What is YOUR Life Story?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. November 2018

Think about it. Your story is only yours. It’s unique. No one else has the same life story as you. No two are alike!

I’d like to share this month’s unusual event.

The Lacey Senior Center invited me to be the presenter at their monthly Speakers Series. The manager asked me to discuss the 23 years of my life in my journey of when I was a nun and what happened when I left the convent and immediately trained to be a high fashion model.

In her phone call, Ms. Manager explained that my talk was to be “informative vs a primary sales pitch” for my Convent to Catwalk book. “You can have the book here and sell IF people request it after your talk. No problem.” She encouraged me saying that the seniors would love to hear excerpts of my stories.

Wow! How fun that would be! I was used to giving book reads & signings, but this would be different.

My opening remark usually explains that a catwalk is a modeling ramp for showing off fashions. I love the question-and-answer part during my presentations and always encourage the questions. “There’s no right or wrong question. Here’s your chance to find out what you’ve forever wanted to know about the nuns or high fashion modeling. If I don’t want to answer, I don’t want to answer.”

Naturally, I explain I don’t want to spoil the climax to the many stories, so I may give a soft hint of an answer. Invariably someone says, “I don’t want to hear the answer! It’s like knowing in advance ‘who done it’ when reading a mystery story.”

At Lacey Center, a woman posed, “Why did you write Convent to Catwalk?” Immediately, other attendees nodded wide-eyed.

My response? Actually, I answered with another question to everyone present to start a discussion. “That’s such a good question. Let’s list why you all think it was a good idea to write my story. I’ll give the first reason.”

I answered, “Why not? It’s my story, different from anyone else’s. I wouldn’t be here talking today if I hadn’t had the extreme contrast of the two life styles to write about.”

Toward the end of our hour, I summed up the reasons they offered which were true and my own added reasons:

  1. Years from now, some twig on our family tree will remark, “Oh, yeah! I heard we have an ancestor who was a nun, left the convent and was a model. Wonder what that was all about?”
  2. Even now my grandchildren (ages 11, 12 and 15) don’t know the mysterious, hilarious, traumatic, painful, emotional, near-death experiences I endured, how I handled them and how God helped me pull myself out of them.
  3. I don’t have expensive things to leave to my children and grandchildren. What I have they don’t want, except for my baby grand piano, and that will wear out and be forgotten that it was even mine.
  4. Without being preachy, I can leave them inspirational & positive ways to endure the ever-growing small and huge challenges they will experience in their lives.
  5. Most people won’t write a book as a legacy, but if we have a pencil and some three-holed paper or a simple computer, that’s all it takes…no fancy words, just writing as if we were telling our story to a friend…one story at a time.

The hour discussion with Lacey Center citizens was lively and fun, and too short!

So…what did you do that you tell your friends about when you reminisce about the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s…? What do they laugh or cry about with you?

Here at Panorama, I’ve heard loads of life stories and learn more every day. Those accounts should stay alive for their families and for history.

I thank our 100 year-old Charlotte W., who has held free Panorama Writing Your Life classes for about 14 years twice a month. With no constructive critiques, our goal was simply to write a 10-minute story at home and read in it class. We were eager to hear the next episode in each resident’s life! Charlotte also started a program of tape-recording life stories of residents in our Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center. The activity director sees that the stories are typed and put into a folder. What a gift for the family!

After about a year, I was encouraged to attend PanWriters weekly classes, for a small fee, with international playwright Bryan Willis. He has taught at Panorama since 1998. I’d leave the class with swollen encouragement to publish my stores for others. Because of Panorama, I self-printed in 2018. Convent to Catwalk is in its fifth printing in one year. I look forward to the many opportunities to book read & sign, where I am able to donate a portion of the proceeds to the church, organization, or club; thus, giving back to my community and to my God.

I’m thankful that Panorama offers the opportunity, encouragement, the time (freedom from house maintenance and repairs, yard, etc.) and even sells our books and crafts for us in our Gifts Etc. shop!

So, what is your story? Write it right!

A Resident’s Perspective – Keep Moving & Doing

Written by Panorama resident, Bob Bowers. March 2018

Since moving into my Quinault apartment in July of last year, I’ve changed my morning routine.  After a simple breakfast, I go to my glassed-in balcony and sit in my comfortable chair.

The first thing I do as I’m sitting there is size up what kind of day it’s going to be.  The tall Douglas fir trees across the street dwarf the houses and must be higher than the apartment house by quite a lot.  Their slender trunks stretch toward the sky.

I look at the sky and, since this is the Pacific Northwest, take notice of what is there.  Usually, it’s clouds…sometimes blowing lazily to the left pushed by warm air from California climes…other times scurrying to the right as if trying to avoid the cold air propelling them…and, sometimes hanging lazily in the sky barely moving.  I praise the creator if I see a clear sky and a slowly brightening red sunrise through the trees.

But—always there are the trees.  I reign in my gaze to focus on the trunks and the foliage.  It hangs high and droops down along the trunks and entwines itself with that of other trees, or reaches out to shake hands—as it may be.  At first glance I think to myself, “It’s a still morning—not a twig is moving.”  Then, as I watch I notice that the trees are moving.  The branches are catching the breeze and shaking and moving each other.  The whole tree is moving!  Even the tall trunk is swaying ever so slightly.

Actually, that’s the way we are on this campus.  The whole campus is moving and so are we…like the clouds in the sky and the trees across from my apartment.  There’s activity everywhere.  Panorama is an easy place to chase whatever is happening.  Most of us have more written on our “dance card” than we can possibly handle.   We take a few steps with one escort and then as the music changes to a new tune it’s time to dance with another.

I always have liked to keep moving.  Even as a little kid, I was moving all the time around the farm—seeing things.  And, that “doing” activity continued through seven decades of my life.  It’s been a great life, but lately I’ve rediscovered something that I remember knowing at one time—that it’s oftentimes fun to sit and watch others move and simply “be.”  Keep moving and doing but don’t be afraid to just “be.” Panorama has lots of time for that too!

Yoga & Breathing

Written by Panorama resident, Charles Kasler. February 2018

If there’s one thing people love about yoga, it’s the breathing! Along with all of our movement, classes are an hour-long breathing practice. It feels great! We all have dysfunctional breathing from habit, bad posture, stress, osteoporosis. Yoga helps normalize our breathing. It’s both calming and energizing, bringing us into balance.

Yoga breathing is at once a physical-health practice, a mental-health practice, and a meditation. It is not just breath training – it’s mind training using breath as a vehicle. It enhances our entire life. We tend to breathe quickly most of the time – 14 to 20 breaths per minute, which is about three times faster than the 5 or 6 breaths per minute proven to help us feel our best. Yoga slows and deepens breathing. There is a very direct relationship between breath rate, mood state, and autonomic nervous system.

Studies on meditation have demonstrated there is overall improvement in respiratory function from just meditation alone: “Vital capacity, tidal volume and breath holding were significantly higher in meditators than non-meditators.” Of course we have a weekly sitting meditation group as part of the overall yoga program at Panorama.

Aging and the Respiratory System

The respiratory system undergoes various anatomical, physiological and immunological changes as we age. The structural changes include chest wall and thoracic spine deformities (Dowager’s Hump, or kyphosis, and also scoliosis), which can impair the total respiratory system compliance, leading to increased work in breathing. The internal lung tissue loses its supporting structure, which can lead to the air spaces dilating and getting bigger than normal, resulting in “senile emphysema.” This reduces the ability of oxygen to get into the bloodstream (though not the ability of carbon dioxide to exit the blood stream and return to the lungs). Respiratory muscle strength decreases with age and can impair effective coughing, which is important for airway clearance of mucus and phlegm, and can increase the risk from respiratory infections.

Interestingly, the lung matures by age 20–25 years, and thereafter aging is associated with progressive decline in lung function, although gradual. So younger adults need to be mindful of this, as well as older adults. The airway’s nerve receptors undergo functional changes with age and are less likely to respond to drugs used in younger adults to treat the same disorders. Older adults have decreased sensation of shortness of breath and decreased breathing response to low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels, making them more vulnerable to lung failure during high-demand situations, such as heart failure or pneumonia, that may lead to prolonged illness and even death. – Baxter Bell, M.D.

Yoga has many potential beneficial effects on our respiratory system. Structurally, regular practice can address changes to the chest wall bones and the thoracic spine to improve the boney alignment of these structures via postural improvement and increased movement. Specific postures can be used to target problem areas. Yoga can also address the issue of weak muscles around the lungs and strengthen the muscles around the chest wall. You can actively challenge the diaphragm via extending the length of the inhalations and exhalations.

Regular yoga practice can also reveal unusual or unhealthy breathing patterns, such as excessive tension of the abdominal muscles during breathing. You can then work with your teacher to re-establish a healthier pattern of respiration.

Recent studies have shown some yoga tools are effective in improving lung function in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

And because yogic breathing exercises help to regulate the autonomic nervous system’s responses to stress, such as being able to dampen the sympathetic response (Fight or Flight), practicing yoga to improve respiratory function will have the added benefit of lowering overall stress, improving your sense of well-being, and even having positive effects on mental-emotional conditions, such as depression, anxiety and concentration, all of which can be present in those with breathing challenges. – Baxter Bell, M.D.

Improve your quality of life. Take advantage of the many therapeutic yoga classes and events at Panorama. Residents enjoyed the Winter Solstice gathering and the annual New Year’s Eve meditation. March events: Spring Meditation Retreat and Spring Equinox student gathering.

 

Do We Like Our Move to the Quinault?

Do We Like Our Move to the Quinault?
Written by Mary Jo Shaw, author of Convent to Catwalk

We loved our neighbors, our garden home on Woodland Court, and figured we’d be there a longer time. But, after six years, the time was now. Do we like our new apartment in the Quinault Building?

Although we miss our neighbors, we still are able to see them often. After all, we live only a few blocks away on our Panorama campus. We attend the same events in the large auditorium and Aquatic & Fitness Center, and we walk the Circle Loop on Tuesday evenings during the warm season with other residents for exercise and visiting.

Now, there’s no need to walk to the large Quinault building where I have always played weekly in Assisted Living and where Chris and I attend many events in the smaller auditorium. I take art, weekly Bible, and other classes there. I’m one floor up from Monday Catholic services…reading often and playing piano.  Exercise rooms/classes are on lower level, close to where Chris enjoys the coffee room, movies, and newspaper. I use the Resident Council office and business area where all residents are welcome to run off copies. That same office has a laminating machine, latest computers and other office advantages, always with an expert to help us! I itch as I pass the Weaving Room, Wood & Metal Shop, and the closed-circuit TV studio, also available in the lower level. I can’t wait to participate in those opportunities.

Metal Shop

Woodshop

In the adjoining Panorama Hall building, we have banks and the gift shop where I consign my crafts and books almost daily (and pick up my check once a month)! We also have the convenience of the beauty salons, and the pharmacy with its last minute stop-n-go type foods and necessities. The community living room with a large fireplace offers the activity desk where we can sign up for events; it also features sofas, tables, and the friendly Executive and Lifestyle Enrichment offices. Chris reads and visits there faithfully.

Panorama Hall

Then the best part! Every time we walk out of our fifth floor apartment, we are greeting friends. If time, we visit or search for puzzle pieces together in the many areas with large windows. We are closer to the Seventeen51 Restaurant & Bistro where we can relish the unusually cordial atmosphere of residents for many organized brunches, luncheons, and dinners. We love impromptu meals, or as an arranged date! What fun to invite other residents to join us and chat as long as we please.

To do all of this indoors, we simply walk the steps or elevator ourselves from our small apartment with the latest flooring, kitchen and bath upgrades, granite counters, light fixtures, and cabinets-and-pantry pull-outs. We have plenty of storage and a nice-sized family room with huge wall-to-wall windows that display our small balcony with patio furniture.

We are able to attend the over 100 published monthly activities on our campus, but now we have the additional Quinault Activity calendar of events planned by our #1 manager, Dodie. Her energy and planned get-togethers and parties include her homemade cookies, huge bowls of homemade foods, including, potato or bean salads, meatballs and spaghetti, pigs in the blankets, apple streusel, campus Bistro brunches, games, planned off-campus trips to restaurants…etc.

Our Resident Council on-campus transit is still available for our use. Panorama provides the late model vans with volunteer dispatchers, drivers, and maintenance.

Then there is the adjoining Convalescent and Rehabilitation building where I play piano in three areas regularly, including a Christian service monthly on Saturdays. I play in the building’s entrance on a beautiful grand Yamaha piano often. Must I continue?

No, we don’t like our move to the Quinault…we love it! Aware of new reasons daily, we thank and praise God for the many blessings for our new home, its friends and advantages.

December 23rd, 2017

December 23rd, 2017…two days before Christmas, a momentous marker for me because my wife and I moved into our first home at Panorama on December 22nd.  Moving here was quite a change from Alaska, our previous home for thirty-three years.  We’d seen monumental growth in Alaska over the years.  We were witnesses to that growth and participants in Alaska’s development in our occupations there.

The reason we moved to Panorama was because it had promise to supply our felt need for security in retirement that would follow us whatever our situation might be.  We were not disappointed.  My wife died 5 years ago after years of discomfort, disability and pain. She was cared for by me and, when my energy flagged, by Panorama’s Convalescent and Rehabilitation staff (Skilled Nursing) to whom I will always be grateful.

After I was alone, I continued to be happy with my situation although it was constantly evolving, like a Christmas tree with slender fiberglass hairs that project tiny points of light in many colors.

Today, bright sunlight lights my eastward fronting apartment that sports a glass enclosed balcony.  The sight is magnificent from my 4th floor one-bedroom suite!  Bright sun…majestic spruce and fir trees…houses scattered around McGandy Park…blue sky—all better than yesterday’s rain.

I’ll celebrate quietly in my own way, aware that I am only one of over a thousand on this campus whose needs are being met in one way or another—and maybe I’ll find someone today or tomorrow who has a need I can meet.  MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY 2018!

The Deciduous Season

Panorama campus October 2017

We all know people who travel east to enjoy the fall colors. The previous blog included Neil Harris’ photos of our outstanding range of color displayed all around campus. We are wending our way through November with Thanksgiving around the corner and even the windy rainstorm a few days ago didn’t totally divest the trees of their astonishing array of vibrant colors. Big Leaf Maples are wonderful yellow and there is one on Cardinal Lane. Having walked through forests in Olympia with the organized walking group, I am always amazed at the size of those maple leaves!!!

There is something bracing about a cool wind with the smell of leaves down and plants tucking themselves in for approaching winter. Some of us will bake turkeys, some will enjoy Seventeen51 Restaurant and Bistro’s Thanksgiving dinner, and others will band together and sample food aplenty in our surrounding area.

Our campus is now presenting a challenge to our grounds crew. They have just taken down the whimsical outdoor drive-in theater display featuring “Pumpkin-zilla” playing there. That crew is wonderfully imaginative in doing these displays. They always bring smiles and much comment as we discover hidden additions to the theme.

2017 Pumpkin Display created by Panorama’s Grounds Crew

There is another thing that must drive the Grounds crew crazy in this season. All of the deciduous trees do not drop leaves within a given time frame, of a week, two weeks, whatever. They simply shed leaves in their own rhythm. The firs are always dropping needles, we know. But this season of wind and rain produce such a raining down of needles that it is hard for the Grounds crew to keep up.

At the recent Resident Council-sponsored meetings of all residential units on campus, we heard from our Chief of Operations about the strain put on the Grounds crew in all the neighborhoods. The goal is to keep roadways and walkways free of perhaps slippery, dying leaves and to keep our homes looking pleasing.  Maintaining our grassy areas relies on downed leaves not killing the sod. There is another reason to manage the dying bits of biomass. The needles will clog downspouts and result in backed up water, leaks, and higher maintenance. Those of us living under Douglas firs know how many needles are flying about us at all times of the year, but especially now in the fall season. We love those trees and wouldn’t trade them for anything.

However, they do all add to ambient noise in our neighborhoods. In my mind, this comes with the territory. Not in the minds of our two furry tabby cats. They have become inured to the blowers on our front walk way, driveway, and patio. What they have trouble with is the sound walking on the roofs make and blowing off those accumulated needles. Each has found a dark place to hide until the workers have moved on to the next roof.

We all know of or heard the grousing about leaf blowers, day in and day out…but the cost of time and work with rakes instead of blowers would increase the budget for maintenance tremendously. We have come to just turn up the radio or TV volume as we go about our in-house tasks…and are thankful that it isn’t us having to do this awful and repetitive job!!! We walk everywhere on campus and appreciate that walk-ways are kept safe and clear. We, along with everyone else I am sure, enjoy the weekends when the Grounds crew have time off unless there is a weather event that undermines that. Let’s all enjoy the quiet on the weekends and revel in the wonderful color that we enjoy here!

We want to present ourselves the very best we can, looking to our future population choosing us as a retirement community. Panorama is doing a fine job of keeping us trimmed up under trying conditions. So, let’s all give the guys and gals a nod of thanks and just know that soon the blowers will abate.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and these wonderful colors so very close to home.

Sandra Bush
November, 2017

Welcoming Change with Open Arms

It’s time to write something for the blog again.  I haven’t written for months.  The reason is that I have been trying to handle the changes in my life.  Most of us have experienced a bunch of change in our lives if we have lived for any time at all.  Bryan Willis, the guru of our writing group, Panwriters, recently gave us an assignment to list all the homes in which we have lived from birth to the present time.  Then we were to write about the smallest one of those homes.

I began listing homes.  I went into quite a reverie about where I had lived. I compiled a list of 45 different homes in the 82 and one-half years of my life.  In the past two months I moved into home 45—the 5th home I have occupied in Panorama’s complex.  For each one of those 45 homes a change has occurred in my life—some of them major changes.  Change is one of the facts of life that every one of us who live in Panorama must face.  We are seasoned changers.  We expect to change.  We know that coming to Panorama or any other retirement community isn’t going to suddenly stop change.  In fact, we call this a Continuing Care Retirement Community, and that means that if we change, the community still has a place for us and will continue to guide and support us.

So, I have been dealing with change in my life and writing for the blog was set aside for a time.  In December, my companion with whom I was living began to have some health problems.  Our agreement was that we would live together in her home, but, since both of us had cared for a period of time for a spouse who subsequently died, we would not take on the task of caregiving for each other.  I didn’t want to burden her with my care nor did she want me to be burdened with her care.  For several years we had a very meaningful relationship with each other that filled our lives with caring and love.  We did some traveling, attended lots of concerts, visited each other’s family members, and supported each other in our own little life interests and projects.

Her health began to worsen and she moved into the Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center to receive the care she needed.  I remained at our home.  But, I was cared for, as well.  I realized that she would not be coming back to live with me.  Her health was too fragile and deteriorating.  I visited with Panorama’s leadership team of social workers and those in charge of housing and we came up with a solution to meeting my own need.  I agreed to take an apartment in the Quinault building.

Then, I faced the task of packing my possessions and moving them to my new apartment.  Again, Panorama and I worked together to accomplish the move by July 1st.  I am now comfortable in my new apartment.  Unfortunately, my companion died the day after July 4th.  Her family was provided guidance and help to accomplish vacating her home.  The other day, I happened to walk through the area and saw the evidence and heard the sound of working that indicated the home was being prepared for the next occupant(s).

And, here I am writing for the blog again.  Declining health of a companion, changing relationships, moving to a new apartment, and making plans to live alone again aren’t easy things to accomplish.  Each one of them has its own degree of pain.  But change is a fact of life and beyond the change is more life.  We don’t necessarily welcome change with open arms, but, with help and compassion, change brings new life and we go on.

The Panorama Yoga Team & Embracing Life

Written by Panorama resident and Yoga Instructor, Charles Kasler. August 2016

Embracing LifeOn June 9th the Yoga Team presented to a full house for the daylong Embracing Life Conference at Panorama. Our topic of course, was how yoga and meditation embrace the moment as well as support end of life. Many people don’t realize this is the main purpose of yoga/meditation – attuning to the present with an open heart and quiet mind. It reduces stress and brings equanimity. And it connects us to a greater Presence – something universal that is beyond the personal.  

Yoga in the parkWe divided the participants up for yoga in the park, chair yoga, and restorative yoga. There was a very positive response and people were refreshed and ready for their next workshop. It also gave them a preview of our program at Panorama that continues year after year. 

On June 20 we gathered in the pea patch in a vigil for the last hour of light on the longest day of the year – an annual event for our yoga program. As an extra treat, we saw a double rainbow. 

rainbowOn Aug 27, I taught a free workshop on diet – an essential part of the yoga lifestyle. This was the next in our ongoing workshop series – Living Well With Yoga. 

Our next social gathering will be at Fall Equinox for high tea. We often bond deeply in our shared experience of yoga and meditation – a silent support group. Social gatherings give us a chance to visit, enjoy each other’s company and deepen friendships.  

On October 22 we will continue the yearlong Embracing Life theme with the fall mindfulness retreat – Embracing Life Mindfully. Except for 2 short dharma talks, we will spend the entire time practicing in silence for a direct experience of meditation, embracing the present.

the yoga team

The Panorama Yoga Team of resident instructors – Charles, Jean, and Connie.

 

 

Alternative Therapies: Complementary & Integrative Medicine

Written by Panorama staff. July 2016

Embracing LifeThis collaborated event by Embracing Life and Social Services was a forum made up of six experts of different backgrounds, practices and fields. The purpose of this forum was to discuss complementary and integrative medicine, but what do those mean? Complementary medicine is when an individual uses non-mainstream medicines alongside conventional medicines. When non-mainstream medicine is used in place of conventional medicines, it is considered alternative. Integrative medicine combines both approaches in a coordinated way. The forum experts all spoke on different types of medicine or medical treatments that can be used as complementary or integrative medicine.

The members of the forum were Connie Ruhl, Michelle Bilodeau, Sonia Telesco, Kelly Golob, Tom Griffith, and Pamela Firth.

Connie is a retired Speech & Language Pathologist, as well as a certified yoga instructor. She discussed meditation and started with having the audience do a short meditation exercise. She explained that the purpose of meditation is to awaken us and provide clarity and personal renewal. Meditation is readily available to anyone and is adaptable to everyday life. Through meditation, we can learn the art of detangling our minds, learn skills of calmness and be at peace with oneself.

Michelle has a Master’s degree in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine and is the President/Founder of Hilltop Eastern Medicine Associates. She discussed Eastern medicine, namely acupuncture & herbal medicine. She stated that Eastern medicine considers the body to be like a garden, that all body parts are interconnected. There are different types of treatments in Eastern medicine, like meditation and Qi Gong, but acupuncture and herbal medicine are the most commonly known. Acupuncture, from an Eastern medical perspective, can help balance symptoms that occur from imbalances and complex energetic systems inside our bodies. When balance is restored, these symptoms diminish and, over time, disappear. From a Western scientific perspective, acupuncture can help reduce inflammation in the body, modulate the immune system, balance neurotransmitters in the brain, increase circulation and oxygen levels and many others.

Sonia is a massage therapist who specializes in providing medical massage for injury treatment and rehabilitation, as well as relaxation massage for stress reduction and wellness. While she emphasized that massage therapy is not a cure, it can help promote comfort and care. Massage therapy is an approach to hands-on comfort and is a tool used to assist the body in its own healing process. It is also a method of manipulating muscles and tissues, creating greater blood flow, calming nervous systems and reducing stress.

Kelly is a chiropractor who combines traditional chiropractic methods with contemporary sports medicine. His main focus when treating a patient is to discover why the patient’s pain or medical issue is happening. By helping you learn and understand your body more, chiropractors can more easily get to the cause of your body problems. Kelly states that his goal is to help his patients stay active and help them continue doing what they love to do.

Tom is a licensed primary care naturopathic physician. Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is an alternative medicine that uses a wide array of “natural” modalities, including homeopathy, herbalism, and acupuncture, as well as diet and lifestyle counseling. Tom emphasized that we need to learn how to listen to our bodies. He stated that there are four practices of naturopathy:

  1. Do no harm to the patient
  2. Treat the cause of the disease
  3. Treat the whole person
  4. Know that the body wants to heal

Naturopathy is based on the idea of self-healing. With this in mind, Tom states that the goal is to empower patients to take care of themselves and allow them to make their own choices. Physicians are simply there to guide choices.

Pamela is an occupational therapist and a certified Jin Shin Jyutsu instructor and practitioner. Jin Shin Jyutsu translates to “art of the creator through man of knowing and compassion”. It is a mechanical technique that allows us to harmonize and balance ourselves by using our hands along 26 sets of energy lock points on our bodies. According to the Jin Shin Jyutsu website, it is “an art of harmonizing the life energy in the body” by releasing tensions that are the causes of various symptoms in our bodies. According to Pam, our bodies are made up of energy pathways that feed life and energy internally. When one or more of these paths get blocked, it can cause discomfort or pain and will continue to disharmonize the other energy paths. Using this style of acupressure, you can experience physical, mental, cognitive, and spiritual harmony and restore balance to your body.

The take away from these informative presentations is there are many treatments and techniques to explore, whether complementary, integrative, or conventional. Only you can know what your body is experiencing and feeling. It is important to search for what fits you and to advocate for yourself in order to embrace your life to the fullest.

Embracing Life presents “Five Wishes”

Written by Panorama staff. June 2016

Embracing LifeWhen first arriving to this particular session, I was unsure what to expect out of Five Wishes. The only information I had was the event description which states, “Five Wishes is an easy-to-use legal document written in everyday language that lets adults of all ages plan how they want to be cared for in case they become seriously ill. It is unique because it speaks to all needs: medical, personal, emotional and spiritual. Five Wishes also helps structure discussions with your family and physician.” It was assumed that this was going to just be a discussion of how to fill out this legal document. Instead, it was an uplifting, enlightening, and helpful discussion that allowed everyone to take something away from it.

Carol Johnson was the facilitator for this Embracing Life session. She is a health care counselor and handles end-of-life issues. Her light humor and relaxed persona helped make the atmosphere less negative and depressing. It was more than just a lecture about how to legally fill out this document; it was a discussion in how to ensure that everyone’s end-of-life wishes were fulfilled.

Carol started off by asking the audience why they came today to learn about Five Wishes. The following responses were:

  • Doing it for children, spouse, loved ones, etc.
  • Ease my mind
  • Love for my family
  • To create ease for family & loved ones

In essence, according to Carol, everyone was there to “get their ducks in a row”, to further ensure that their wishes were heard and fulfilled. She then had everyone state how they felt dealing with end-of life issues. The following feelings were stated:

  • Scary
  • Stressful
  • Depressing
  • Sad
  • Sensible
  • Frustrating
  • Accomplishing

While most of the feelings were negative, there were a few that felt discussing and dealing with end-of-life issues enabled them to be furthered prepared for the future. Carol then went through the entire Five Wishes document and what it entails. The main purpose of this legal document is to list how you want to be treated when you are seriously ill. It gives you the tools to help you talk to friends, family and doctors, so that they will know exactly what you want. The document allows you to make the following decisions and choices:

  • Who you want to make healthcare decisions for you
  • Where you want to die
  • Life support decisions
  • Wishes for your loved ones to know
  • How you want to be treated
  • How you want to be remembered

These are just a few of the topics and choices that you can make in the document. The ideal part about Five Wishes is that all the decisions are in one document.

By the end of the discussion, those initial negative feelings concerning end-of-life were lessened. Carol made the discussion fun and entertaining, showing the audience that end-of-life discussions do not need to be scary and depressing. Regardless of age, knowing how you want to spend your end-of-life is important. Although it is hard to discuss such a heavy topic with family and loved ones, it will create ease for them when they have to make those decisions for you. Ensuring that your wishes are heard and fulfilled is important and will truly enable you to “embrace your life” until the very end.

 

Embracing Life presents: Life’s Third Act

Written by Panorama staff. June 2016

Embracing LifeThis Embracing Life session was a combination of TED talk, Life’s Third Act, and an audience discussion. The TED Talk, given by Jane Fonda, re-examined the old metaphor for aging and people’s new life expectancy. People today are living on average 34 years longer than their great-grandparents. This extra time is what Fonda calls “the third act.” Before, age was seen as an arch: you’re born, you peak at midlife and then you die. However, with these extra three decades, Fonda suggests a new metaphor for aging. Instead of a peak-decline arch, she states that aging is like a staircase. Aging, in her words, is “the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness, and authenticity.” This additional act gives us extra time to ascend upward, to reflect and free ourselves from the past, review our life, and better our quality of life.

After the short TED talk, the audience was broken into small groups and asked to discuss a number of questions. The first question was regarding the old metaphor of age being like an arch. The groups were asked the following questions:

  • What were your role models for “old age”?
  • Who were the old people in your youth?
  • What were they doing with their time?
  • What was “retirement” for them?

After several minutes of discussing, there was a large consensus among the audience. Many in their youth saw old people working hard and never experiencing retirement. Old people had to live with their children or grandchildren as they were unable to live on their own comfortably. Nobody retired and working until the day you died was accepted.

The next questions discussed the extra 30 years that have been added to our life expectancy. The questions were:

  • How can we re-imagine this new phase of our lives from a decline into a developmental stage of life with its own significance?
  • How do we use this time?
  • How do we live it successfully?

There were a large variety of answers from the audience. Some wanted to use the time for self care, especially since there are more options and resources that offer self care nowadays. Some wanted to use the time to help others and contribute to the world. Others wanted to use it for self reflection, strive to make their third act successful, and develop wisdom around reflection. The groups discussed what was important for them to embrace in their third act. Whether that is staying in touch with friends, enjoying the things you love, furthering relationships or enriching the world, this new additional act allows more time to embrace our lives.

Jane Fonda quoted a German psychiatrist in her talk, Viktor Frankl, who spent five years in a Nazi concentration camp. He wrote this while he was in the camp: “Everything you have in life can be taken from you except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. This is what determines the quality of life we’ve lived – not whether we’ve been rich or poor, famous or unknown, healthy or suffering. What determines our quality of life is how we relate to those realities, what kind of meaning we assign them, what kind of attitude we cling to about them, what state of mind we allow them to trigger.” As we become older and gain more time, we gain the ability and chance to learn more about ourselves. We learn to embrace ourselves, our freedom, our spirit, and our bodies. By reflecting on our life experiences, we can become wiser and become whole. With this extra time, we gain the chance to enjoy the things and people we love, gain wisdom, embrace our new additional time and continue to ascend with into our age potential.

Music & Parkinson’s – An Embracing Life Session

Written by Panorama staff. May 2016

The monthly meeting of the support group, Living with Parkinson’s, was a bit different Embracing Lifethis month. Embracing Life brought on choir director and voice teacher, Troy Fisher, for this May meeting. The purpose of this session was to give people with Parkinson’s a safe place to work on activities to help strengthen their voices and express themselves freely. If I could use just one word to describe this particular meeting, it would be “fun.”

Troy had the class start with breathing exercises, inhaling deep breaths and releasing. As the group moved onto tongue and humming exercises, Troy actively engaged with the group. His lively and energetic personality made these normal exercises more entertaining and enjoyable. Then, the real fun began.

Troy had the class sing “Getting to Know You” from the King and I. Each receiving a paper copy of lyrics, the group sung along with Troy. They sang the song several times, working on singing it by memory or increasing their singing volume. Volume was an important topic to this group. Nearly everyone who has Parkinson’s experiences a soft and hoarse voice, making their speech hard to understand and hindering their communication abilities. Troy commented that when a person loses their volume from a disease like Parkinson’s, your pitch tends to lessen, causing a softer and lower voice. He said that if you want volume, you up your pitch, even if it means just going up an octave. He used one particular exercise with volume. He had each group member say their name normally. Then, he had them say their names again, upping their pitch just a bit. The change in volume was drastic! Even if a person feels like they’re yelling, knowing they have the capability to communicate is worth it.

The group and Troy spent the rest of the session singing other songs and doing some dance movements. Troy’s engagement with the group brought out more laughter, smiles and energy at the end than in the beginning of the session. He left the group with a great message that can apply to everyone. He stated that everybody can sing and should sing; everyone should experience the joy of participating and not just listening. By giving the group tools to improve their speech and communication ability, Troy was able to give the group the chance to gain a better quality of life.

Palliative Care: What Is It? – An Embracing Life Session

Written by Panorama staff. May 2016

This Embracing Life session was facilitated by Julie Ostling, RN & BSN of Assured Embracing LifeHospice. Many people hear about hospice care, but what is palliative care? Julie had the answers, but first, she wanted to hear from the audience. She started off by asking the audience what questions they had to ensure she covered them during her presentations. Some questions or topics were:

  • Palliative care at Panorama
  • Palliative care vs. hospice care
  • Different types of palliative care that are available

Julie supplied the audience with a packet of information, all of which she covered during her presentation. She initiated it by stating that palliative care is a relatively new concept and is available locally. Palliative care is meant to help relieve suffering and improve quality of life for people at any stage in a serious illness, whether that illness is curable, chronic or life-threatening. Palliative care focuses on comfort and management of symptoms, including physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms. But how is hospice care different? While palliative care helps people at any stage of a disease, hospice care is a specific type of palliative care for people who likely have 6 months of less to live. Julie emphasized this particular statement: “Hospice care is palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice care.”

Another part of palliative care is that it helps increase comfort for the patient and the family by lessening pain and stress and controlling symptoms. When it comes to different types or forms of palliative care, Julie states that every form of palliative care is different, depending on the illness, person and/or situation. There is no specific type or form of care.

There are many forms of palliative care in the community. Ten years ago, St. Peter’s Hospital started an in-patient palliative care that consists of MD’s, ARNP’s, RN’s and Social Service support. There is also outpatient palliative care at Group Health Clinic & Providence Community Palliative Care. Home setting palliative care is possible, but an individual must meet Home Health criteria for homebound status. As far as palliative care at Panorama, depending on your situation, you can seek palliative care from the many sources in the community.

Julie’s presentation was informative and resourceful. She referred the audience to multiple sources that can provide a form of palliative care or offer information. After her presentation, the audience discussed the “Death with Dignity” law and how palliative care is being used more often.

Going hand-in-hand with the “Embracing Life” theme, palliative care is a wonderful choice for people who need help with physical, psychological, social or spiritual distress as a result of illness treatment. Seek out the sources in your community and have the conversation with your physician. You’ll never know what is out there unless you look or ask!

Intergenerational Forum – On Life and Issues of Death & Dying

Intergenerational Forum at PanoramaWritten by Panorama staff. May 2016

“Do you remember thinking about death when you were younger? Or even thinking about aging for that matter?

As we age, our perception of life and thoughts about death change but is it something we can talk about? How do we bring it up with our kids or grandkids? These are some of the questions we’re exploring with our year long Embracing Life program.

One concern of vital importance for each of us is communicating to our loved ones how we want our lives to go on as we age and what a good death looks like to each of us as individuals. If there comes a time when we need their support at the end of life or if they need to make decisions on our behalf, we can feel more confident knowing our wishes are understood.

In exploration of this, we hosted an Intergenerational Forum which included a panel of 4 High School Seniors and 4 Seniors Who Once Were in High School. The four high school seniors joined us from Timberline, South Sound, Riveridge, and North Thurston high schools, while the four “young but not as young” seniors were all Panorama residents. Questions were posed to each age group and surprisingly, we found more commonalities than differences.

1) What is old?

High School Seniors:

“Old is not a number; it’s how mature you are.”

“Old isn’t necessarily a thing you have to be; it’s all about mentality.”

“The older you get, the more you mature as a person; it’s about how you grow.”

Panorama Seniors:

“Being old is a privilege; you can really appreciate the wonderful things around you and let go of the petty things.”

“I’ve enjoyed every era of life.”

2) What do you want your life story to be? How will you “Embrace Life”?

High School Seniors:

“I want to do the most I can to help people; I want to be remembered as a good person.”

“I want to know that other people enjoyed life because of my presence.”

“I want to know that I built something good. It’s so easy to tear apart but I want to know that I built.”

“I think about how I want to feel at the end. On my death bed, what will I wish I did more of? Top of the list, for me,  is time with family.”

Panorama Seniors:

“Are we making a difference? That’s something I’ve come to think about every single day as I’ve gotten older.”

“My mother always said ‘To make life worth something you must live with as much joy as you can.’ and that’s something I’ve tried to live by.”

3) Do youth today have respect for seniors like the generation before them did?

High School Seniors:

“Lack of respect comes from lack of empathy.”

“We just have to understand that we’re not different; we were just born at different times.”

“We have to know that one day we have the option to be what they are.”

“Contact is crucial to find common ground – to work together to grow the community as a whole.”

“{If intergenerational communication was more common} kids wouldn’t be so scared of growing up.”

Panorama Seniors:

“Each generation thinks the next generation is not as good as they were. But maybe they could be better. It varies from person to person.”

“Lack of intergenerational communication contact creates a lack of understanding and respect. Communication bridges that.”

“{My wife and I}…participate in Road Scholar and have had the opportunity to see our grandkids interact with kids their age in a positive way – that helps provide perspective for us.”

“I must be the only 80+ person playing online Playstation but I get to interact with multiple generations in the game and we talk generally about everything together.”

“We have so much in common – if only we just talk to each other.”

4) Do you talk about death and dying?

High School Seniors:

“We do talk about it but in the way of living your life.”

“I don’t really think about death. I don’t want to think about it. I want to have a life where I know I built something bigger than death – I built life.”

“A lot of younger people don’t think about their actions now; they don’t think ahead to the legacy they will leave behind.”

Panorama Seniors:

“I look forward to the time when I can speak openly with my family {about death} & we can express our love.”

“We’ve dealt with the administrative issues {of death} but not the deep stuff, such as what we want our legacy to be.”

“When you’re really young, you just don’t relate to it. When we get older, we think much more about the manner of death we want.”

“The difficulty is family members struggle with hearing us talk about it and hearing our wishes.”

“Many times, grandchildren can talk to grandparents easier than they can with their parents. It’s a good thing to talk to grandparents.”

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Register online for our Embracing Life Conference (June 9th) for an opportunity to learn about how to talk to your loved ones about your legacy and your wishes.

To read about last year’s  Intergenerational Forum visit this post.

Embracing Life Discussion – A Physician’s Perspective

Embracing Life - 3The third discussion of the yearlong initiative, “Embracing Life”, was led by Dr. David Fairbook. With a physician background, he led a discussion from this standpoint, discussing chapter 7 of Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal. The chapter focuses on hard conversations, mortality, and medical choices. Making plans and communicating them are vital to ensure that we get what we want at the end of life, especially when we are unable to speak for ourselves. Dr. Fairbrook discussed cases of patients and the differences between communication and medical choices. At the end, he presented residents with key questions to think about:

  1. What do you really understand about your illness?

  2. What are your biggest fears and concerns?

  3. What goals and hopes do you wish for?

  4. What trade-offs are you willing to undertake?

Although we desire full details from doctors and physicians and expect to have important life changes discussed with us, communicating our questions, wants, and fears to our doctors is just as important. We expect doctors to share this information, but we are just as responsible for asking those hard questions. It is important to make plans and discuss those plans with loved ones and relatives. We may face a day where we are unable to communicate what we want and have to leave it up to others to make those hard choices. Asking those hard questions and discussing those difficult topics with ensure that we get what we want at the end and are thoroughly prepared for the end of life.