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"Today, grandparents continue serving as quiet heroes in every corner of our country. From reading bedtime stories to their grandchildren to volunteering in their communities to acting as primary caregivers, they work hard each and every day while showing love and kindness to their families and those around them. Let us continue to show them the same, and let us forever honor their tremendous efforts to nurture, guide, and drive us in all we do."   obamaThose are the words of President Barack Obama in his 2015 proclamation of Grandparents Day, September 13th. Obama speaks from experience. He, President Clinton, and several other famous and successful people grew up
marathon-runners-1024x681Do you run? Walk? Bicycle? If you do, you're part of the reason that Seattle consistently ranks in the top ten fittest cities. If you need some motivation to join the crowd the National Institute on Aging has launched an annual program called Go 4 Life. Go 4 Life promotes physical activity to improve quality of life for older adults. This isn't just about urging couch potatoes to move this is a drive to bring exercise to everyone whether you have arthritis, live with dementia, suffer depression, experience low vision, or just feel too busy. Tap into the movement and improve your health--- it's Go 4 Life month!
[caption id="attachment_2372" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Laughing at Ida Culver Laughing at Ida Culver[/caption] You may have noticed, on our calendar, that Ballard Senior Center features a free class in Laughter Yoga (LY) every Thursday. Maybe you've encountered Laughter Yoga in one of Seattle's assisted living settings,  in a corporate context, on the curriculum at Bastyr University, Bellevue college or the campus of University of Washington. Laughter Yoga is embraced and offered in many venues because it's fun and healing and you don't have to be in a good mood to reap its benefits! Find relaxation, improve your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and reduce stress while you laugh. LY exercises are suitable for all ages and require no equipment... just you, your stamina, and your willingness to try it. [caption id="attachment_2439" align="alignright" width="314"]laughter at the hub Verde and class at TheHub[/caption] Laughter Yoga is fun and playful yet, as Teresa Verde, a pioneer, of Laughter Yoga in Seattle and Certified Laughter teacher since 2001, explains, "This is a vigorous exercise. It is basically a "laughter workout." Is Laughter Yoga good for elders? I asked. Yes. Laughter increases energy by oxygenating the system and triggering the "happiness factor."  Keys to a positive experience? Being open to new things, having some level of stamina, and participating in a group that embraces the idea.  Caregivers? Laughter Yoga is also good for you. It relieves stress, can be practiced in the moment, and promotes wellness.
Breath Deep Seattle and Obliteride events have success in raising funds for cancer research. 100% of Obliteride's profits go to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center while Breath Deep Seattle raises money for the LUNGevity Foundation, a grant making entity supporting lung cancer research and education. "Look, everyone has been affected by cancer in some way shape or form," concludes the narrator of a video advertising Obliteride. Teams hopped on bicycles or took a stand with their own two feet  joining others the weekend of August 8 and 9 to raise money and awareness for needed cancer research. It's too late to participate but it's not to late to donate.
B. Bartja Wachtel spoke to a packed crowd of caregivers at DSHS's Giving Care, Taking Care conference. They were there to hear about what some call techniques, skills, or methods  for easing on-the-job stress, but Bartja calls them, "ways of being in the moments of suffering." Wachtel, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Professional, and Child Mental Health Specialist, and Mindful Self-Compassion Trained Teacher led the group through sometimes moving and deeply effective meditations that can be practiced in moments of difficult feelings or in-the-moment caregiving stress. Mindfulness Self-Compassion (MSC) practices can be brief or more involved.  Do it in 3 minutes or devote your lunch break. To begin, simply settle into a comfortable position. You may have time to do a 2 minute body scan (a check in on you and where you are in the moment) or perhaps you can manage only a few deep slow breaths into the present moment. Put your hand over your heart to bring affection into your awareness if you like then continue. On a difficult day, maybe you can find 7 minutes for a  Self-Compassionate Break?  If not, Dr. Kristin Neff, researcher, co-developer of  MSC curriculum and narrator of the Self-Compassionate Break audio,  says, this can be used in the heat of the moment. It's a portable, powerful and flexible tool for managing the stress of difficult emotions.

Redmond's popular summer festival, Derby Days, July 10 and 11, features parades, a carnival, music and an exciting 5K run supporting Pancreatic Cancer Research. Have fun and make a difference this weekend! Derby Days expanded over its 75 year history to include the 5K Derby Dash....

all present adMost artists know that a performance is authentic when they can stay in the moment.  Athletes too understand that power when they talk about "staying within oneself."  It's that quality of presence in the moment that gives Elena Louise Richmond's song circle for Early Stage Memory Loss, All Present, its name and moving impact. "All Present is just that. It’s just for now," writes Richmond in her blog, All Present Almost Past. "It’s not for a performance later; it’s not to record and listen to. It’s just for that hour and a half when we sing and we can’t stop smiling at each other." [caption id="attachment_2283" align="alignright" width="250"]all present, circle Members of the Song Circle[/caption] All Present  meets 8 weeks a quarter at Greenwood Senior Center under the auspices of OK Chorale director Elena Louise Richmond and her assistant/copy editor, Susan, Susan's husband, Mike, and "the other Susan!"
[caption id="attachment_2276" align="alignleft" width="132"]carin Carin Mack[/caption] You probably think of Seattle as a national leader in tech, bio tech, aviation, and, of course the standardized cup of coffee...but did you know Seattle leads the nation in comprehensive, innovative dementia programming? Pockets of programming have been available in the city since the late 90's but recent expansions in services complement one another and form an outstanding network of support for all stages of memory loss. Seattle social worker Carin Mack stewards and develops Early Stage Memory Loss (ESML) programs for people in the early to mid stages of dementia.  I spoke with Mack about her ESML programs and Seattle's progressive dementia services. "It takes money, time and structure to build programming," Carin Mack explained. Leveraging her experience and vision gleaned from nearly 40 years of social work  Mack gradually built the structure for her nationally unparalled hub of ESML services at Greenwood Senior Center with steadfast support from Phinney Neighborhood Association. At the core are: the Gathering Place, a wholistically designed weekly program of cognitive and cultural enrichment components with exercise, Piano and Music Making sessions, support groups for ESML care partners and spouses, the professionally facilitated song circle "All Present," and a book group at the local library. While medicine searches for solutions to memory loss, programs such as these are crucial in keeping minds engaged, improving self esteem, and lifting awareness in the community. "Alzheimer's is nothing to fear. I am a loving person; I am a happy person. I have fun, friends, and family, and that gives me joy," group pic gatheringCeCe, a Gathering Place attendee writes in an awareness handout created by members of the program.
nh2Northaven Senior Living, located in the Northgate neighborhood across from the Post Office, is a friendly place. The all glass entrance to Northaven Independent Living opens into a modest and comfortable common space. Northaven Assisted Living is tucked safely behind the main building. It too opens into a comfortable common space where I found two ladies dozing and one anxious to engage me as I waited to talk with Assisted Living Director, Mary Quarterman, and Foundation Director, Bill Dorn. I enjoyed sitting in the safe, unpretentious and welcoming atmosphere.  I never imagined it was on the front lines of Seattle's "quiet crisis."