Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Front Porch Foundation Partners Fund Robotic Seal for Memory Care Communities

Paro, the robot baby harp seal, which was recently pilot tested at Front Porch communities, will soon be a permanent fixture at Front Summer Houses and other Front Porch memory care communities.

California Lutheran Homes, FACT, Pacific Homes and Sunny View foundations have all approved funding to purchase one or more of the audio-animatronic, interactive seal that helps engage those with memory issues including Alzheimer's Disease. As Front Porch partners, the four foundations philanthropically support Front Porch retirement communities. Paro will debut in the coming months at five Front Porch memory care communities and continues to be used at Summer House at Sunny View, the community at which Paro was pilot tested.
Paro isn't hard to love. It wiggles and squeaks. It shakes its head when its whiskers are touched. All of this courtesy of a 32-bit CPU and sensors that recognize touch, light, sound, temperature and position. Paro draws its energy from a battery charger. The Food and Drug Administration has designated it a "Class II medical device," the same designation as a wheelchair. [READ MORE]

Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing Receives Grant to Confront Online Security Among Seniors

Many people are victims of Internet scams. Others are concerned about online security for themselves and their loved ones. Some of the most vulnerable are seniors.
Ellie Piers

To help confront online security issues, Ellie Piers, a Carlsbad By The Sea resident for many years, bequeathed a generous monetary gift to Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing.

The gift will benefit the Center's ongoing mission of using technology to enhance wellbeing among older adults. Her contribution will allow the CIW to confront the issue of elder security by using adaptive technologies to develop initiatives related to senior online security, specifically in the Greater San Diego Area.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, elder abuse is a significant public health problem. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. In the United States alone, more than 500,000 older adults are believed to be abused or neglected each year with many such crimes believed to be not reported or under-reported.
"We are honored and grateful that Ellie has chosen to contribute to Front Porch in hopes of benefitting others," said Kari Olson, President of the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing. "The Center has been interested in addressing the topic of senior online security and her gift will give us a unique opportunity to focus on this important area of wellbeing. We are honored to pay tribute to Ellie's memory and passion to help others by making a difference." [READ MORE]

Find a Unique Gift at Front Porch Gallery

This holiday season, stop by the Front Porch Gallery for some unique holiday gifts guaranteed to delight. While visiting, be sure to view the current exhibit ... "Perspectives:The Berlin Wall" now on display through January 5, 2015.

The exhibit commemorates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and reflects through art an enduring moment of the 20th century. While born of a tragic history, it illuminates a peak in humanity. This exhibit showcases mixed media, photography and sculpture - including actual pieces of the wall - from international artists currently residing in San Diego and Los Angeles. Come, experience the transformative power of these works!

The Front Porch Gallery is located adjacent to Carlsbad By The Sea Retirement community at 2903 Carlsbad Blvd. in Carlsbad. Visit frontporchgallery.org for more information.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Upcoming Events from the CLH Center for Spirituality and Aging

by Nancy Gordon, Director California Lutheran Homes and Sunny View Centers for Spirituality and Aging, a Front Porch Partner

Today, just a few days before Christmas, I am struck by how thankful I am to be at the CLH Center for Spirituality and Aging involved in a variety of efforts to support those who care for older adults in nurturing and sustaining the spiritual dimension of the aging journey.

Our workshops this year focused on Alzheimer's disease, beginning with Jade Angelica and her workshop on "Meeting Alzheimer's," which offered some experiential improvisational exercises to hone our communication skills. In April Cordula Dick-Muehlke deepened our understanding of person-centered dementia care, stressing both the personal caregiving skills needed and the organizational setting that enables person-centered care to happen. And then this fall, Judith-Kate Friedman inspired us with her use of music to enhance the journey of aging with dementia for both caregiver and care receiver.

I've had the privilege of putting some of my thoughts in writing with the newsletter and on the web. For Alzheimer's Awareness month I wrote "Alzheimer's Caregivers - Create a New Lens, Explore the Opportunities" about creating a new outlook for responding to the disease that was published on Ask.com. Earlier in the year they also published "Touching Spirits" an article about the importance of spirituality in programming. Our director emeritus, Don Koepke, is in the final editing phase of a book, The Essential Spirit, which the Center is publishing next year. It was fun to write a chapter for that and to co-write the final chapter with Don. You'll be hearing more about it in 2015!

And there is more great stuff coming in 2015! In October we will be hosting the 6th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality in Los Angeles.


The Centers for Spirituality and Aging are excited to be hosting this event; it will be the first time it is held in the United States. Distinguished plenary speakers from around the world have been booked and proposals for workshops, seminars and posters will be received beginning in January. You can find at more about this conference at the conference website. And sign-up here to receive updates about the conference as it continues to take shape. And if you would like to help spread the word, here is flier that you can distribute far and wide!

And we have some great Center events coming up this next year as well, including the celebration of the Center's 15th anniversary next spring. See more information about these events below.


Vital Connections in Long-Term Care - February 19 & 26 

One of the spiritual issues of aging is keeping and creating connectedness with oneself, others, the wider world and the sacred or significant. That's why this practical, experiential workshop by the authors of Vital Connections in Long-Term Care is so important. They will emphasize the spirituality of relational connections in the aging process and provide practical ways of strengthening connections in the settings where care for the aging occurs.

Vital Connections in Cupertino, CA

Vital Connections in Anaheim, CA


Wingspread - March 25th  

As our population ages faith communities are seeing and will be seeing more and more of their members facing the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. This event offers the riches of presenters who are in Chicago for the American Society of Aging Conference to faith communities in the Chicagoland area.

Register now

California Lutheran Homes Turns 15! - April 13 & 14 

We're celebrating 15 years of service to the aging community with a two-day event, April 13 and April 14 at Walnut Village in Anaheim, CA. Day one will celebrate congregational ministry to the aging. On day two we feature Wendy Lustbader presenting a workshop titled, "Beyond Care: Exploring the Glorious Adventure of the Spirit." Wendy was one of the first presenters when the Center opened in 2000, and it's an honor to be able to have her come back. Stay tuned for more about this two-part event.

From all of this, I think you can see why I feel blest to be here now. It's a deep privilege to bring together so many people who love working with older adults and supporting their spiritual journey. May your year be blest with great joy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Playing Computer Games to Boost Aging Brains

By Sonya Collins, WebMD Health News

For more than 2 years, Jeanne Roach found a seat at an open computer terminal in the e-cafĂ© at the Villa Gardens retirement community in Pasadena, CA, and she did a “20-minute circuit workout” for her brain.

“You look at a series of pictures, then the pictures are removed, and you’re asked, ‘In which picture were the men wearing hats?’” says Roach, 88, a retired human resources specialist. “There are math problems – what we used to call ‘story problems’ when I was growing up. I happened to do pretty well with the word games, but not well with the math.”

The challenges, according to game-maker Dakim BrainFitness, are meant to exercise six mental skills: long-term memory, short-term memory, language, computation, critical thinking, and the perception of spatial relationships between objects (called visuospatial ability).

Read article in full at webmd.com

Monday, November 24, 2014


by Mika Miller, Director of Resident Services at Carlsbad By The Sea

Daily I come to a place VOID of Youth – I have gratitude 

Listen carefully, approach softly, minds without clarity – I have gratitude
Speak loudly - diminished hearing – I have gratitude 

Build relationships to counter doubt and fear - I have gratitude

Pace slowly for those – whose stamina is NOT – I have gratitude

And in this place of “VOID” I am surrounded by GRATITUDE

GRATITUDE that people have slowed down to enjoy life, friends, family, purpose

GRATITUDE that through lack of clarity we can connect in new ways

GRATITUDE that speaking clearly and loudly allows time and better recognition of the REAL conversation

GRATITUDE to be able to build relationships on TRUST and that through the “VOIDS” we have created a safer and larger space in which to connect.

GRATITUDE that going slowly for others gives a better perspective on truly living

GRATITUDE that in the “lack of” there is actually more; more understanding, more depth or experience; and for that I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Alzheimer's Caregivers - Create a New Lens, Explore the Opportunities

By Nancy Gordon, director of the California Lutheran Homes Center for Spirituality and Aging 

A frequently cited statistic is after the age of 50, the disease most feared is Alzheimer’s—more feared than cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
Explore the possibilities and opportunities for creative expression,
expansion of spirit, flourishing of relationships, the sharing of hope and joy.  
There is good reason for this fear. Alzheimer’s disease (and other causes of dementia) robs the sufferer of what seems most intrinsic to their selfhood: their ability to remember, to think and problem solve, and to hold up their end of the conversation. For those who love them, the confusion, the sometimes delusional thinking, and the blankness that comes over their faces is heartbreaking. We do seem to be losing them bit-by-bit, and we fear that someday we may lose ourselves in the same way...

Read article in full at About.com

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nourishing Memory and Brain Function

By Peggy Buchanan, director of fitness at Vista del Monte Retirement Community

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, five million Americans live with the disease with that number expected to triple by 2050. But the good news is, even though it’s the second most feared health condition after cancer, lifestyle choices make a difference in how the condition progresses because our brains have the ability to reorganize by forming new neural connections throughout life in a process called “neuroplasticity.” Here are a few lifestyle tips to digest for preventing and/or reversing cognitive decline.

Read article in full at bloomerboomer.com

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Exploring Music & Memory

What is a song you really enjoy, that energizes you and puts you in a good mood?  What is it about that song that has that type of affect on you?  Maybe these are songs to which you play while working out or when driving with the top down.  

I don’t like to dance but with a peppy song with a good beat my feet start tapping and my body may begin to sway, especially if it is one of my favorites like the musical Phantom of the Opera, songs by Michael Jackson or the Top Gun soundtrack.  As we know, music can provide focus.  Relaxing music slows down our breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. But music provides more than that; it can take us back in time and fill us with a wave of emotions.  

As the communications manager for Front Porch, a non-profit offering independent living, assisted living, memory care and care centers, a recent documentary about a therapy program called Music& Memory piqued my interest.

Social worker and educator Dan Cohen, a Baby Boomer, started Music & Memory in 2010 in New York based on a simple premise – how could he continue to enjoy his favorite music if and when he moved into a retirement community?  With his background in social work and computers, he decided to bring iPods to assisted living communities and care centers.  Working with the residents, families and staff, he created personalized playlists for each resident. The result was profound emotional experience for all involved.

In the documentary, Dan explained that the part of the brain that registers music is not usually affected by dementia/Alzheimer’s so it is like a “backdoor into the mind.”  Music provides a stimulus; it activates the areas of the brain that are affected by rhythm, such as, coordination and emotion.  As Dr. Oliver Sacks M.D, neurologist, said, “Music is not separable from emotion … and personal experience. So it is not just a physiological stimulus.  If it works at all, it will call the whole person and many different parts of their brain and the memories and emotions that go with that and this is why … it is so potent.”

The documentary demonstrated many awe inspiring transformations.  A resident named Gil, a military veteran, transformed from agitated to calm with a smile across his face when he started hearing one of his favorite songs.  He would even start singing along to the song.  Henry, a resident, who seemed closed-off and unresponsive, would become energized and passionate when music from his heyday would play.  He would share the joy music gave him and some memories of when he heard that music.  Music opened their worlds again.  It connected them to their true selves with only an iPod, headphones and a personalized playlist of songs that are significant to them.

I started thinking about how some songs have the ability to bring back a specific feeling or memory.  I recently heard “The Rainbow Connection” sung by Kermit the Frog and found myself singing along and feeling a wave of nostalgia.  Songs from the musical Paint Your Wagon bring me back to when my mom would play the tape in the car when I was a child.  It was one of her favorite musicals.  John Lennon’s “Imagine” always reminds me of when I sang it with my class during our eighth-grade graduation.  Some songs have a more negative affect.  Some songs I would not want on a personalized iPod, such as, “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin as I experience a wave of awkward teen experiences since it was always the last song played at our middle-school dances.  But even though “Mad World” by Michael Andrews is somber, I would want it added since I visualize the beautiful choreography I saw arranged to it.  Our lives, in a way, have their own individual soundtracks. 

At Front Porch we believe in the spirit of the individual and nurturing the mind, body and soul.  With the support of the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, I look forward to the Music & Memory program being brought to our memory support communities, which include our award-winning Summer House communities that serve those with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

What songs would you want on a personalized iPod to spur a wave of emotion and wonderful memories? — Michele Pomerance

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CARING Housing Ministries to Co‐Sponsor  Homebuilding Project led by Habitat for Humanity 

Artist's rendering of the completed Chestnut Homes project.
This summer, about 95 staff from Front Porch partner CARING Housing Ministries will co-sponsor a homebuilding project led by Habitat for Humanity of the San Gabriel Valley in Glendale, CA. This will be the first time staff from CARING Housing Ministries, which manages affordable housing communities in California and Arizona, will undertake a community benefit project of this scope as a team. You can READ MORE about this project here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Hero

We all have heroes. Some of our heroes are important people who have changed the world. Others are ordinary people who do extraordinary things or who have touched us in a special way in what they do, say or act. At front Porch many of our heroes are the residents we see and interact with each day.

Please visit the Front Porch web site “Videos” page and click on the My Hero videos or visit the Front Porch You Tube channel to hear and see what makes our heroes so special.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What is Humanly Possible?

In January, Front Porch sent out a rallying cry to its staff -- everyone from it's front line workers to it's management team. It came in the form of a groundbreaking new strategic approach to “innovation with a cause” and greater collaboration -- Humanly Possible.

“When describing what Humanly Possible is, it’s important to first describe what Humanly Possible is not,” said Kari Olson, chief innovation and technology officer for Front Porch. “It’s not a tag line, it’s not a short-term initiative, it’s not the latest fad. This is really something significant and profound that builds on the past history of Front Porch and the spirit of the people in it and is designed to take us to new levels of achievement.”

This bold and transformative commitment is an authentic expression of Front Porch’s passion to create new opportunities and forge new directions. It is an organization-wide focus for “disruptive innovation, strategic development and partnership.” 

Do you want to hear and see more? Visit the Front Porch web site and watch the What is Humanly Possible? video.