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Caregiving, Coping and Compassion- Age Friendly SV sponsors series of events for SV Reads 2018

January 31st, 2018

We are thrilled to announce that we will be participating in this year’s, Silicon Valley Reads by offering an array of events centered on this year’s contemporary theme, No Matter What: Caring, Coping, and Compassion.

Silicon Valley Reads is an annual program which selects books that focus on a contemporary theme and encourages the community to read, think and discuss together. SV Reads offers a variety free events to the public throughout Santa Clara County from February 1st to March 31st, which range from author lead discussions to panel talks, all centered on the theme of compassion and caring.

The two books that were chosen to accompany this year’s theme are Goodbye Vitamin, by Rachel Khong and My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward, by Mark Lukach. Each of these stories focuses on two families that found a renewed love for each other when they were thrust into caregiving positions.

The Seniors’ Agenda of Santa Clara County Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) and Kaiser Permanente are proud to sponsor a series of CareMapping workshops at various libraries throughout Santa Clara County. A CareMap is a diagram of one’s care ecosystem which shows who is caring for whom along with other important information.  Developed by the nonprofit, Atlas of Caregiving and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Atlas of Caregiving team has taught CareMapping workshops all over the world.

Along with the CareMapping workshops, DAAS and Kaiser Permanente are honored to sponsor a panel discussion on March 8th at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. The discussion will focus on the topic of, Using Technology, Innovations, and Data to Create A New Future of Caregiving. This panel will feature Rajiv Mehta, the CEO and Founder of the Atlas of Caregiving, Dawn Narus, Anthropologist and Senior Research Scientist at the Intel Corporation,  Gary Wolf, the Co-founder of Quantified Self and a Contributing Editor at Wired and Mark Lukach, the author of one of SV Reads 2018 books, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward. The panel discussion will be moderated by Barbara Marsham, the Editorial Page Editor of the Mercury News.

We are excited to be apart of this community event and look forward to the discussions on caregiving, coping and compassion and the new insights that we will learn.

For more information on all of the SV Reads events, click the link below:

2018 SVR Calendar of Events

CareMapping Workshops: Dates and times

Workshops are limited to 30 participants. Register on the library’s events page.

  • Alum Rock Library — February 12th, 4:30-6:30 pm
  • Morgan Hill Library — February 13th, 7:00-9:00 pm
  • Campbell Library — February 22nd, 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Saratoga Library — March 2nd, 10:30 am-12:30 pm
  • Gilroy Library — March 5th, 7:00-9:00 pm
  • Los Altos Library — March 19th, 7:00-9:00 pm

Panel Discussion: Using Technology, Innovations, and Data to Create A New Future of Caregiving

  • The Tech Museum of Innovation- March 8th, doors open at 6:30 pm



Atlas CareMap — Empowering families and building community

January 30th, 2018

SV Reads brings locally-developed CareMap Workshops, which have had a big impact on communities across the country, to Silicon Valley for the first time.

Who all do you care for? Who else cares for them? And who cares for you?

Developed by nonprofit Atlas of Caregiving, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the CareMap is a diagram of a family’s care ecosystem showing who cares for whom along with other key information. It can be drawn by hand or on a computer. A seemingly simple tool, the CareMap has often had a transformational impact on individuals, families, and communities.

The process of drawing the CareMap — thinking about who to include and why — and then reflecting upon what’s been drawn helps people better understand their own family care situations. The increased self-awareness helps them: better manage the people involved; recognize what is working well (and worth celebrating); recognize and plan for current and potential difficulties; and better advocate for their own needs.

In the past two years, several hundred people across the US have participated in CareMap Workshops, sponsored by AARP and the Santa Barbara Foundation. In these Workshops, people learn to draw and reflect on their own CareMaps. Most importantly, they have an opportunity to show others what they’ve drawn and speak about what they’ve learned. These conversations have been eye-opening for many, and have catalyzed more conversations outside the Workshop. Many workshop participants have gone on to show and teach CareMaps to their family, friends, colleagues, and others in the community. A news story Caregivers Draw Support By Mapping Their Relationships featured some examples.

In Santa Barbara, where over 150 people have participated in Atlas-led Workshops, community volunteers have gone on to teach hundreds more families, social workers are using CareMaps with their clients, hospitals are investigating how to incorporate them into their efforts and processes, and the Santa Barbara Foundation and the local Area Agency on Aging are both requiring all grantees to use CareMaps in their programs. 

CareMap Workshop locations and dates

Workshops are limited to 30 participants. Register on the library’s events page.

  • Alum Rock Library — February 12th, 4:30-6:30 pm
  • Morgan Hill Library — February 13th, 7:00-9:00 pm
  • Campbell Library — February 22nd, 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Saratoga Library — March 2nd, 10:30 am-12:30 pm
  • Gilroy Library — March 5th, 7:00-9:00 pm
  • Los Altos Library — March 19th, 7:00-9:00 pm


Draw CareMaps using an online tool here Further instructions and examples can be found on the Atlas of Caregiving website

If you prefer to draw your CareMap by hand, instructions and examples can be found here.

For more information, contact Rajiv Mehta, CEO, Atlas of Caregiving, at

Article by Rajiv Mehta, CEO of Atlas of Caregiving.


Senior Safari Walkabout at Happy Hollow Park-Heather Lerner

December 11th, 2017

senior safari heather Lerner

For the past several years I’ve spent my work days at a vintage amusement park and accredited zoo, watching families play and learn together in a beautiful outdoor setting.  In community meetings, clubs and boards, people who learned that I was involved with Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, would invariably remark, “Oh I LOVE Happy Hollow!  I can’t go any more because I don’t have small children in my life”.  That was the start of thinking that there had to be a way to bring the generation that started Happy Hollow, which opened in 1961 to a ribbon cutting by Jerry “The Beaver” Mathers, from the hit sitcom, Leave it to Beaver, back to a place they already knew and loved.  

It seemed that the number one barrier was being childless in a kid-centric environment.  I’d had success with a night time event that gave the 21 and up crowd the feeling of sneaking into the park after dark.  I was thrilled to see how they used the space once it was modified with enhancements to appeal to the gala set.  It got me thinking, we could do a daytime version of this.  We just needed to give the space over fully to the older adults, with a few enhancements that would be appealing for different reasons— for one, obviously the night time bar would need to be replaced with fresh smoothie samples (park management would never let me get away with Bloody Marys).  I knew we shouldn’t be focused on all the negatives of getting older, rather center our attention on what we do best; that’s play and enchantment. No falls prevention hand-outs,, no stroke awareness brochures or any commercial pitches whatsoever.  I wanted to remind people about the power of play, of how great a brisk walk outside (not in a mall) feels, and as my mom informed me as I was asking her what she thought would make it appealing, “we want ice cream”.  Mother, really?  It’s breakfast.  Turns out she was right.  A break in the rules can be as invigorating as a slight chill in the morning that warms quickly under blue skies.  

I wanted others to experience what I got to enjoy every work day before opening— watching the animals wake up, the zoo keepers, Puppet Castle Theater and amusement rides staff on their routines getting ready for what I call, the park and zoo show. I knew other zoos had rolled out plans exclusively for seniors and had heard of their successes. Working with park staff on a prototype, with the confidence of outside funders who also believed in the model, we debuted Senior Safari Walkabout mornings.  A time slot exclusively for those 50 and up, a place to walk 10,000 steps, connect with animals, sketch, take photos, and even try hula hooping with the artists on staff.  

Looking at new ways of using existing spaces and programs was the mother of invention that addressed a growing need for social inclusion and outdoor activity for seniors in our area .  The guests led us the rest of the way, with their ideas leading to guided walks, Tai Chi, watercolor painting, line dancing and more. My favorite was the insistence that the rides be open before all those little tripping hazards, er, children, arrived and would take up all the spaces on the Keep Around Carousel, Danny the Dragon and the hands-down crowd favorite, the roller coaster.  Seniors know what they want and need;  we just need to listen and be willing to modify.

Heather Lerner recently finished a successful career leading many new initiatives and renovations as Executive Director of Happy Hollow Foundation.  She is now Director of Development with Boy Scouts of America, Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council.

Heather Lerner

Changing Aging: Is the Business Community Prepared?

February 28th, 2017

We were so thrilled to introduce Susan Ellenberg, Senior Director of Community Development for SVO (the silicon valley organization) to our Age-friendly initiative and introduce her to John Feather, CEO of Grantmakers in Aging, when he was in San Jose for the Seniors’ Agenda Network Summit. Susan and The Health Trust graciously hosted a breakfast with alumni of Leadership San Jose to share the economic impact of Age-Friendly cities.  Here are her reflections and insights from the discussion over breakfast.

I hadn’t thought very much about ‘old people’ (though my young adult children insist that I am one) before participating in a conversation with a small group of LSJ alumni, facilitated by  Dr John Feather, Chief Executive Officer at Grantmakers in Aging, around the subject of an aging citizenry. Apparently, they (we) are a growing cohort: in 2017, ‘seniors’ (defined here as 60+) make up 15% of our county’s population; by 2030, that proportion will double to 30%. That’s a lot of people lining up for the 4:30 matinee.

This shifting demographic is going to have significant, in many ways positive, impact on all aspects of our economy.

  1. Seniors continue to pay taxes, but place less demand on public education, police services, jails and roads
  2. Seniors spend money: on movies, theater, restaurants, fitness clubs, lectures, travel and more
  3. Seniors generate new industry niches: Lyft, for example, is capitalizing on this new population, both as passengers and drivers.
  4. Seniors generate new product and service needs, from new technologies to enhance brain health and person-centric health care to self-driving cars, drones and task robots. Entire incubators are being designed to foster growth in this area (check out as an example).
  5. Seniors often scale down, increasing demand for small, often higher density housing and desire amenities that are within walking distance
  6. Seniors are positioned to promote an agenda for universal design: housing, transportation, roads and sidewalks, and businesses that are designed to be accessible for seniors are by definition more inclusive of the entire population including people with disabilities and children.

On the other hand, seniors who are not financially secure place a demand on social services: they may need subsidized housing, supplemental nutrition and health care, modified transportation and day centers. How a community cares for its seniors says much about its ethical nature. San Jose was recently designated by the World Health Organization as an ‘Age Friendly City’ and the County of Santa Clara is working toward all 15 cities in the county earning this designation by the coming summer. The public sector is thinking about and planning for the growing tide of seniors, but is the business sector yet focused on this shift? How will businesses be impacted and what new practices might be put into place?

One suggestion is to follow the public sector example and think about what it might mean to be an ‘age friendly business’. Some qualities might include the following:

  1. Employees are trained to be patient with a client/customer who appears to be confused, is moving slowly or has trouble making a decision. They are further trained to speak loudly and clearly, without expressing frustration or yelling, when it appears that someone is having trouble hearing them.
  2. Places of business provide access to comfortable places to sit, particularly if clients/customers may expect to wait some time for their product/service.
  3. Signage is printed in a large enough font to be visible to people with diminished eyesight.
  4. Similarly, menus with large font and lighting sources are available.
  5. Accessible restrooms are available.
  6. The business’s physical design offers universal access to adults with strollers, people with disabilities and seniors, including ramps, restroom safety rails and wide aisles.

An “age friendly business” designation could drive more customers or clients to patronize a business that thoughtfully caters to all community members.

The business community could also choose to recognize and celebrate businesses that are actively catering to this emerging demographic and investors might be encouraged to fund innovations that will be of use to an increasingly large percentage of the population.

There is much the business community can do to prepare for and prosper in a community populated by many more persons ‘of a certain age’ and the svo is prepared to be a part of that conversation. For more information or to engage in creating an action plan around Changing Aging, please contact Susan Ellenberg at

WHO’s “Eight domains”

March 15th, 2016

Man on Train

Today, research shows communities adapting to meet the needs of their older adult citizens raise the quality of life in ways that also appeal across the age spectrum. This is a core message for Santa Clara County and our cities, as we work together to join the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Global Network.

Joining this effort helps us prepare for two global demographic trends: the rapid aging population, and increasing urbanization. An age-friendly community adapts its structures and services to be inclusive of all community members with varying needs and capabilities.

Our City and County are using age-friendly guidelines to assess our needs, and to find where we need additional services, facilities or programs, using WHO’s research-based “eight domains:”

  • Outdoor spaces and building
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Social participation
  • Respect and social inclusion
  • Civic participation and information
  • Communications and information
  • Community support and health services

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