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monica-headshot"My work as a therapeutic harpist is a service and not a performance. I don't expect any kind of recognition," multi-talented Seattle musician Monica Schley explained when she sat down to discuss her experience as a Certified Clinical Musician. Most of Schley's musical roles, such as her chamber-pop band, The Daphnes, or role in the experimental pop opera, "Now I'm Fine," involve performance and entertainment but through her service as a therapeutic musician, she says, she's found "soul purpose" and improved aspects of her musicianship. Schley began her journey with the harp at the age of 14. Since then she's gained mastery of her instrument and acquired a wide repertoire of music which will  soon debut on her first full length album "Keep the Night Dark." Her experience spans classical, chamber, rock, jazz, improvisation and avant garde. She teaches, composes, and has collaborated with dozens of musicians. Three years ago she did something different. She enrolled in a course in clinical musicianship accredited by the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians. In addition to the coursework she served an intensive internship playing roughly 40 hours in hospitals and kidney dialysis centers and 20 hours in hospice. This is the first year she's been practicing with full certification. As a therapeutic harpist, Schley says, her ability to memorize music has improved and "It really opened up my ears to how I connect music and sound."
345,000 people in Washington struggle with hoarding disorder according to Governor Jay Inslee's proclamation for Hoarding Disorder Week, October 18-24. Inslee presents the case for lifting awareness and understanding family members and neighbors who hoard. What is hoarding disorder? What causes it? Who is at risk? What can we do about it? Are you or someone you know living with hoarding disorder? HOARDINGHoarding disorder is marked by a major difficulty letting go of possessions, the inability to organize them, and the acquisition of so many belongings that much or all living space becomes impeded or unusable thereby causing distress. Hoarding disorder exists on a spectrum from the sensational cases seen on television or in news to isolated incidences that grow more out of control with time. It shows up in young adulthood but can intensify in later years when age related problems interfere with functionality, memory or motivation. Hoarding disorder is a complex stand alone or co-occurring psychiatric disorder with public health implications. It isn't eccentricity or laziness and people with the disorder aren't gross or simply unmotivated. Those are myths of the past. It's distinct from collecting or cluttering. Collections are ordered and usually have a designated place. Clutter is disorganized yet doesn't block movement or overtake necessary spaces such as a stove or a bed. Neither have a major drive to collect stuff or major difficulty letting it go. Hoarding is much more complex. So, who are hoarders? Society is just beginning to understand. In the video below you'll see a profile of a former business woman in Orange County. She and her family talk about their perspectives on her hoarding disorder as they try to understand. She's the subject of her daughter's documentary, "My mother's garden."

I first encountered "Dotty's Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living With Dementia" when it was published within a blog at The Art of Alzheimer's in July of this year. Authored by Dorothy DeMarco and originally appearing at the Alzheimer's Reading room Dotty's Ten...

Falls are the leadiCaution signsng cause of injury-related hospitalization for older adults. If you're 65 years of age or over you have a 1 in 3 chance of falling. More than 12,000 people in Washington are hospitalized for a fall each year causing skilled nursing stays,  loss of independence and fatalities at disturbing rates. So, starting now, September 23rd, National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, please take a minute to consider the information offered to help you and your loved ones  stay safe from falls. Falls aren't a normal part of aging. For the most part they're preventable which means that your awareness and proactive decisions make a difference. The risk factors that cause falls are known and can be addressed in three steps:
blooming-front4Home Care agency professionals and service providers gathered at the 9th Annual Washington Home Care Association's "Blooming With The Boomers" Conference Tuesday at the Lynnwood Convention Center. Record numbers of home care professionals and service providers attended. During the two day event, September 15 and 16, participants exchanged information about best practices and strategies for managing business while also learning how policies and laws are shaping home care. With A Little Help's Director of Business Development, Shawn D'Amelio, who chaired the Conference Committee for last year's successful event, leads the Committee again this year.
"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.