A Family Caregiver’s Journey with Meet and Move

Cyndi Mariner is a long-time resident of Sunnyvale and a family caregiver. In this blog post, she shares her experience as a participant and Program Coordinator of the Meet and Move program for family caregivers, sponsored by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and El Camino Hospital.

In the spring of 2014, I was living with and caring for my brother, who suffered from heart problems, and my 84-year-old mother who had suffered from arthritis. She had just been released from the hospital and rehab after a serious case of pneumonia. I was an overwhelmed, stressed out family caregiver who was not taking care of herself. I happened to glance at a local paper, not something I usually do, and saw an ad for a program called Meet & Move. Little did I know, taking the step to attend the informational session would lead to big changes for my life. I joined the group and after just three months, I realized the difference the program was making in my life. I started taking care of myself by exercising more and making new connections. I started “breathing” again, allowing myself to better care for my loved ones. Continue reading

linkAges Advocates complete spring internship!

After a six-month internship period, our latest group of linkAges Advocates concluded their internship at the David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation (the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s innovation center) in June.

The Innovation Center welcomed these four linkAges Advocates, in January 2015 and they were selected for their passion and interest to support healthy aging in the community.

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From left to right: Stefanie Kong, Elena Haight, Dominic Boccaccio (Advocates Program Coordinator), Margret Mendenhall and Stacey Urauchi

Though all four Advocates attended Santa Clara University, they had different reasons for wanting to join the linkAges team:

Stefanie Kong’s close relationship with her grandmother helped her realize the importance of social connections in promoting a high quality of life for older adults. She saw the internship as an opportunity for an “infusion of youth” into the lives of seniors, and vice versa.

Elena Haight understood the role of mental health in overall well-being, and wanted to explore a more holistic view of health outside of the clinic.

Margret Mendenhall wanted to play an active role in the expansion of resources for aging baby boomers, leveraging technology to bring families closer together.

As a public health major, Stacey Urauchi learned about the booming senior population and saw this as an opportune time to get involved as healthcare evolves and shifts.

At the start of their internship, they went through an intensive two-day training session. Training modules ranged from motivational interviewing, to program logistics, with in-depth preparation for situations around privacy, effective communication with seniors, and teaching technology. Through the course of the internship program they drew upon these skills to empower their work and inform their outreach strategies.

The Advocates spent a considerable amount of time at local community sites, including the Mountain View Senior Center and the Sunnyvale Senior Center, to provide one-on-one technology assistance to older adults.

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These experiences were incredibly rewarding to the Advocates because, as they pointed out, few college students have the opportunity to interact with seniors on a regular basis.

The Advocates also helped spread the word to patients and community about the linkAges TimeBank Program when visiting the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Mountain View and Palo Alto Centers. Through partnership with PAMF”s Community Health Resource Centers, they coordinated outreach for interested patients and staff.

Another important piece of the linkAges Advocates internship program is that interns are asked to develop a self-guided personal project. This cohort of Advocates decided to initiate outreach to the Santa Clara community, an area of expansion for the TimeBank with only a handful of existing members. They contacted student groups at Santa Clara University, faith-based groups, community leaders, and local healthcare providers. Their project concluded with a community event at The Forge Garden. Fifteen people attended the event and got their hands dirty while learning about sustainable gardening – and were able to learn more about the linkAges TimeBank too!

Thank you and well wishes to this group of linkAges Advocates and thank you for your service during your internship!

This group of Advocates made monumental impact for good, both on the internship program and the community. They helped older adults through home visits, technology assistance, and other TimeBank exchanges. They learned about health outside of the clinic during a monthly speaker series, and they had the opportunity to take a significant role in program deployment strategies. And, they did it all with passion, maturity, skill, and innovation. We’re going to miss them, but wish them the best on their continued career paths to make a difference in the health and well being of local communities.

 

linkAges TimeBank celebrates launch in City of Palo Alto

On June 18, approximately twenty-five linkAges TimeBank members and local residents came together at Bol Park to celebrate the launch of linkAges TimeBank in Palo Alto. In addition to a festive summer picnic, fun and games, guests enjoyed visits by stuffed donkey and city goodwill ambassador Palo Alto Perry, and the real Barron Park Donkeys, Pericles (Perry) and Niner.

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This event was a great opportunity for Palo Alto residents to meet current TimeBank members and learn more about the linkAges TimeBank, while enjoying the great weather and beautiful location.

Since its city launch in March, more than 75 people in Palo Alto have signed up for the TimeBank, either independently or through organization partners, such as Beth Am, Palo Alto YMCA, and the City of Palo Alto Utilities Department and Zero Waste Departments. Local TimeBank members shared their experiences with guests and made new social connections by playing a get-to-know you bingo game and posing for photos with our donkey friends.

We are planning launch parties for all of the new communities in which we deploy the TimeBank. It’s our way of welcoming new members and showing appreciation for the residents of the diverse cities which make up the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Be sure to check the linkAges TimeBank website, Facebook and Twitter pages for updates about launch parties in your area.

You can find more photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Linking Together for a Greener Tomorrow

One of the most rewarding aspects of timebanking is the opportunity to share your skills with others in your community. From recipe swapping to sharing gardening techniques, linkAges TimeBank members are constantly finding ways to learn from each other through their exchanges.

Now, there’s a new way to learn from your neighbors in Palo Alto. The City of Palo Alto has partnered with the linkAges TimeBank to recruit “Ambassadors” for home utility efficiency and zero waste practices. Trained Ambassadors will be matched up with Palo Alto residents interested in reducing waste and becoming more energy and water efficient. Palo Alto residents can join the linkAges TimeBank to receive energy efficiency and water efficiency services…for free!

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The goal of the Ambassador Program is to help Palo Alto become a more eco-friendly city while creating intergenerational connections to build a strong social support network for our community – another way in which community can use the linkAges TimeBank to bring people together.

The City of Palo Alto Utilities and Zero Waste departments will provide Ambassadors with all the necessary materials and training. Ambassadors will be able to provide some or all of the following services listed below and earn TimeBank hours for doing it!

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Energy & Water Efficiency Services

  • In-home energy and water efficiency education
  • Installation of:
    • Weather-stripping
    • LED light bulbs
    • Hose nozzles
    • Water-efficient faucet aerators
    • Low-flow shower heads
  • Toilet leak detection

Zero Waste Services

  • In-home Zero Waste education on topics like recycling, reusing, household hazardous waste, and Palo Alto’s new Food Scraps Composting Collection Program
  • Removes names from junk mail lists
  • Helps residents prepare for their Clean Up Day appointment
  • Assists with creation of less-toxic household cleaners
  • Assists with food waste reduction

Ambassador trainings are ongoing, and you do not have to be a Palo Alto resident to become an Ambassador. If you’re interested in becoming an Ambassador, please email timebank@linkages.org to learn more and register for an upcoming training.

If you are not yet a member, get started by signing up for a linkAges TimeBank orientation session at timebank.linkages.org.

linkAges TimeBank hosts 2nd Annual Tech Day for Older Adults

Over 80 older adults from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View and other surrounding communities improved their ability to use their personal technology devices to connect to their friends and loved ones at the 2nd Annual Technology Day for Older Adults, held at the Los Altos Library on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

a good crowdTwenty-five volunteers from Stanford, linkAges TimeBank, Bullis Charter High and Egan Junior High came from as far as Oakland and San Jose to provide individualized, one-hour sessions with older adult attendees. Topics included how to better use a computer, smartphone, tablet and social networking applications like Facebook or Skype.

Adults and volunteer pairs filled the Los Altos Library, spilling out into the lobby, Children’s Room and Teen Study Room. Judith Gregg, community librarian for the Santa Clara County Library District, beamed about the record turn out. “Libraries aren’t meant to be quiet, silent places anymore. We are thrilled to facilitate such learning exchanges across the generations.”

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Dilip Kumar, an 8th Grader at Egan Junior High School was enthusiastic about volunteering. “I had a lot of fun volunteering for the tech day. I really enjoyed working with the older adult and teaching her how to download apps to her iPad.  It was also nice chatting with her about what it was like to grow up here in Los Altos.”

The older adults who attended shared how appreciative they were for the “learning opportunity” and one even mentioned how glad to not be “made fun of or ridiculed” for not knowing how to use their device. In general, attendees of all ages benefitted from the day!

IMG_3513We’d also like to give a special thank you to the Los Altos Library and Los Altos Library Endowment for use of the space and laptops during the event.

Those who want to continue giving and receiving technology help are encouraged to become members of the neighborhood service exchange network,  linkAges TimeBank. For additional photos from the event, visit our Facebook Page.

Why I’m a linkAges Advocate

Stefanie Kong is a premedical student working under the Stanford School of Medicine’s Center of Excellence in Diversity in Medical Education’s LEAP program to improve the health of local communities. In this blog post, she shares why she works as an intern with our linkAges Advocates Program.

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linkAges Advocates (Left to Right: Margret, Elena, Stacey, Stefanie)

Being a college student and caregiver to my grandmother, I recently became aware of how important social connections are in providing a high quality of life for seniors. These social determinants of health are hard to reconcile with the fact that our society often tends to push those who are not “young and able” to the margins.

For example, one of my dearest neighbors is now living in a senior home. Aside from his wife, some neighbors, and the nursing staff — the only company he gets is the television and a book. I have seen so many seniors like him who, despite their talents and rich life experiences, lose their sense of self-worth and contribution to the community as they age.

I am currently working as a linkAges intern and actively promoting linkAges TimeBank throughout the South Bay. This is because I believe that seniors and family caregivers are a valuable asset to their community and should still be connected to others in meaningful ways. All of us can benefit from connecting with the rich talents and experiences of seniors; I personally learned that from my time with my grandmother.

There needs to be an “infusion of youth” colliding with a “diversity of seniors” to create a culture of inclusion. It will help reinforce a positive mentality of youthfulness, a sense of community, and promote well-being for our older community members. In return, younger members will obtain role models of older adults and also be more conscious of the realities and journey of aging. This contact will hopefully prepare them to be positive about their own future experiences with aging.

I believe that by rebuilding community connections and being there for each other, we will be able to open up worlds for all of us and learn the important lesson of getting through life every step of the way, together.

 

Spring into Summer Cooking Cafe Event

“You cook a good meal, and it’s fine. You eat by yourself, and it’s fine. But if you share it with somebody, it’s another feeling altogether.” – Clea Holdridge, TimeBank Member

Cooking-related offers and requests remain highly popular on the linkAges TimeBank, so we wanted to host an event that brought people together around a mutual love for food. Nearly 100 TimeBank members and community members gathered at the Historic Adobe Building in Mountain View on April 28 for our “Spring into Summer” Cooking Cafe. The event was a wonderful opportunity for people to connect with their neighbors and meet fellow foodies as they learned and sampled summer-inspired recipes from seven TimeBank chefs.

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TimeBank chefs were invited to share a beloved recipe that had meaning to them, either because it was a family recipe or a dish they had learned from their travels abroad.There were two rounds of cooking demos and each demo was 30 minutes long.

Cooking demos featured the following homemade recipes:

Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves (also called dolmades or dolmathakia) from Chef Pat Blumenthal

Pat, an avid traveler and foodie, has visited Greece many times and even offers Greek travel advice on the TimeBank!

Strawberry-Banana Kefir Smoothies from Chef Judith Kondo

Guests enjoyed kefir, a fermented drink with many health benefits, in the form a healthy strawberry-banana smoothie. In addition to her TimeBank offer on how to make kefir smoothies, Judith also offers help on urban beekeeping.

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Adzuki-Beet and Lentil-Pecan Pates from Chef Patty Evans

Patty was inspired to share these pate recipes by her recent “Holistic Holiday at Sea” cruise, which was a weeklong trip that consisted of talks and cooking classes led by world experts on whole foods plant-based diets.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing from Chef Stacey Urauchi

Stacey, another linkAges advocate, shares this refreshing salad that she learned from her mom. The peanut sauce dressing adds a unique flavor thanks to its secret ingredient: ramen seasoning!

IMG_3240Shanghai Style Wonton Soup from Chef Stefanie Kong

Stefanie is one of our linkAges advocates and enlisted the help of her mom for the demo. In fact, her mother was the one who taught her this wonton soup recipe. Fun fact: To prep for her demonstration, Stefanie and her mom made nearly 400 wontons!

Sizzlin’ Fajitas with homemade Honduran Salsa from Chef Libby Boatwright

Libby learned how to make Honduran salsa from villages in Bella Vista, Honduras where she served as a missionary. She describes her salsa as healthy and full of Vitamin C and veggies. Sabroso y rico, indeed!

Cajun Deviled Eggs from Chef Erica Gibson

Growing up in Louisiana, Erica has developed a deep appreciation for cajun and creole dishes. She was more than happy to share this family recipe with guests, who enjoyed listening to her stories as she demonstrated.

After the demos ended, attendees helped themselves to an assortment of dishes from the community buffet table. TimeBank chefs made extra portions to share so that all attendees – even those who were unable to attend their demo – could try their dish.

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In the true spirit of timebanking, guests were given mini cookbooks (featuring all the recipes from the event) to take home, so they could practice the skills they learned and try these recipes on their own!

For more Cooking Cafe photos, please check out our Facebook page.