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The Phoebe Institute on Aging Conference & Presentations

West Greets East: Alternative Approaches to Aging

The Western approach to aging considers the human body as primary. Treatments for common ailments associated with growing older—everything from memory lapses to pain to incontinence to loneliness—are generally addressed biochemically. The Eastern approach to aging considers the consciousness as primary. Treatments encompass the body, mind, and spirit. As our aging population increases and grows older, how can we integrate Western and Eastern philosophies to help ensure longevity and quality of life—as well as a peaceful death? This conference explored a world of approaches to that question from a broad spectrum of disciplines.

*The conference topic was very deliberately not West Versus East or East Versus West. Rather, the Phoebe Institute on Aging sought to spark a dialogue and bridge the gap between Western and Eastern philosophies. The Phoebe Institute on Aging does not endorse a particular speaker or point of view. We seek only to help older adults and their caregivers learn about the very best options available for healthy aging, treatments and prevention of chronic illnesses and healing.

Click on the links below to view conference presentations.  

So Why Would an M.D. Learn Acupuncture? A Personal Journey of Integration
By: Ric A. Baxter, M.D. FAAHPM, Network Chairman, Department of Palliative Medicine, & Hospice Medical Director, St. Luke’s University Health Network
(Click here to read session description).

Integrative Medicine and Self-Care: A Roadmap to Wellness
By: Carrie Demers, M.D. Medical Director, PureRejuv Wellness Center at the Himalayan Institute
(Click here to read session description).

Ayurveda for Healthy Aging
By: Dr. Shekhar Annambhotla, BAMS, Ayurvedic Doctor and Educator, Ayurveda Wellness Center (Ojas LLC)
(Click here to read session description).

Dancing Mindfulness: Bridging the Mind and the Body in Aging
By: Cady R. Monasmith, Recreation Counselor & Certified Dancing Mindfulness Facilitator, Caron Treatment Centers
(Click here to read session description).

The Role of Soil Health in Human Health: Nutrients Needed as We Age
By: Gladis Zinati, Ph.D., Director, Vegetable Systems Trial, Rodale Institute 
(Click here to read session description).

Art as Healing, Part I: Creating Mandalas for Meditation and Stress Relief in Older Adults
By: Heather Rodale, Founder, Healing Through The Arts
(Click here to read session description).

Art as Healing, Part II: 30 Days of Inspiration for Older Adults 
By: Heather Rodale, Founder, Healing Through The Arts
(Click here to read session description).

STOP, Breathe, and Relax 
By:The Rev. Jamie Moyer, M.Div., BCC, Chaplain, Phoebe Richland
(Click here to read session description).

Aging Well
By: Barbara “Bobbi” Kolonay, RN, BSN, MS, CCM, HNB-BC, President of Holistic Aging
(Click here to read session description).

Lived Experience with Neurocognitive Challenges in the Elderly Using Holistic Measures and the Nursing Process
By: Bill Leiner Jr., MS RN, PMH-BC, Marketing Professional, New Vitae Wellness and Recovery Inc.
(Click here to read session description).

Super Aging 
By: Sharon A. Matthew, LPC, CCS, ACRPS, CSAT, CMAT, Clinical Director of the Older Adult Program, Caron Treatment Centers
(Click here to read session description).

Session Descriptions 

So Why Would an M.D. Learn Acupuncture? A Personal Journey of Integration
Ric A. Baxter, M.D., FAAHPM, Network Chairman, Department of Palliative Medicine, & Hospice Medical Director, St. Luke’s University Health Network

For the past 14 years, Dr. Baxter has incorporated acupuncture into his daily practice of medicine, initially as a family medicine physician and now as a palliative care physician. He discusses his own understanding of acupuncture, both historical and practical. He describes his own yin and yang approach to suffering and healing. Case discussions are interspersed with medical evidence to support a role for acupuncture.
(View presentation here.)

Integrative Medicine and Self-Care: A Roadmap to Wellness
Carrie Demers, M.D., Medical Director, PureRejuv Wellness Center at the Himalayan Institute

Our bodies and minds are miracles! They contain immense capacity to grow, heal, and transform. Our conventional medical system forgets this and often recommends treatments that just manage symptoms, without moving us in a healing direction. Integrative medicine yokes the power of medicine with the power of lifestyle. It supports us in creating routines and habits that support our inherent capacity to heal. It acknowledges our bodies’ intelligence and aims to work with it to help us be our best, most strong and capable selves at every age. This lecture defines the principles of integrative medicine and how to use them to support wellness and healing. Dr. Demers addresses food, exercise, stress management, and sleep, as well as purpose, community, and spirituality.
(View presentation here.)

Ayurveda for Healthy Aging
Dr. Shekhar Annambhotla, BAMS, Ayurvedic Doctor and Educator, Ayurveda Wellness Center (Ojas LLC)

Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, has been practiced for over 5,000 years. The word “Ayurveda” is composed of two words: ayu, meaning “life,” and veda, meaning “knowledge.” As a holistic and preventive science, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of diet and daily and seasonal routines for overall health. Everyone, especially seniors, can benefit from incorporating various Ayurvedic modalities into their daily lives for improved digestion, metabolism, sleep, and relief from chronic aches and pains. This session will provide both an overview of Ayurveda as well as numerous practical tips, including their scientific basis.
(View presentation here.)

Dancing Mindfulness: Bridging the Mind and the Body in Aging
By: Cady R. Monasmith, Recreation Counselor & Certified Dancing Mindfulness Facilitator, Caron Treatment Centers 

Dance and movement serve the older adult population by furthering their emotional, cognitive, physical, and social lives. Participants will learn about the importance of mindfulness and physical movement for older adults through current research and case examples. Experiential activities using dance, music, and props will be presented to enhance and embody participants’ understanding of how mindfulness can be experienced in other ways, bridging practices of the East (mindfulness) with practices of the West (dance).
(View presentation here.)

The Role of Soil Health in Human Health: Nutrients Needed as We Age
Gladis Zinati, Ph.D., Director, Vegetable Systems Trial, Rodale Institute

Essential human nutrients begin in the soil and can be passed on to humans through the food chain. Much human illness is likely caused by inadequate nutrition from the food we consume that is produced in toxic and unhealthy poor soil. This presentation focuses on the influence of management practices that improve nutrient quality of vegetable crops by increasing bioactive compounds, antioxidants, and minerals that are needed for elderly people to guard against degenerative diseases. Diets with winter squash, colored flesh potato, spinach, and mushrooms can provide aging people with important sources of vitamin D2, calcium, iron, and ergothioneine amino acids.
(View presentation here.)

Art as Healing, Part I: Creating Mandalas for Meditation and Stress Relief in Older Adults
By: Heather Rodale, Founder, Healing Through The Arts

Mandala comes from a Sanskrit word meaning circle. Mandalas are part of many cultures and can be seen in cathedral rose windows, Native American pottery, Celtic knots, Buddhist sand art, and Hindu gardens. They represent the wholeness of mind, body, and spirit, as well as the changing of the seasons. They are also a symbol of culture suggesting community, support, and protection. In this interactive workshop, participants learned how to draw and color mandalas in a spiritual and creative journey.
(View presentation here.)

Art as Healing, Part II: 30 Days of Inspiration for Older Adults
By: Heather Rodale, Founder, Healing Through The Arts

In this second hour, participants learned how to create small cards that will be part of a “30 Days of Inspiration” notecard set. The messages are designed to provide hope, strength, and positivity, and draw attention to the beauty of life and nature. Participants from the first session can learned how to apply collage techniques to enhance their mandala.
(View presentation here.)

STOP, Breathe, and Relax

By: The Rev. Jamie Moyer, M.Div., BCC, Chaplain, Phoebe Richland

In recent years, Western medicine has become more open to meditation as a holistic practice that reduces stress and anxiety, blood pressure levels, pain, and biochemical dependency. Scientific studies of meditators have found that the repetitive practices of meditation can enhance well-being and positively impact emotional balance and genuine happiness in all age categories. This explores and demonstrates several styles of mindfulness-based meditation, with attention given to simple mindfulness practices that best suit the needs of older adults, caregivers, and health care staff.
(View presentation here.)

Aging Well
By: Barbara “Bobbi” Kolonay, RN, BSN, MS, CCM, HNB-BC, President of Holistic Aging

This begins with an exploration of the Western allopathic model of care in comparison to the complementary (alternative or Eastern) approach, including unforgettable tales from international travels where Kolonay learned traditional medicine from local practitioners. The session include accounts and practical examples of the integrative use of conventional (Western or allopathic) medicine and complementary (Eastern or alternative) treatments used by Holistic Aging in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(View presentation here.)

Lived Experience with Neurocognitive Challenges in the Elderly Using Holistic Measures and the Nursing Process
By: Bill Leiner Jr., MS RN, PMH-BC, Marketing Professional, New Vitae Wellness and Recovery Inc.

Holism refers to the theory that the individual components of a person—physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, emotional, and mental—cannot by themselves define a person’s well-being. Western society is increasingly moving toward acceptance and utilization of Eastern methods as one way to integrate holistic health services with the aging population. Holistic nursing measures have also gained general prominence with Western medicine in the quest for increased quality of life. This presentation captures and bridges both methodologies by recognizing how East can complement West, and vice versa. One story of a “lived experience” utilizing both practices will be shared, which explores the neurocognitive challenges of aging.
(View presentation here.)

Super Aging
Sharon A. Matthew, Clinical Director of the Older Adult Program, Caron Treatment Centers

The concept of “super aging” refers to people in their 60’s,70’s, and 80’s who have the mental or physical capacity of their decades-younger counterparts. This session addresses what it means to be a “super-ager,” and how we can achieve it and help others achieve it. It explores the concepts of a life worth living, finding purpose, and maintaining quality of life.
(View presentation here.)

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