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Article: the Work of Dr. Patrick Arbore

Our thanks to alum Joyce Ciriales for finding this article in the Health section of a Philadelphia paper about the work of our very own Dr. Patrick Arbore:


Old people can be bullies. Here’s what to do about it

Most of us probably think of kids when we think of bullies. Patrick Arbore thinks of an old man he watched trip a frail old woman in the senior facility where they both lived. He also thinks of a group of women elsewhere who taunted a new resident  for speaking Spanish, and of an elderly resident who made a manager’s life so miserable that she quit. The bully smiled broadly when the manager announced her resignation.

“That teenage boy who was the terror in your high school grew up and he just got better at it,”  said Arbore, who spoke Thursday at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging‘s Regional Conference on Aging, a three-day event that drew about 600 professionals who work with older adults and their families.

Arbore, who grew up on a Western Pennsylvania dairy farm, also thinks of his father and grandmother, who he says were bullies. Exposure to them made him repress his own anger, and he became depressed and suicidal.  But his experience also convinced him that both victims and bullies deserve compassion.

“Bullying is taught,” he said, and it often stems from fear and inadequacy. “People who bully have an intense desire to be in control.  What that reveals underneath is insecurity,” said Arbore, founder and director of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief Related Services at the Institute on Aging in San Francisco.

Arbore said he confronted the man he’d seen trip his fellow resident.  She’d managed not to fall, but her lunch went flying.  She cried when she got to her table.  The man refused to meet Arbore’s eyes and denied that he had done anything.  Arbore talked to him again later and his anger spilled out.  He hated the woman, he said.  He hated old people and he didn’t want to be like her.

The man’s actions revealed his “internalized ageism,” Arbore said.

Americans have gotten better at acknowledging bullying in schools, but they’ve been slower to confront the reality of bullying among seniors, Arbore said.  Ten to 20 percent of seniors reported exposure to aggression by other older adults, usually verbal abuse, one study found. He thinks the behavior is underreported.  Seniors are afraid to tell, and staff may be afraid that bullies will focus on them.  The bullies may also be cunning enough to ingratiate themselves with managers.

Senior victims are often smaller and frailer than their bullies.  Some may have dementia or anxiety, or even a history of abuse. Bullying often occurs when the staff isn’t watching, in dining rooms where newcomers are shunned at certain tables and communal areas where a bully controls the television.  Even Facebook can be a forum for bullying and exclusion.

The abuse may leave victims depressed and isolated.  Arbore said bullies are dangerous because they inspire more bullying and fuel hate.

While some victims can learn to be more assertive, others must rely on staff to create an environment where everyone knows that bullying is unacceptable, Arbore said.

Bullies often have no idea how their actions affect others, he said.  Empathy can be taught. Sometimes it’s helpful for a staff member to mediate a discussion between bully and victim, concluding with the bully agreeing to stop.

Staff, he said, can “teach that bully that there are other people  and it’s OK if they are different than you are, and you’re not in charge of the moral compass.”

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Patrick Arbore Receives SILVER Jefferson Award

Patrick Jefferson SilverWe were thrilled to report last fall that Dr. Patrick Arbore, who has taught at NDNU for the past 25 years, was awarded the Jefferson Award, a high honor given to individuals who do great work helping others.  Just this week, we learned that at the awards ceremony last week, he was one of five Bay Area awardees who was given a SILVER medal, meaning that his name will be forwarded to Washington D.C. for consideration among the national honorees.

Congratulations, Dr. Arbore!


Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Strand; thank you!

Dr. Patrick Arbore Receives Prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service

Patrick Arbore has been teaching at Notre Dame de Namur University for the past 25 years; literally thousands of students have benefitted from his wisdom and join staff and faculty in being inspired by his compassion, wisdom, and expertise in the field of gerontology, research methods, counseling skills, communication, and more.  Congratulations, Patrick, on this well-deserved honor!

The written article from the same broadcast, pasted below, can be found at KPIX here: SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — National estimates show a third of older Americans living in nursing homes suffer from depression, and 60% don’t receive any visitors. But this week’s Jefferson Award winner has created a one-of-a-kind program to lift their spirits.
Dr. Patrick Arbore says senior citizens represent 12% of the U.S. population, but 15% of all suicides. So he’s making changes, one phone call at a time.
“We recognize you, we acknowledge your presence in the community,” he said, as though addressing seniors. “You are not invisible to us.”
Arbore founded the Friendship Line in 1973. (To reach the Friendship Line in the Bay Area, call 415-752-3778. Nationally, the number is 800-971-0016.) He says the confidential service is the only 24-hour toll-free, nationally-accredited suicide prevention hotline for senior citizens. Each year, staff and volunteers answer 40,000 calls from all over the country, and return calls to follow up.
“We really wanted to convey we’re interested in you. And we want to talk to you,” he explained.   Arbore says even a short phone call — just five minutes — can help a person go from feeling lonely to feeling connected.   “Just one person who says ‘I’m here for you’ is profound.”
Past volunteers on the Friendship Line say Arbore has inspired them with his contagious love for older adults.   “He’s incredibly calm, incredibly compassionate, shows the power in just listening,” said Amy Preut.   “I hear all the time if it wasn’t for us, they don’t know where they’d be in their lives,” added Natalie Schroeder.
Besides the Friendship Line, Arbore also founded the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention 24 years ago at the Institute on Aging to provide grief counseling and support groups.
And to combat holiday depression, he leads Songs for Seniors, a cable car caroling program he started in 1986. Hundreds of volunteers cheer up hundreds of homebound elderly.
“It does something magical,” he said. “That’s why we started doing that.”
So for creating a lifeline of friendship for seniors in crisis, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dr. Patrick Arbore.
If you need someone to talk to, or know someone who does, please call or encourage that person to call the Friendship Line at 415-752-3778. Nationally, call toll free: 1-800-971-0016. Dr. Arbore wants all senior citizens to know we care, and you matter.

Faculty Spotlight: NDNU Professor Wins Prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service

Jefferson Awardz Patrick Arbore

We just found out that our very own Dr. Patrick Arbore was nominated and received the Jefferson Award for Public Service for his work in Human Services! KPIX Channel 5 will be airing an interview with him on October 15 at 6:00 and it will be repeated on Thursday, October 16 at noon and again on Sunday, October 19 at 7:30AM.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation was created in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, US Senator Robert Taft, Jr, and San Bears with the American Institute for Public Service as “the most prestigious prize for public service in America.”

More to come as we learn more…   Congratulations, Patrick!



Faculty Spotlight: THRIVE Speaker Series Features Jeff Cox

JeffIf you have taken a class with Jeff, including SBM’s Human Resources certificate, you know that this is a worthwhile seminar. Discounts to PSP students (ask at the door).


Forget Everything You’ve Ever Been Taught About Management!

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, 9:00am – Noon

851 Burlway Road, Burlingame – Presenter: Jeff Cox

Click HERE to Register
Learn how to use evidence-based management to help employees achieve amazing results. Participants will learn:

  •  What performance behavior actually is.
  • The differences between being an effective and a successful manager.
  • The performance problem solving steps that lead to effective employee coaching. What emotionally intelligent behavior actually looks like.
  • Why leadership can be measured.

For more information and to register, click on the link here. For more information about the speaker series, including the evening seminars, see the link here.

Faculty Spotlight: Upcoming Webinar with Tish and Therese


WHO: Dr. Patricia (Tish) Davis-Wick and Dr. Therese Madden, Presenters; Dr. Steven Cady, Bowling Green State University, Facilitator, Nexus4Change

WHEN: Thursday, September 18 at 11AM-Noon Pacific Standard Time AND Thursday, September 25 from 11AM-Noon Pacific Standard Time (a two-part seminar).

HOW: Free registration and participation at this link.  We are honored to partner with Nexus4Change, leaders in issues of global collaboration and change.

INTRODUCTION:  We work with and are inspired daily by the undergraduate students in our program.  They are over the age of 25, have years of professional experience, and are seeking to complete a degree begun as recently as a year ago or as long as 20 (or more) years ago.  When students walk into our offices to discuss enrolling in our program, we begin by asking them about themselves: what they do, what they want to do, where they are from, etc. They share incredibly varied but inevitably rich stories of lives often full of career and life experiences: jobs, families, travels, education, involvement in the community, and more. We never ask why they didn’t finish college in their early 20s, but they inevitably volunteer reasons that are broad and fascinating, though too often offered with apologetic explanations.  Rather than accept the premise that these alternate paths represent a deficit, we tell the students that their experiences indicate that they were “too interesting” to have wanted to finish college at 22. “Oh!” one student responded to that observation recently, “I never thought about it that way. I have done a lot of really cool things!”

In many ways these students could reinforce the argument, coming loudly of late from various educational reform circles, that college is irrelevant for today’s workplace or societal needs.  There is certainly no deficit in who these students are as professionals or as members of the community and by multiple measures they have indeed achieved considerable success without the benefit of a college degree. However, their own reflections before they graduate tell a different story, one that strongly reinforces the value of the degree and the importance of adjusting traditional structures within universities to create full access for these nontraditional students.

About two years after students begin, when they are seniors at the university, we engage them in rich dialogue as they reflect on their learning experiences as part of their senior capstone course. They prepare a portfolio in which they present compiled evidence about the relevance of the courses that they have taken. The thoughtful narratives that they present show both enthusiasm for their instructors and the deep value that they place on their course learning experiences, demonstrating that  college has indeed become both a deeply important part of who they are and relevant to their imagination about how they will appropriate their own futures.

Listen to the media or our politicians and you get the impression that there is but one way to experience college: as an 18-22 year old who moves away from home, lives on campus, and finishes a degree after four years of being a full-time student. And yet, depending on your definitions, nontraditional students compose up to 73% of today’s undergraduates in the United States, truly representing a new majority on college campuses.

In our webinar, we will explore the ways that the sheer numbers of nontraditional students represent a revolution on campus.  We will also explore the reasons that this change captures the very best marriage between traditional structures and the emerging movement toward having learners reclaim agency about what they learn and the relevance of that learning to their lives. We will cover the necessary changes that institutions and the faculty, staff, and advisors who work in them need to make to best empower learning for and with this new majority of college students.

To see this new majority succeed in imagining new worlds into being requires innovative thinking about teaching, advising, and otherwise supporting these students and we look forward to learning through conversation with the webinar participants. We are also very honored to be working with Nexus4Change, a fantastic organization that has adopted a mission of global change on a variety of important issues.

In the first part of our webinar series, we will discuss considerations related to teaching nontraditional learners.   Many educational institutions share a commitment to make education accessible; to truly do so requires meeting students where they are and developing teaching and administrative approaches that facilitate their progress toward individually appropriated goals.  We will explore means for doing so in the second week of this webinar, especially focusing on building a culture that embraces this new majority as a full and relevent part of the university community.

We are passionate about our students, for they inspire and teach us; we are eager to share our enthusiasm with you.  To read more and to register for this (free) webinar, please use this link.  We look forward to the conversation!

Faculty Spotlight: Alicia Santamaria on Teamwork

Alicia SantamariaFaculty member Alicia Santamaria recently wrote a guest post for CompassPoint, a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits to be more efficient.  Those of you working in or with teams might be interested in the entire article, which addresses some techniques for making teams work.

An excerpt:

In many organizations, I see managers and leaders challenged to deal with the interpersonal “conflict” situations that inevitably crop up between people. It can be enough to make some people want to stick their heads in the sand, which unfortunately is what happens sometimes. This avoids the situation in the short-term but the longer term implications for not tending to workplace misunderstandings, disagreements, and other conflicts can be quite damaging.

Those who are able to address situations in a timely and constructive manner and who can use their conflict competence to help people around them resolve their issues are a real asset to their teams and their organizations.

The full article is here and in it Alicia shares tips on building team agreements, explains what it means to be intentional about your organizational culture, and more.  This is relevant to everyone:  organizational leaders, individual contributors, those working on capstone projects and more.

Thanks, Alicia!  Well done.