Encounters of the Real Kind Book 3

Encounters of the Real Kind: Musings, poetry, stories about elders, forgetfulness and life, Book 3Encounters_cover_front_only

Edited by Nader R. Shabahangi, Ph.D.
Elders Academy Press (2015)
150 pages; $16.95 Softcover, plus shipping

Order Encounters of the Real Kind Book 3

Elders Academy Press is excited to present the third volume in the Encounters of the Real Kind series; a shared tome of stories, poems and musings from the 2013/2014 participants in the Pacific Institute Gero-Wellness Program at AgeSong.

The Gero-Wellness Program interns at AgeSong come from a variety of schools and universities in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. The participants are interns and doctoral students with backgrounds in psychology, gerontology, counseling, grief and loss support, and human development. Through their practicum experience at AgeSong, they show an authentic interest and passion in their work with the aging population.

The Pacific Institute Gero-Wellness Program interns are part of an engaged movement that views aging with respect and awareness. All residents at AgeSong Eldercare Communities have an opportunity to connect with the interns who provide emotional and therapeutic support individually and/or in group settings.

A Note from the Editor about Encounters of the Real Kind

AgeSong programming for eldercare seeks to return meaning to aging and “Old Age.” In so doing, the hope is to return to the centrality of meaning in all of our lives.

Meaning is not to be found in either the pure philosophical contemplation of life or just the practical, everyday activities of earning a living. Rather, meaning must be grounded both in concepts and in experience. What makes the Gero-Wellness Program so unique is that students who are learning about the social sciences, such as social work and psychology, can combine these intellectual concepts with the depth of experience presented to them by elders. Residential care settings such as AgeSong provide such opportunities.

AgeSong and its partner Pacific Institute address the marginalization of the elderly in modern society; here, students and interns learn from elders, while in turn elders feel valued and respected for being the teachers they are.

In these stories and poems you can see how the AgeSong Elders are teaching the timeless qualities of being human: being in the moment, in the here and now, relating deeply with others and oneself, being kind and generous, giving and accepting, loving and caring. These ways of being are so very much needed in our modern-day societies, which are increasingly fast paced, materialistic, and cerebral.

“Elders show us what our heart needs, what it yearns for. As such, elders may be the solution to many of the problems we face today. All we need to do is listen, to spend time with them. Our lives may never be the same after such encounters of the real kind.”
—Nader Shabahangi, Editor, CEO AgeSong

“Days spent as an intern at AgeSong are unpredictable. Any given day may hold moments of joy, connection, challenge, affection, sadness, and delight — often in rapid succession. The experience of being there is collage-like, with many elements co-occurring simultaneously. My arts background gives me the freedom to look at things through my own lens, paralleling the creative freedom memory loss can give some of our forgetful elders. The collages reproduced in this book are visual anecdotes created to process my experience of a day’s worth of encounters with members of the AgeSong community.”
-Ivy Tiegel, MFTi Expressive Arts Therapy Intern

“So how can we come to understand and cherish, accept and love our frail and forgetful seniors? The answer: by appreciating who they are right now—not compared to days, weeks, or years ago. We need to meet and appreciate them as they are today and not worry about yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. We can deal with that as it comes. Most importantly, we need to celebrate who they are now, accept their limitations, and rejoice in what they still have—what Age Song calls “personhood.”
As the educational component of the AgeSong/Pacific Institute collaborative, Pacific Institute actively promotes the recognition of “personhood,” making the experience for residents of AgeSong-managed facilities full and enjoyable. Furthermore, Pacific Institute seeks to spread this philosophy of care to all who desire to connect more intimately with seniors. That philosophy is reflected in these stories, poems, and observations, contributed by our interns. Enjoy them!”

—Peter Szutu, President Pacific Institute

Encounters of the Real Kind: Musings, poetry, stories about elders, forgetfulness and life, Book 3
Edited by Nader R. Shabahangi, Ph.D.
Elders Academy Press (2015)
150 pages; $16.95 Softcover, plus shipping

Purchasing Details:

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Encounters of the Real Kind, Book 2

Encounters of the Real Kind: Musings, poetry, stories about elders, forgetfulness and life, Book 2Encounters of the Real Kind Book 2 cover
Edited by Nader R. Shabahangi, Ph.D.
Elders Academy Press (2014)
240 pages; $16.95 Softcover, plus shipping

Order Encounters of the Real Kind Book 2

This is the second volume in the series of Encounters of the Real Kind. These stories, poems and musings are shared by the 2012/2013 participants in the AgeSong Gero-Wellness training program. The Gero-Wellness Internship program emphasizes that we need to ‘see’ and care for the whole human being, that we learn from our elders about what really matters in life.

With backgrounds in psychology, gerontology, counseling, grief and loss support, and human development, interns come from a variety of schools and universities in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. These interns show an authentic interest and passion in their work with the aging population. They are part of a movement that views aging with respect and awareness, a necessity to become a mature and wise human being. This is a view that looks at the gifts aging afford us.

Pacific Institute teaches a humanistic-existential, process-oriented approach to working with individuals in general and elders specifically. This approach refrains from pathologizing and labeling and tries to understand the appearance of symptoms as important messages to be explored and understood. In such a phenomenological approach, symptoms are understood as solutions to whatever ails or burdens a resident rather than a problem to be eliminated.

All residents at AgeSong Communities have an opportunity to connect with interns who provide emotional and therapeutic support individually and/or in group settings.

Interns spend two or more days a week in an AgeSong community and may accompany residents to group programs, share stories while on walks, connect in a painting class, listen to music, and read poetry together. They also plan trips to the opera or share in a quiet moment. Groups focus on meditation, expressive arts, movement, humor, national and international news, literature, travel and much more. Our interns follow the lead of elders; they show us what is important to them.

An elder once told me “We will all die. Why? Because we can’t take care of each other.”

~ Jacob Engelskirger, Doctoral Intern at AgeSong

I have seen amazing transformation of GeroWellness interns over the past year. When they started AgeSong’s Gerowellness Program, interns thought they were helping members of the community. Upon completion of the program, they came to the realization that they were learning more from members of the community than members of the community were learning from them. The stories in Encounters of the Real Kind (Book 2) document their learning.

~ Sally D. Gelardin, Ed.D., Engagement Director, AgeSong

“I bring the wood and the AgeSong Elders start the fire with their wisdom.”

~ Chaplain Rick, Ministry of Presence

 

Encounters of the Real Kind: Musings, poetry, stories about elders, forgetfulness and life, Book 2
Edited by Nader R. Shabahangi, Ph.D.
Elders Academy Press (2014)
240 pages; $16.95 Softcover, plus shipping

Purchasing Details:

Order Encounters of the Real Kind Book 2

Encounters of the Real Kind, Book 1

Encounters of the Real Kind Book 1 book coverEncounters of the Real Kind: Musings, poetry, stories about elders, forgetfulness and life, Book One
Edited by Nader R. Shabahangi, Ph.D.
Elders Academy Press (2013)

203 pages, $20.00 Softcover, plus shipping; $9.95 eBook – Epub & Mobi

Order Softcover version of Encounters of the Real Kind Book 1Order ebook of Encounters of the Real Kind Book 1

Elders Academy Press is excited to introduce a new series sponsored by Pacific Institute featuring the contributions of the Pacific Institute Gero-Welness Program interns training within the AgeSong Eldercare Communities: Encounters of the Real Kind.

Encounters of the Real Kind are exactly that: deep, life-changing meetings between human beings.

The Pacific Institute Gero-Wellness training emphasizes that we need to ‘see’ and care for the whole human being. It teaches that symptoms are meaningful and important signals for a deeper understanding of each person, that these symptoms need to be met with curiosity and respect, with an attitude of wonder and love.

There is never anything ‘wrong’ with a person. Rather, we ask: what is right about what is happening now? Where does it want to lead us? How are we to understand its message to us? We see our elders with eyes of love, not with eyes that look for pathologies and disease.

Elders, with all of their richness, depth and life-experience, are the most beautiful teachers in this world. These teachers provide our interns – but really all of us who take time to be with them – the privilege to deeply experience and understand what it means to live a life, to have lived a life. Elders give those who will allow themselves to be present with them an exceptional opportunity to grow into a full human being.

This is not an easy journey. Interns face the complexity of the question of human identity and the fear and anxiety of disability and dying. They begin to understand the difference between being-with and doing-to and learn the art of unfolding a person’s process. They experience the many forms of forgetfulness and states of awareness, the many ways of communication, verbal and non-verbal. They begin to appreciate the quality and subjective nature of time, of slowing down, of being present and of listening deeply. They learn to establish a trusting relationship and experience the richness and challenge of hospice work. They learn about mindfulness, about focused attention, building community, and the meaning of isolation and loneliness. They learn to be with coma, trauma, and the many other forms and meanings of dependencies. They learn about the finitude of life, about what really matters – to them and others. Interns begin to grasp the difference between information and knowledge, between knowledge and wisdom.

Hearing an elder speak about life, sitting quietly next to a forgetful elder holding hands, walking slowly with an elder noticing one’s breath, the breeze on one’s face – these are encounters of the real kind. They present us with an inkling of the dimension of the human soul and spirit.

These encounters change your life.

Encounters of the Real Kind: Musings, poetry, stories about elders, forgetfulness and life, Book 1
Edited by Nader R. Shabahangi, Ph.D.
Elders Academy Press (2013)
203 pages, $20.00 Softcover, plus shipping; $9.95 eBook – Epub & Mobi

Purchasing Details:

Order Softcover version of Encounters of the Real Kind Book 1Order ebook of Encounters of the Real Kind Book 1