May 21, 2017

Even before I asked if I could sit down and interview her, Margaret waved me over and tapped the chair next to her signalling me to come over. “Aren’t you going to ask me some questions? I’m busy and I have to go soon but I guess I have time for a few.”

“I moved from Philadelphia to New York and I was unhappy until I met my husband. I was 16 and he was 18 at the time. I met him in New York. I’ve learned over the years that no matter how much money you have, it doesn’t buy happiness. It doesn’t at all buy happiness. It’s frustrating because you can’t get extra doctors. Well, you can but there’s a limit to what doctors can do for you. Be grateful for good health because part of it is just luck. Sometimes you will face problems that money can’t fix, so it’s important to have a good attitude and go about life with a happy mentality. And that’s what I’ve learned.

Money can’t buy you happiness. It’s one of those old sayings that we hear too often and end up ignoring. Instinctively, we believe...

April 23, 2017

When we talk with our grandparents, we often expect them to be overly serious. So when Jerry told me I should refer to him as “The Emperor”, I was completely taken aback; to be completely frank, I wasn’t even sure if he was joking when I first met him. However, as I got to know him better, I understood Jerry to be a very witty person whose jokes could make people from any time period laugh.

As we talked further, Jerry and his wife emphasized the value of empathy and an open mind.

“When I was your age, I was going to school and working at the same time. I was in junior high; boys had a job. My first job, if I remember correctly, was in a grocery store. I met a lot of different people working in the grocery store and learned how to get along with people. It’s got to be in your personality, but you can improve on it if you have a basic background. Your personality has to be so that you’ll be receptive to people. You have to be receptive to other people’s ideas and opinions.”

Today’s society...

April 12, 2017

Name of Activity/Project:

A feasibility study of pursed lip breathing, singing, and kazoo playing on lung functioning of people who

A description of the professional activity/project including where the activity/project will occur.
Individuals who smoke are at an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD). Many individuals have damaged their lungs through smoking but have not yet developed this
disease. This project is original research examining the impact of 3 interventions on lung function of
people who smoke. This study will use pursed lip breathing, singing and kazoo playing as the
interventions. It will take place at a retirement facility. Men who smoke daily and are ages 60-90 will be
invited to participate. Each participant will complete all three interventions within an hour and half. There
will be a 30 minute break between each intervention to allow the participant's breathing to return to
normal. In addition to lung functioning measures...

April 9, 2017

Foreign languages. It’s something that many of us want to learn but few of us have the self discipline to master. Personally, I find it immensely frustrating and sad when my grandparents recount poems from their childhood and I can’t understand due the nuances of language outside of prose. Jeanne talked to me about similar experiences.

“I’m Jewish. I went to a public school but I also went to a Jewish school twice a week after public school to learn to write and speak Yiddish. I also tried to teach myself Russian so that I could speak and translate for my parents and my grandparents who didn’t speak much English. They came from Russia. My sisters and I were first generation Americans. My sisters were born in Chicago and I was born here in California. If I could go back and learn another language, I would learn spanish. I wasn’t too smart in high school and took French, but nobody uses French in California so much good it’s done for me.”

I remember this one time when my family and I stopp...

March 11, 2017

If you went back in time, what is the one piece of advice you would give yourself?

"I think to appreciate more what we have. I don't think that we appreciated the fact that our parents gave us as much as they did, and we had the advantages of living here. My grandparents were immigrants...from Russia mostly"-Loraine

What are you most proud of?

"Raised my family, my one boy is an insurance agent, my other one is a repair worker, and they are wonderful"-Martha, accordionist

March 5, 2017

After talking with Jerry, I spoke with Evelyn, Jerry’s wife and retired pathologist. She too spoke about the importance of empathy as a personality trait.

“I too am very sensitive to other people’s feelings, so I can understand or try to understand what others feel. It just breaks my heart that this world is going in the direction that it’s going but it’ll straighten out. There has to be hope for you guys. That’s what we do for the next generation: we support you and have faith that you’ll be the ones that change society.

Evelyn sentiments about worsening state of the world were not unique to her. In my many conversations with senior citizens and residents at various elderly homes, I have found that many people believe that the status quo is worse than the decades that have preceded it. What is responsible for this belief? This idea is particularly surprising to me considering that most of the people I have spoken to have lived through World War II. It is definitely concerning...

February 19, 2017

When speaking with residents, they often talk about the many lessons and core values they have gained throughout the course of their lifetime. Bert, a civil engineer, recounted his simple and rather minimalistic approach to life. After detailing the small joys of his childhood playing basketball and going to the movies every Friday night, Bert left me with one seemingly simple piece of advice.

“Be a good person and help people out when you can. Even when you’re having a rough time, remember that there are always people struggling more than you are.”

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Ever since our childhood, we are always told in some form or another to do all good and avoid all evil; lend a helping hand whenever we can. But how many of us actually live this belief to the fullest? Inevitably, we succumb to that small bout of selfishness once in awhile out of expediency.

In my conversation with him, Bert seemed to embrace this mindset as a life philosophy. If an aged man who lived through a world...

January 26, 2017

On December 21st, 2017, AHR held its annual holiday expedition. We call it a “holiday expedition”, but the music we play is all Christmas themed in reality. Despite our exhaustive efforts, we could not find any saxophone quartet music to accommodate Jewish residents.

Despite our shortcomings, the residents at the four elderly homes we visited enjoyed our performance...or at least we like to think that they did. In any case, it was fun for us to meet both familiar and new faces from our performances throughout the year. After all, 2016’s Holiday Expedition marked the one year anniversary since AHR began performing at elderly homes. As such, our performances at Atria Tarzana, Encino Village, and South and North Brookdale Tarzana were not only valuable experiences for our members and the elderly residents but also a point of retrospection on how far AHR has come.

The most noticeable difference between AHR now and then is the number of performances. The so called “Holiday Expedition” of 2015...

December 31, 2016

We strive to connect the elderly community with the real world apart from their families. When visiting senior centers, we converse and connect, helping the residents of the homes experience outside influences and interactions with youth. Here is a conversation with Anita, from our visit to Atria Tarzana. 

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"To forget the elderly is to ignore the wisdom of the years"

                         - Donald Laird