In 2009 and 2011, the Phoebe Institute on Aging planned dramatizations of Lisa Genova and Gail Sheehy’s books as part of the annual conferences. The performances by veteran actors provided exposure on topics related to quality of life and care for the aging in the local media. The stage adaptation of Genova’s Still Alice utilized the technique of the main character’s younger, mentally capable self, narrating Alice’s frightening descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease while preserving the dignity of the intelligent college professor. Attendees commented on the effectiveness of the short play and the importance of knowing the feelings of similar people for which they provide care.
In 2010, a local public radio station interviewed NPR’s Dave Isay about his upcoming appearance at the annual conference in which he conveyed the power of telling our own stories through the Storycorps initiative. A national project that inspires people to record vignettes about their struggles and joys in small studios around the country, Storycorps captures brief but poignant moments in the lives of American families. Phoebe was interested in Isay as a speaker because of our investment in capturing the stories of our residents as part of our pastoral care programs, newsletters and especially through our Montessori programming in which activities are geared to individuals depending on their lives and backgrounds. The dignity and well-being of the seniors our community serves are foundational in all of the ventures created by the Phoebe Institute on Aging Advisory Board.
The Spring 2014 Phoebe Institute on Aging Spring Conference centered on understanding the “Cultural and Faith Implications in Caregiving” at Temple Beth El in Allentown. Rev. Eric J. Hall and Rev. George Handzo both from Health Care Chaplaincy delivered plenary sessions on the importance of understanding spiritual differences and accurate cultural and spiritual assessments in a health care setting. Break-out sessions at the conference centered on understanding Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist traditions in addition to Latino Cultures. An interactive presentation on international interpersonal communication aimed bridge the communication gap across a variety of cultures.