The Power of Writing

January 26, 2015 - Serving Seniors

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast according to a recent New York Times article. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.writing 2

It didn’t take a convincing article from a major publication for Joe Gavin, Wellness and Transition Manager, to start a writing group for our seniors.  He’s been leading a group for the past two and a half years at one of our affordable housing complexes, Potiker Family Senior Residence.  The Potiker Writing Group consists of 12-15 dedicated residents who come together to explore expression through the written word. “We spend our time reviewing writing that the residents have completed on their own time and do writing exercises in class. There is a teaching element to the endeavor, but we are primarily focused on each person putting their creative talents and imagination to use” says Joe.

Joe explains the purpose of the group as a time to get into a different state of mind and he provides an arena where people can let their imaginations run wild and produce something unique, personal and valuable to share with others.  “All of us need a break from the logical and linear world that dominates our lives” explains Joe, “I think the residents really enjoy the chance to share a side of themselves with other residents that may otherwise not be afforded to them.”

Joe has noticed a therapeutic element to the writing group that is right in line with the research. But most importantly, Joe says “it is the relationships that are either formed or strengthened that have the most meaning. The writing group is an opportunity for the residents to put their own signature on crafting that community spirit.”  While writing is not typically on our list of priorities, it appears we could all benefit from putting pen to paper from time to time and perhaps we should reconsider its place in our lives.

Staff Spotlight: Parwin Tahir, MSW

January 15, 2015 - Serving Seniors

This month we are highlighting Parwin Tahir, a Social Service Case Manager who works directly with our clients Parwinevery day. Seniors come to Parwin with any and every type of issue from housing crises to accessing medical insurance and sometimes just a shoulder to cry on.  Parwin is an asset to her clients and she does everything in her power to help them overcome barriers in order to live healthy, fulfilling, independent lives.  She also has her very own interesting and inspiring story about how she came to be a Case Manager.

Learn more about Parwin…

How long have you worked for Serving Seniors?

I started as an intern in 2011 and I was fortunate to become a full-time employee with Serving Seniors back in October 2013 after completing my Master’s Degree in Social Work.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Knowing that the assistance I provide to the seniors has a positive impact in their lives.

Share one of the most memorable cases you’ve worked on.

I had a client who was chronically homeless for more than ten years. When the client met with me for the first time, she did not know where to begin. She was struggling with substance abuse and multiple mental health problems. With the assistance of the clinical team, the client was enrolled in the Homeless Prevention Program (HPP) in order to start a path to secure permanent affordable housing. I provided her with appropriate resources and referrals for her substance abuse and mental health issues. Before the client exited the HPP she was completely sober and seeking psychiatric treatment. She was successful in securing affordable housing at our residential facility, Potiker City Heights Residence. She now volunteers at various agencies to give back to people who are experiencing the same struggles she did. This specific client is a prime example of change and empowerment. She was a motivated individual and who needed a little push to make a tremendously positive change in her life.

Why is your role as Social Services Case Manager so important?

I came to the U.S. from Kurdistan, Iraq as a refugee at the age of five. I personally have learned to adapt to a lifestyle I never knew about as a child. Social Workers gave my family and me assistance when we were transitioning into a new country. Because of the advocacy, resourcefulness, and compassion they demonstrated I was inspired to pursue a career in Social Work. I wanted to ensure that my role as a social worker would impact those I encounter the same way the social workers impacted my life when I was just a young girl.

I believe my role at Serving Seniors is important because I feel it is my responsibility to utilize my position and knowledge to continue the traditions of advocacy, resourcefulness, and compassion toward the struggle for equality in the world. I can use my role to empower the aging population in having a high quality of life in their later years by providing appropriate resources and achieving quality outcomes in a manner that is supportive.

Parwin’s clients inspire her and she inspires all of us. Thank you, Parwin, for all that you do for San Diego’s seniors on a daily basis. You rock!


Tips for Making Healthy Choices As We Age

January 7, 2015 - Serving Seniors

With a new year comes the ever common goal of making lasting, healthy changes to improve our quality of life. The folks at Senior Planet wrote a very timely article titled ‘How to Amp Up Your Healthy Lifestyle’ and we thought we’d share a few nuggets of wisdom about getting active, eating well and staying engaged as we age.

Exercise Can Keep You Independent Longer


There are direct links between good exercise, nutrition and independence which is precisely why group exercise classes are wonderful for everyone but especially seniors. At Serving Seniors we certainly understand the importance of staying active as we age and we see the benefits when we look at clients, like Agnes (pictured right), who regularly take our fitness classes. At 94 years old she is the picture of health.

Exercise not only helps you stay strong, it’s also a natural mood and memory booster. Even if you’re recovering from an injury or have a chronic illness, you should stay active. Senior fitness guru Rene Burton suggests “making appointments with yourself” to exercise. Look for an instructor who takes an interest in her students and is careful not to push you beyond your ability. Above all, she says, “Listen to your body.”

How to Pick a Fitness Program

If you’re looking for a good senior fitness program it should:

  • Address balance, strength and flexibility
  • Include light aerobics (no “pounding”)
  • Include plenty of stretching

Our fitness classes include all of the above and are led by certified group fitness instructor Patty Frisby six times a week. Patty has taught at Serving Seniors for over 7 years and provides classes designed specially for the senior population.

IMG_0945(2)Healthy Diets Can Cure

What you eat is as important as how much you move. Even if you’re not about to make an overhaul, small changes—giving up that late night chip habit, or starting the day with fruit and oatmeal rather than a bagel—can make a difference. As a general rule, try reducing your intake of simple carbohydrates (bread, pasta, sweets, processed foods) and eat more fresh vegetables. A nutritionist can give you shopping and meal-planning tips.

The meals we serve to seniors are balanced, healthy and provide a third of the daily requirements needed for older adults. Our meal plan is developed by a nutritionist with our seniors in mind.

Stay Engaged

One of the main risk factors for depression and declining health is isolation. Studies show that spending time online reduces depression and increases cognitive function. If you can keep doing meaningful work (even if it’s volunteering), do it. Get together with friends and family.

We offer a variety of activities and classes including writing, computer training, history and civic engagement. Check out our Activities Calendar to find a class that may interest you.

Wishing you a healthy and happy 2015!


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