IOA’s Dr. Patrick Arbore Honored with the 2016 Norma Satten Community Service Innovation Award

Dr. Arbore and Norma Satten
IOA’s Dr. Patrick Arbore, recipient of the Norma Satten Community Service Innovation Award, with Anne Hinton, former Executive Director of the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services.
Image from SF Healthy Aging

How do attitudes change? How are social norms altered and made better? How do we create true progress? It’s not from telling people that they have to change. People are stubborn, and societies even more so. No, real change comes from creating new structures, envisioning something different, and putting it into practice. In the civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, there was a slogan: “Attitude follows action.” If you get people to change their behavior, their attitudes will change along with them.

It’s a lesson that Norma Satten understood, and lived by. As a Bay Area pioneer in changing the lives of older adults, and empowering them to live the lives they choose, Norma helped to create a new attitude of love and respect for aging adults. By envisioning a different future, she created one. That’s why the Community Living Campaign, in which she played a key role, annually honors a Bay Area resident who has dedicated themselves to helping older adults live with dignity and independence.

And, this year, Institute on Aging is proud to announce that Patrick Arbore, EdD, is the recipient of the 2016 Norma Satten Community Service Award. Dr. Arbore is the Founder of Friendship Line and Founder/Director of IOA’s Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief Related Services (CESP), two nationally-recognized programs at Institute on Aging. He continues to present aging-related workshops and lectures throughout the country, and has authored numerous articles and book chapters on suicide prevention, bereavement, and suffering.

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Soothing Sounds: Reintroducing Music to an Older Adult’s Nighttime Routine

soothing music nighttime routine older adultsThink back to when you were a child, and the music your parents used to play to put you to sleep. Maybe it was a soft lullaby that soothed you into dreamland, a tape cassette of a children’s song, or perhaps they even sang you to sleep themselves. For centuries, music has been instrumental in helping children sleep—and it’s now been proven to work for older adults as well.

Research has shown that songs with 60 beats-per-minute or less can help slow down heart rates and ready the body for sleep. This insight might be key to helping your aging loved one experience a more restful night. For many older adults, sleep grows more challenging as their bodies produce less melatonin, becoming prone to waking more often. Bringing music into your loved one’s nighttime routine can improve the quality of their rest, and offer emotional and physical relief.

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Encouraging Tech Savvy Older Adults to Practice Mindfulness—and Prevent Injuries—Using Simple Desk Exercises

simple desk exercises prevent injuries older adultsThere’s no doubt that increasingly tech savvy older adults are spending more time in front of their computers. And this has its fair share of benefits: it allows your loved one greater access to information, online socialization, and medical resources. Yet sitting at the computer for too long can also cause unwanted health problems if they’re not careful.

Some of the health issues that your loved one might encounter from prolonged sitting and poor posture include injuries, joint pain, and even an increased risk of serious diseases. Any one of these can not only cause an aging adult physical pain, but emotional suffering as well. Encouraging them to engage in mindful practices at their desk—like exercises and stretches—can greatly reduce these health risks, and allow your loved one to make the most of their computer time, without unnecessary consequences.

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Spooktacular Halloween Tips For Older Adults in the Bay Area

halloween tips for older adults in the bay areaHalloween is all about imagination: it’s about hearing a howling rustle of wind and thinking it’s a monster, or seeing some uncut cloth and pondering yourself into a princess. It’s about imagining skeletons dancing around and playing each other like xylophones. It’s the spooky symphony of our mind. But for some reason, we’ve decided that older adults should stop being imaginative. It’s assumed, incorrectly, that the most imaginative holiday of all should be a thing of the past once you reach a certain age.

And that’s nonsense.

But, if you have an older adult in your life, how can you get them to be part of the season when society has just kind of assumed they shouldn’t be there? While the Bay Area may not have a classic leaf-turning, Great Pumpkin-style fall, we still celebrate the holiday in style—and host plenty of senior-friendly activities. From local events and readings to movie-watching parties and costumes, Halloween can be a great way for older adults to show that the power of imagination—and the joy of creativity—don’t respect artificial age boundaries.

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The Silent Disease: 5 Proactive Steps to Treat and Prevent Osteoporosis

5 Proactive Steps to Treat and Prevent OsteoporosisIn her late 60s, Gladys was pursuing her MA in clinical psychology to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a counselor. Just as she was finishing up her schooling, her world turned upside down when a minor fall in the bathroom left her with a badly broken leg. Instead of spending the next year focusing on her new practice, Gladys had no choice, but to concentrate on a painful recovery. A scan at the hospital after the fall revealed she had osteoporosis, the root cause of the severe fracture she endured.

Sadly, her story is not unique. Over 53 million Americans are already suffering from osteoporosis or struggling with low bone mass — which puts them at a high risk of developing the condition. It’s a silent disease, meaning there aren’t obvious signs or symptoms to signal that someone is suffering from it. Instead, one’s bones slowly and imperceptibly lose density, becoming weaker over time. This increases your aging loved one’s susceptibility to fractures, even from minor falls or bumps. A broken bone can have a major impact on the quality of your loved one’s life, taking them away from what they love to do. Fortunately, it’s possible to take proactive measures against osteoporosis, and help prevent it in the first place.

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Painting Outside the Lines: IOA’s Graffiti Project

Most cities are built with a certain geometric order in mind. They have a plan, and a system—all hard angles and neat lines. Streets blend into each other, and one block flows to the next: orderly, structured, and sensical. Graffiti, then, is a delirious blow against that order, an explosion of color and chaos. It’s an eruption against our long-held assumptions.

That’s why it is perhaps not surprising that graffiti recently took center stage at Institute on Aging, where we’re dedicated to changing the way we view older adults in our society. IOA has been a disruptive force in the accepted norm of ageism, much in the same way that the rise of graffiti in the 70s shook our notions of art and public spaces.

A 3-day program, led by IOA and in conjunction with Man One and Crewest Studio, invited older residents of San Francisco to take joyful part in the traditions of graffiti, and in doing so, to shake up the notions of which traditions belong to whom. It showed that aging, like art, is only confined by the lines we choose to draw around it.

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3 Ways to Encourage and Inspire Your Loved One’s Caregiver

3 ways to encourage and inspire your loved ones caregiverWelcoming a caregiver into your loved one’s life shouldn’t stop after day one: offering ongoing support allows deeper bonds to form and a stronger relationship between families and caregivers. But, creating that connection takes conscious effort and intention. With a little thoughtfulness, your aging loved one’s caregiver will soon become an integral part of your family—and that’s something that pays off for everyone.

Treating your caregiver well not only makes their work more enjoyable, but it gives them more reason to stay with your family. And that can be invaluable with the high caregiver turnover rates in places like the Bay Area, where more and more older adults are opting to age in place. Take a little time, whenever you can, to encourage your loved one’s caregiver, and to show them what an asset they are to both you and your loved one.

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Easing the Devastating Mental and Emotional Toll of Chronic Geriatric Pain

communicating with a new caregiverDealing with chronic pain as an older adult can be life-altering. My grandmother suffered from constant aches and pains during the latter years of her life, and it was really hard to see how much she struggled just to feel comfortable on a day-to-day basis. Because of this, she stayed home most days, only seeing people when they came to visit her.

Spending time with my grandmother during that difficult period of her life showed me how much of an impact our mental state has on how we process pain. My grandma and I talked a lot about her frustration with her physical body, and I offered empathy and compassion as best I could to try to provide her with an emotional outlet to share her feelings.

If your aging loved one is suffering from chronic geriatric pain, their emotional and mental well-being can be a significant piece in managing the condition. Approaching their chronic pain not only from a physical perspective, but also with the mental-emotional toll of the situation in mind, can make all the difference in nurturing an overall quality of life.  

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Disrupt Aging: How Tech Startups Are Championing Home-Based Care for Older Adults

tech startups home based care for older adultsSometime around 75,000 years ago, a Neanderthal male suffered a broken leg. He was around 40-45, considered relatively old back then. We know his wound healed, a sure sign he was cared for by his fellow Neanderthals—in those days, a man who couldn’t walk would certainly die quickly without help. This first evidence of caring, those wordless millennia ago, is beautiful to think about. Archeologists also found potential evidence of a makeshift leg brace, but that is uncertain. If so, it might be the first piece of technology created solely for an older adult. And, for many, it may have seemed like the last.

If you have an aging loved one, you may have felt frustrated in recent years to see just how little of our technology boom has been marketed towards helping older adults—but that’s changing. Investors and inventors, especially younger Silicon Valley ones, are creating easy-to-use, app-based services that are transforming care and altering the way our loved ones grow older. They make it easier to age at home, and give relatives the peace of mind that their loved one is in good hands. Aging is, to use a term favored by startups and the tech press, being disrupted. Understanding how can help you offer the best possible support to the ones you love.

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Three Easy Strategies for Coping with—and Conquering—Dementia Caregiver Burnout

three easy strategies for coping with dementia caregiver burnoutFew things in life are more rewarding than caring for a loved one—being there for your aging parent usually gives back in spades. It teaches multiple lessons on love, human relationships, and what it truly means to be part of a family. Yet, being a caregiver, especially if your loved one struggles with dementia, also comes with many emotional ups and downs.

Caregivers of aging loved ones with dementia are tirelessly adapting to and exercising patience within ever-changing—and often emotionally charged—situations, something no one can fully prepare for ahead of time. Many family members struggle with burnout from the physical, mental, and emotional stress of this constant uncertainty. Fortunately, with the supportive tools and resources available throughout the Bay Area, and through some self-care practices and techniques, it’s possible to nip burnout in the bud.

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