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