California Wildfires – Life brings us to unexpected places. Love brings us home

“We are evacuating”   This is the text message I received On Thursday, July 26 at 9:54 pm from Candis Willis, the Compass Senior Living Director of Operations for the SW Region.  Sundial Assisted Living, located in Redding California – where 45 residents needed to get away from the ever-expanding fires, now nearing their address on Hilltop Road.

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Candis Willis, Compass Senior Living Director of Operations and Suzanna Trompszynski, the Administrator at Sundial had attended a  Disaster preparedness Symposium in Sacramento exactly one month earlier on June 26th, 2018.

Little did Suzanna know that exactly one month later she would be in a position to act.

Plan A July 26

The morning of July 26th Suzanna rented a Uhaul to prepare to take the med cart and wheelchairs if an evacuation was needed.  She prepped the residents and the team. She made sure everyone had a change of clothing ready.  Suzanna called all of the family members to let them know that they were preparing in the event they needed to evacuate.

As the fire reports came in during the day, some of the families came and took their loved ones home with them into an area not at risk of the fires.

When the text message came to me from Candis at 9:54 pm, they were leaving Sundial with 24 residents – transporting in employee cars.   They were hoping to find a hotel to check everyone into.  They learned quickly that all hotels south of Redding were fully booked, as many people had already evacuated from their homes to hotels.

Plan B July 26 was to take everyone to our sister Community in Citrus Heights California, Sun Oak Senior Living – east of Sacramento.  The Administrator, Kaye Key indicated they were prepared to take the residents.  About 2 am the weary travelers arrived, and spent the night at Sun Oak Senior Living, safely together.  They were warmly welcomed and comforted by the Sun Oak team.

The next morning, Suzanna got word that the evacuation was lifted and they started the return journey home to Redding.

But – on the way home they learned how unpredictable this fire was and discovered it was not yet safe to go back to Sundial Assisted Living.

Plan C – July 27

Suzanna and seven of her employees decided to take the residents to their own homes. The remarkable courage and commitment of the team was a beautiful expression of care and love. They ate together, played together, and gave great comfort and courage to one another.

Love Brings them home

Saturday, July 28, the residents that had been on this rescue journey were able to return home to Sundial Assisted Living.  By Monday, July 30, all of the residents, including those who were staying with families are expected to come back to their home.

But that’s not all.   Mark Broadhead who grew up in Redding and is now retired from the Airforce wanted to help his hometown.  Mark lives in  Gig Harbor Washington now.  He appealed to the residents of Gig Harbor, and as a result, he arrived on Sunday, July 29th  with over 3000 pounds of water and food and supplies for the evacuation centers in Redding.   Mark, the son of Candis Willis continues to serve his country and his community with acts of love and kindness. His generosity and honorable acts were embraced with gratitude.  

We are all connected – and in trying times heroes emerge, and character is defined.

This is a story of heroism and courage.  It is also a story about being prepared.  This is a call to all of us who have the responsibility for the precious lives of elders to plan, protect and prepare so you can act with confidence, critical thinking, and yes – with love too.

In the end – Love always brings us home!

(There is another Disaster training in September.  Check it out! )


As the time of this posting 98,724 acres are involved, and 20% contained.  720+ homes in Shasta county are destroyed.  over 1,000+ structures destroyed.   6 fatalities (including 2 firefighters), 7 people are missing.  35,000+ people evacuated.  Many in evacuation centers in Shasta County.    Please send your prayers and thoughts to the people impacted by this tragedy.


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

 

 

Youth and Elders transformed and connected – Music makes Memories!

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

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

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

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

Isaac and Billie

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


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

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

Adriana Garcia, Life Enrichment Coordinator

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


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

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

 

So much to Give! Elders giving, loving, living – and thriving

Think volunteering’s just a nice thing you do for others? Think again. A growing body of research has pointed to the social, emotional, and even physical health benefits of volunteering.

Now a recent study, published in the journal The Gerontologist, zeroes in on the particular benefits volunteering offers older adults, and reveals how we can remove the three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom by providing a sense of purpose for those elders living at home or in a senior housing community.

We are working with elders who are looking at life in a new way as they grow older.  It is an intentional practice that involves harvesting the wisdom of their lives, and  finding ways to transmit that wisdom as a legacy to future generations, and giving back through service.

See the short video below produced by the residents and care team at Sundial Assisted Living in Redding California.  The elders and the care team are disrupting society’s concept of aging, and are making a difference in the city of Redding,  and in the world!   The care team is inspired and motivated to service by the example and wisdom of the elders they serve.

We are grateful for their example and their service!  This holiday season and every day is an opportunity to spread kindness in a spirit of goodness and love.  It is amazing how giving can really make YOUR day!


About the author:

11062337_10206528118188840_645394201235573404_nJean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, in Eugene Oregon.  She is an Eden Alternative Educator, and Elder Advocate.  Jean is dedicated to supporting the care teams and the elders to grow, learn, and be the best they can be in this  celebration of elderhood. It is a journey where reciprocal care and teaching can allow close relationships, joy, and passion into the workplace and into the lives of elders and their families.  Elders have much to teach us, and  and we are open to learn and grow alongside them.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ― Mother Teresa

Pat Monahan led a pop tabs project in partnership with Ronald McDonald.  She saw a need and decided to see if her friends and family could help fill that need.  After decades of giving this elder feels like she has just begun to give!

As a life enrichment director of an assisted living in Redding California, it was a life-changing epiphany to realize that my job was not to entertain our elders, but to create avenues to bring purpose to their lives. I have the privilege of working with the most generous and sacrificial generation.

  • A generation who gave through coming together and surviving the Great Depression.
  • A generation who served and defended our nation through World War II.
  • A generation who created a stable and thriving economy through hard work and ingenuity after the war.
  • A generation  who  ran households and who created and grew businesses.
  • A generation of war heroes who deserve to live with purpose and joy.

In retirement, though many of these elders enjoy and pursue hobbies, interests. and other goals time now allows; they still innately love and desire to share a legacy and a spirit of generosity to give with purpose.

As this epiphany of bringing purpose to the forefront began to sink in, we began to intentionally create opportunities for our residents to give, and our residents came alive in ways we had never seen.

Residents who did not usually participate in our games, parties, or activities, would come to events centered around helping others.

  • We gave 25 backpacks to local children in need.
  • We adopted a kindergarten class in a local elementary school for whom we threw monthly parties and gave lots of hugs.
  • We raised enough money to give 35 families turkeys for Thanksgiving.
  • We collected the largest shipment of pop tabs used to raise funds that the Northern California Ronald McDonald House in Sacramento has ever received.

This was all accomplished by a group of 45 elders, their families, and our Sundial Assisted Living team. This generation does not see elderhood as a time just to sit back and receive after decades of hard work. They want to continue giving and growing through helping others and passing on this spirit of generosity to following generations.


About the guest author:  Holly Heleniak, Community Relations Director, Sundial Assisted Living, Redding California

holly-head-shotHolly says, “I consider myself truly blessed to have a job which allows me to spend time having fun and creating memories with incredible people.” Previously, Holly was a part of an international Christian ministry for ten years, traveling around the United States and abroad. She is a graduate of Texas Tech University and proudly hails from the state of Texas. Outside of work, Holly enjoys traveling, interior decorating, sports, being an aunt, and very soon a mom for the first time! . She also enjoys being involved in her local church. And of course, a great joy is singing and entertaining  residents with other Sundial team members!