, a huge factor in heart disease.

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 into 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 … nurturing relationships, material comforts, the body that allows you to experience the world, the mind that allows you to really understand yourself, and your essential spiritual nature. Breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible.


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.


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. 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.

What is the Perennial Generation

“That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in another.”Adlai Stevenson

So much is written today about how to recruit, educate, and inspire the Millennial generation.  We have talked about it in our leadership team meetings, and we have examined our policies and procedures.  I asked our payroll specialist to run a list of our 600 employees by age and found that 52 percent of our employees are under age 35.  According to the Pew Research, Millennials are now the largest labor force in the United States at 53.5%.

We researched things that would attract Millennials such as

  • Fair working salary and benefits
  • Flexible work schedule
  • More frequent feedback and coaching
  • An authentic mentor-leader that inspires them to greatness
  • A cause greater than themselves
  • Opportunities to continually grow and learn.

As I looked at this list, I thought to myself, What is good for the Millennials is actually good for  all of us!”

I also realized that our society has begun to label and judge prospective employees by their generational characteristics. We all read about Millennials as ‘tech savvy,self-centered, lazy, entitled, know-it-all.’ Generation X  is referred to as ‘cynical get-it-done innovators’, and Boomers as ‘idealistic, dependable  work ethic.’  If we, as a society, and in our business, label people in generalizations, we lose the insight into the capabilities of each person to be instrumental in creating successful workplaces.

My role in our company is education and innovation.  As I travel around the United States and connect with the care teams, I found that these labels are simply labels. In fact, each individual is truly unique.  I have worked alongside some amazingly committed 25-year-olds –  and I  have worked with some 55 year old Boomers who did not have a good work ethic.  So the stereotype is just that.

I also learned, that no matter what the age of a person, there is a desire to be inspired by leaders who allow them to grow, learn and discover their paths to becoming the best they can be.  Most also want to be a part of a cause greater than themselves. They want to find their tribe within the workplace where they feel valued, protected, and loved.

In examining and studying the Millennials, I had an ‘aha about our roles as leaders. The Millennials shined a new light on my own discriminatory language and perceptions. Although I am an elder advocate, and I have spent years speaking out against ageism and labeling elders based on their age or  cognitive or physical capability – I have been guilty of applying ageism prejudices when categorizing our team members into age groups and stereotypes.

I decided, “Labels be-gone!”  It is not about the generational differences, it is about our leadership and our power to transform ourselves and others by our words and actions!  I recently heard a term referring to people as perennials’, meaning people who can cross over different age groups, and are able to relate to everybody.

Gina Pell, Content editor for The What – a clever list for curious people gave this definition:

Meet the Perennials. We are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current, and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded, risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge. We comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic.”

Yes!  There is no need to label people – we are all ever-blooming and growing! We are perennials.  What a beautiful way to frame a workplace, with people of all ages, backgrounds, experience, and talents.

Inclusive – not divisive.

As a family of perennials – elders, middle-aged, and  younger people come together as one to care for and grow one another in an intergenerational vibrant community making friends of all ages.  This shift in thinking requires wise and courageous transformative leadership, an open mind, and a full heart. Together really is better.

The challenge to each of us as leaders in senior housing is to put away discriminatory labeling of others and work together. We must  create communities where elders, families, and employees are growing, teaching, discovering, experimenting, contributing, and trusting one another to do the right thing in the spirit of honor and love.

Trusting relationships are the most basic of human needs and the strongest foundation for caring for one another.


Perennial Definition:

1. lasting for an indefinitely long time; enduring: her perennial beauty.
2.having a life cycle lasting more than two years.
3.lasting or continuing, as a stream.
4.perpetual; everlasting; continuing; recurrent.

 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. 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.

I have a 20-year old brain in an old body

What do people over 100 years old want you to know?

I think you will enjoy this 3-minute video below featuring  100-year-old Grandma Eileen who answers the question, “What do I ask old people?”   She answers candidly, and she may give you insight into your own future-self as you continue on your journey when you will someday enter into the wonderful developmental stage of elderhood!

“I have a 20-year-old brain in an old body.”  “My secret is that you make your own happiness, and you make the place better where you are”

This week I went to a celebration of life for 105-year-old Ina Hinds.  Ina and I visited every week at church.  She was interesting and fun. She wore beautiful hats.  Her lipstick and makeup immaculate, and she was dressed ‘to the nines’.   She was beautiful, and her vibrant spirit inspires us today.

In Las Vegas, where I live, Ina Hinds was locally famous and was frequently mentioned in local news stories for her participation in active exercise classes past her 100th birthday.

As a widow in 1992, (age 81),  Ina joined an active exercise class at the YMCA and continued regularly.

“Everybody in the class was at least 60,” said Esther Abele, more than 30 years younger than Hinds. “But Ina was always the oldest, and an inspiration to all of us. She was still coming when she was more than 100. When she got macular degeneration and could no longer drive, she got somebody to bring her. When she started having to use a cane, she hung the cane on a chair, and sat in the chair using hand weights.” Ina recruited much younger women to the class.

Ina hinds at 105 birthday party in Las Vegas Nevada
Ina Hinds at 105 birthday party in Las Vegas Nevada

There is a stereotype of old and very old people. They are often not seen as whole and capable with a collective life experience and a desire to make a difference in the world. Ina was a progressive woman. She was born before women could vote. She put herself and her children through college. She worked at the Pentagon, and she was active in many social causes.

Yet, at her memorial service, many people were surprised at her life accomplishments.  Why?  Because they did not ask her!

Ask the elders in your life what they are looking forward to.  You may be surprised.  Too often we think that elders primarily want to reflect on the past.  Ask about lessons learned from their past experiences that can help you or the world be better today. Those over 100 years old who I meet as I travel around the United States tell me that they live with joy one day at a time, looking forward with gratitude and in anticipation for each new day.

How well-known to you are the elders in your life?

  • Take the time to ask meaningful questions about their experience, their hopes and their dreams.
  • Record their stories in video or audio formats to keep for generations.
  • Create wisdom circles in your homes or in your community where elders and younger people gather to talk and share life experiences, advice, and laughter.

If you are not an elder now – you are an elder-in-waiting. Let us now look to our elders as role models, Showing us how to live with grace and joy into elderhood!


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. 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