Laura Ellen Christian

Laura Ellen Christian
Laura Ellen comes to AGE-u-cate with 17 years of experience in the senior living industry. She began her career as an Activity Director for a senior living community, which quickly led to the opportunity to an expand her reach. For the past 14 years she has led The Arbor Company in the development and implementation of comprehensive dementia training programs for care partners and innovative engagement programs for seniors at large. “As evident in my tenure with the Arbor Company, I take pride in aligning myself with well-rounded, compassionate people. I quickly found that connection with the AGE-u-cate team several years ago and feel fortunate to open the next chapter of my career with this organization.” Laura Ellen leads the strategic development of AGE-u-cate’s brand awareness, product accessibility across market channels and quality collaborative partnerships. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia and lives in Smyrna, GA with her husband and two boys.
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Recent Posts

Elevating Human Connection: How Hospice Organizations Use Compassionate Touch to Build Community

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Nov 17, 2022 12:00:00 PM

Recently I had the pleasure of connecting with Alena Dailey,  Integrative Arts Manager for  Hospice of the Chesapeake while hosting AGE-u-cate's quarterly chat for Compassionate Touch® coaches.  Have you ever connected with someone and instantly felt a sense of comfort?  Like you've known this person forever, but you just met?  That's what it was like talking to Alena!  She's passionate about elevating quality of life for elders and creative in how to accomplish her mission.  Here's a simple yet powerful quote from Alena:

A lot of people forget patients still need human touch” 

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Topics: compassionate touch, human connection, compassionate leadership, compassion culture

Dementia Community Outreach: How Area Agencies on Aging Use Education to Build Community

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Oct 6, 2022 12:00:00 PM

Last Spring I had the pleasure of connecting with Ellie Webb,  Dementia Care Specialist for the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of the North in Wisconsin.  That connection led to an in-person visit to train Ellie and 9 other team members from surrounding counties supported by the ADRC of the North to become Dementia Live® Coaches. Apart from the beautiful drive through rural Wisconsin as I made my way to the tip of the state on the coast of Lake Superior, spending time with such passionate people anchored in a similar mission to ignite change for their communities filled by buckets and my soul!  View my full LinkedIn post for more pictures. 

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Topics: Dementia Live, Dementia Live®Training, Dementia Care Outreach Education

Sales & Marketing Tips for Senior Services: 5 Steps to Know Your Customer’s Needs

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Sep 22, 2022 12:00:00 PM


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Topics: Flashback Reminiscence Training

Basic Skillsets for Care Partners: Are We Getting It Wrong?

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Aug 25, 2022 12:00:00 PM
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Topics: Caregiver Training, quality of life, caregiver education

Two Ways To Unleash Innovation & Increase Productivity In The Workplace

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Jul 21, 2022 12:00:00 PM

 

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Topics: leadership

Compassionate Leadership: Building MORALE

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Jun 2, 2022 12:00:00 PM
Cultivating my ability to be a good leader has been 18 years in the making, and what I've learned most is that becoming a good leader is a journey, not a destination. And a key ingredient is cultivating compassion.
 
As an executive for a senior living management company, I was directly responsible for a team of six people and indirectly responsible for each Engagement Director across a 40+ community landscape. That's almost 50 people who were relying on me in some way to be a good leader! Luckily, I worked for a company that prioritized people and consistently created a culture anchored in a growth mindset. 
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Topics: compassionate touch, Caregiver Burnout, cultivating empathy, compassionate leadership, growth mindset

10 Ways To Elevate Engagement Professionals

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on May 3, 2022 9:54:55 AM

1. Your Program is More Than a Calendar
The calendar is only 25% of engagement in your community. The remaining 75% is just as critical; resident discovery, fostering new and ongoing relationships between staff to residents and staff to staff, communication tactics, and partnerships with the greater community.


2. What if Residents Had a More Active Role in the Planning Process?
The approach to creating a calendar can look different! Resident designed. Weekly approach versus monthly approach.

3.Community Engagement = Collaboration
Interdepartmental collaboration between programming/activities, dining/culinary, sales, and marketing to ensure experiences are designed to be elevated and engaging and marketing and sales know-how to how to share via media and with prospective residents and families.

4. Turn Your Gaze Inward
Your greatest asset lives and works in your community….the residents and staff! Both are filled with passions and skills that can enhance community engagement. We cannot plan a life “for” someone, instead, it has to be “with.”

5. Stop Buying “Stuff”
Budget-friendly program opportunities….movement, breathing, going outdoors, gratitude, and building connections and what about being green and environmentally friendly.

6. Learning About the Growth Factor
Activities versus Programs….know the difference.


7. Boardroom Confidence
Take a seat at the table….how to make a business case for your needs.


8. Engagement Begins with Discovery
Resident discovery….what do you want to learn? Where does this information “live”? Who can access this information? How often do you update it?


9. Don’t Take it Personal – Level Up
Leaving the past in the past! How to move forward thoughtfully and professionally.

10. Self-Advocacy & Professional Development
Find a mentor! LinkedIn, fellow senior living colleagues, etc. Find someone who teaches you to have the confidence and demeanor to advocate for yourself with facts and data, not losing your composure and becoming emotional.



I posted an article on LinkedIn sharing perspectives on how engagement professionals can maintain the traction gained of respect and enhanced quality during the pandemic.  Check it out for a free download of/ a Tips for Elevating Engagement Professionals handout as well as a full recording of a recent conversation with Sara Kyle and Kelly Stranburg with LE3Solutions and myself!  You're sure to find encouragement, best practices, and next steps as you continue the good work in your community.  AGE-u-cate and LE3Solutions are here to support you!

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Topics: resident engagement, quality of life, employee engagement

Age-u-cate Featured on SeniorTrade

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Sep 28, 2021 1:54:20 PM

AGE-u-cate thrives on relationships, whether that be with aging services providers or industry partners.  

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Topics: culture change, Alzheimer's disease, dementia care training, education and training, staff retention, microlearning, experiential training

Mildred's Lessons: Final Thoughts

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Sep 8, 2021 9:24:53 AM
Lessons I've learned from grandmama Mildred are endless, but I'll finish with sharing a few connected to her final days.  These two stories, while representative of her final days, also speak to the culmination of Mildred's life: unconditional love, endless laughter and unwavering faith.  
  • Be ok with just being compassionately present. Towards the end of my grandmothers life, my family was all gathered at my aunt's house where my grandmother lived her last days.  In those final days, grandmama Mildred was in and out of awareness that we were there. On this day, we had taken her outside to lay in a swing - the sun was shining and there was a wonderful breeze with birds singing.  She loved being in nature!  My mom was helping her eat ice cream and trying to get grandmama to engage with us. “Is it good, mama?”  “Here’s some ice cream” “Is it good?” is what my mama kept saying, over and over.  After a bit my grandmother all of the sudden opened her eyes, looked at my mom and said in a snarky tone, “Is it good? Is it good?”.  In her always hilarious way, she was telling my mama to shut up and let her enjoy the ice cream!  Not that my mom was trying to be annoying - we were all so desperate to make sure grandmama knew we were there.  After that moment, we knew she could always feel (and hear!) us! 

    Lesson learned: sometimes just sitting quietly is enough.  The person can feel your presence through touch and a thoughtful environment set-up. 
  • Look for the signs, they often come at unexpected times.  On the day grandmama Mildred took her last breath, my family was gathered around her bed.  It was a hospital bed we rented and we had it pushed up to the king size bed in the room.  On the king bed was me, my mom, several of my aunts and my 2 sisters.  We were playing hymns and music that my grandmama loved.  On Eagle's Wings, a familiar Catholic hymn was playing and as we were all singing the chorus - "And he will raise you up on eagle's wings...", my grandmother began to raise up.  It was a chaotic few moments until we realized that my aunt was laying on the hospital bed remote!  We all burst into hysterics and knew that was grandmama Mildred, playing one last joke on everyone.  And bringing laughter into the room as she always did. 

    Lesson learned: The time will come to say goodbye.  Even in that moment, find joyful ways to connect and cope.

Dying and death is often viewed as a scary and sad turn of events.  And while losing someone we love is sad, the truth is that we're all going to die at some point.  There, I said it!  A recent post I ran across on LinkedIn shared the concept of maraṇasati, meaning mindfulness of death.  It's a Buddhist meditation practice that often includes incorporating various visualization and contemplation techniques focused on the nature of death.  From what I could gather, the intent is to bring more awareness to your present moment and encourage you to live life as if there is no tomorrow.  No regrets!  And if you practice Christianity, you believe that with death also comes eternal life.  There is comfort in knowing the rest of your days will be spent with Jesus and others who have gone before you.  For my family, we take comfort in the latter.  And that is something that my grandmama Mildred instilled in all of us.  And I'm lucky that those roots continue to run deep through my mama.  If you're reading this, mama, grandmama would be so proud of how you continue to guide our family in strong faith!  

I'm also intrigued by maranasati and look forward to researching that more.  How do you cope and find comfort in times of loss?  There is no right way, and sharing may help others!  Be sure to leave a comment.  And, if you'd like more information on death and dying, check out a previous blog or reach out to me.

For the article I saw on LinkedIn about maranasati, click here.  And if you need a "lift" today, here's the song, On Eagle's Wings!  

To view the previous post introducing my grandmother and our family's journey caring for her, check it out here.

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Topics: dementia care, dementia education, peoplefirst, caregiversupport, stronger together, dyinganddeath

A Family's Journey to Better Care for People Living with Dementia

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Sep 1, 2021 9:09:36 AM

I mentioned my grandmother briefly in my last post and I would love to share more about her!  Her name was Mildred and this year she would have celebrated her 101st year around the sun.  She was was the pillar of our family and barrel of fun!  I can see her infectious smile now, dancing in the kitchen singing "If I'd known you were coming, I would've baked you a cake"!  Most of my memories of grandmama Mildred involve her journey living with dementia.  She taught our family so much in the 8+ years she lived with dementia.  Her sense of humor never ceased and was a critical piece in allowing grace to shine bright through it all.  And boy did we need grace - we didn't always get it right.  That's life.  

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Topics: dementia care, dementia, caregiving, Caregiver Training, family caregivers, Compassion, Family Education, dementia training, dementia education, Dementia Awareness, communication skills, education and training

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