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A newsletter from the
California Lutheran Homes and Sunny View
Centers for Spirituality and Aging
Late Year Reflections
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  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.  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.
Plan now to attend this conference!

 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!
Upcoming Center Events

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. Topics addressed are:
  • Recognizing and expanding of resources present in a home to meet the spiritual needs of both caregivers and care receivers.
  • Managing transitions as lives and needs change in ways that foster and sustain meaningful connections.
  • Meeting the diverse needs of staff through innovative programming and acknowledging their individual gifts.
  • Discovering how the arts foster inner connections and bring vitality to culturally diverse communities.
  • Exploring a vision for how supporting spirituality in caring for the aging transforms lives and communities of care.
Our three presenters, Julie Barton (MA, Counseling Psychology), Ron Zielske (MDiv) and Marita Grudzen (MHS) are the joint authors of Vital Connections in Long-Term Care: Spiritual Resources for Staff and Residents (Health Professions Press, 2003). They have collaborated for over twenty-five years in teaching at Santa Clara University, the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley), and at professional conferences. Julie is a founder of a respite care program and teacher of poetry to the aging; Ron is an ordained Lutheran pastor and served as CEO of Sunny View Retirement Community; Marita is Deputy Director of the Stanford Geriatric Education Center.

This workshop will be offered on Thursday, February 19, 2015, at Sunny View Retirement Community in Cupertino and on Thursday, February 26, 2015, at Walnut Village in Anaheim.  Register now using the links below!

Mark Your Calendars for the CLH Center's 15th Birthday!
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.
A Spirituality and Aging Event in Chicago--March 25, 2015
Wingspread is an event that brings the expertise of presenters at the annual Aging in America conference to practitioners in the community. 

Running from 4:00 - 9:00 p.m. at Fourth Presbyterian Church, the first part of the program will feature the Rev. John and Susan McFadden, PhD, co-authors of Aging Together: Dementia, Friendship and Flourishing Communities. They will examine our cultural narratives of fear and anxiety around dementia, and propose a new story that congregations can live out: a story based on providing vital connections and community for all our members, not based on cognitive ability but on creative programs and services that support the flourishing of all in our community, including those with dementia and their care-partners.


After a chance for networking, seeing the resources of the exhibitors while enjoying a light supper, we will be privileged to see the play, The Forgetting and the Forgiving. This play explores the story of two siblings, coming with different experiences with their mother, as they seek to care for her as Alzheimer's disease impacts all their lives. There is humor, music, some teaching moments, and transformation as the siblings walk this path. The playwright is the Rev. Dr. Jade Angelica, who has also authored, Where Two Worlds Touch: A Spiritual Journey through Alzheimer's Disease.


If you live in Chicago or you have connections with folks who live in Chicago, please help us spread the word.  And if you're participating in the AiA conference, you are invited to come to the evening performance of the play.  You can register for the whole event or just the play using the link below. 


Wingspread in Chicago, March 25, 2015 


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.

Many, many blessings!

Nancy Gordon, Director
California Lutheran Homes and Sunny View Centers for Spirituality and Aging


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Nancy Gordon, Director
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