Interview with Julia Soto Lebentritt

Julia Soto Lebentritt is a ‘lullabologist’ and the owner of Spontaneous Care Communications. She has spent her career recording, presenting and producing lullabies from the many cultures that make up our American society is commended for clarification of the lullaby as a genre and exploration of multicultural settings.  As an elder care case manager, bereavement facilitator, therapeutic activities director and a family member, she is a caregiver using lullaby traditions. She has certification in Alzheimer’s disease management and a master’s in fine arts in creative writing.


Interviewer:  Julia, it’s nice to talk to you today. We’ll talk about your book for caregivers, It’s called “As Long as You Sing, I’ll Dance: The Bond, not the Burden, the Blessing of Reciprocal Caregiving.” You draw on both professional and personal experience to write it. Can you give me a little background on that experience?

Julia Soto:  OK. The book is strongly motivated by my mother’s dementia that was a really traumatic experience for me and my family. I’ve always been involved with care giving in many different ways. I’m called a professional caregiver, meaning that I’ve worked in caregiving for the last 15 years or more, especially as an activities director at a CCRC and a case manager for the aging in a field position.

I was out in the field in northern Vermont. I’m also working now in bereavement at a community hospice. I have…I’ve worked in other positions that have been direct care, like nurse companion, and various ways that have been useful [inaudible 01:33] , but the major other part of this unique piece of my work is that it’s related to parenting, as well.

Interviewer:  You talk about reciprocal care giving. Is this a term that you’ve coined, or you’ve just developed? Can you tell me a little bit about what it means?

Julia:  I have…It’s my own method that I experienced. In the ’80s I had the opportunity through grants from several national, state, and local programs to develop a rather large project called, “The New York City Lullabies Project.” And in that I went out and recorded on‑site the actual soothing and relaxing of children. And I saw there that the partner, the adult partner, could not soothe or relax the child without soothing and relaxing themselves. So I saw the reciprocal care that is available in good attached…as good attachments and bonding in the parent child/relationship, so that means it’s a mutual thing. That there’s no way that you can quiet down another without quieting yourself first and soothing yourself.

So out of that came my experience of I went into healthcare facilities and worked. I saw that there was a stressed care going on. The caregivers were stressed. It was a stressful place, and that if they could come for heart‑to‑heart care.

And even on your website I noticed today that there’s a mention of a quote. A happy senior says, “What we noticed immediately was that the employees treated the residents as friends and in some cases family.” And so what comes naturally really is, for the human being, caring and kindness, but if not nurtured and maybe also helped along by being encouraged that we should be interested in present in the moment, that caregiving is not reciprocal. In other words you’re not caring for yourself at the same time as you are caring for another when you are not giving reciprocal care.

Interviewer:  OK. So tell me then about the lullabies, and how they have a place in care giving through reciprocal care giving.

Julia:  Yes. First of all, I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about the recorded lullaby with music. I am talking about music. I’m talking more about the ways that the kinds of communications that the lullabies encourage. So in my book I’ve actually done an interesting piece of work in breaking out what lullaby communications are like, so the book includes activities that relate to humming, rocking, swaying, singing names, traditions of gathering. That’s like storytelling, other ways that we can gather through traditions that we create, tapping, echoing gentle touch. So I’m talking about the communications that the lullabies encourage, as well as the singing of certain songs that are appropriate and are meaningful to the people we’re working with.

Interviewer:  You say in your book that people with Alzheimer’s or dementia remember feelings associated with places and people even if they don’t directly remember the place or the person. So would you say that your therapies are ways to elicit memories of those feelings? Or to create a safe and familiar platform?

Julia:  Yes, absolutely. One of the major points in the book is making is that it’s a myth that there’s nothing there at all. Memories are sensual, related to sensual experiences, and the problem is is that we have to accept that we can no longer communicate just with language as if it were in an office somewhere or that the caregiving can be tremendously creative like our parents were creative in caregiving, that we can actually find a way that brings us back to our more original language, which there were many options when we were growing up as children to use sound, touch, movement, and all of these will help bring back memories and physical activity as well. And that is profound. There have been many examples lately, especially on the Internet, the viral example of that elder that was having no response at all in a wheelchair, and then suddenly they played some jazz from his youth on some iPod, and he became totally electric and shared memories of seeing Cab Calloway, or someone like that. It’s amazing.

Interviewer:  It is. That’s really neat. Do you think just because we begin to rely so much on verbal communication that we forget these things?

Julia:  Definitely, yes, we very…and that’s what’s stressing our society or culture today. We were not really built for the speed that we’re moving at and the daily census that has to be kept at such a large number and the requirements of documentation. We were not really built for that, and we’re involved as caregivers and as human communication. Also I want to point out, Carrie, that the history here is important to look at because dementia was originally treated under psychiatric nursing, and geriatric nursing is a fairly new and emerging field. So, for instance, my Aunt Sadie ended up in a mental institution because she was senile, they said. And that wasn’t that long ago, that that was how we took care of people who begin to exhibit dementia, and couldn’t be left alone, you know?

Interviewer:  So your book is really useful for caregivers across the spectrum, whether you’re caregiving in your home or for people working in a facility.

Julia:  Yes, thank you. I just want to point out that I had an experience in a wonderful CCRC in Vermont, northern Vermont. Wake Robin is the name of it, and there we had a group of independent, and some assisted living people, who joined the St. Bernard’s. And they become caregivers of these skilled living facility residents. And they were companions using the kinds of activities that I’m proposing in my book. I recently was visiting and doing a program at a facility in Albany, at the Region House, and one of the elders went off happily with the book, because she said, “We can do this. We can do this. We can help other people. I know this song.” So I think the caregiver, the people who are in your facilities can caregive.

Interviewer:  Definitely.

Julie:  Yeah.

Interviewer:  Great. OK. Again, the book is called “As Long as You Sing, I’ll Dance: The Bonds, Not the Burden, The Blessing of Reciprocal Caregiving.” I can find that on Is that right?

Julie:  Yes, that’s true.

Interviewer:  OK. Thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate talking to you.

Julie:  OK. Thank you Carrie, and let me know what
Transcription by CastingWords

Top Assisted Living Facilities in Oregon

Oregon boasts one of the most diverse geographies of all the states of the U.S. The Cascade Mountains provide rugged, beautiful scenery. The Willamette Valley, home to Portland and bordering the coastline, includes rich, fertile farmland. Wherever you choose to retire in Oregon, you’re sure to look out on a beautiful view. An array of senior care communities offer independent, senior assisted living and specialized, dedicated care for residents with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other advanced health issues.  Whether independently owned or part of a managed group of assisted living homes in Oregon, the communities in this Top Assisted Living Facilities list offer trustworthy, competent, often award-winning care while fostering the residents’ individuality and independence. Service and amenities such as dining, healthcare and medication management, hospitality, transportation and social activities are designed to promote active, enjoyable retirement living.

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In alphabetical order, here are the Top Assisted Living facilities in Oregon.

The Amber, Clatskanie

365 SW Bel Air Drive

Clatskanie, OR97016

(503) 308-4088

While the staff at the Amber in Clatskanie focuses on the health and well-being of residents, those residents are free to pursue retirement to its fullest. The Amber boasts one of their strengths to be a very high staff-to-resident ratio, which leads to a low turnover rate. The community, a place where residents can live in private apartments with their own furnishings, truly becomes a family for those who live there, and the staff who cares for them.

Learn more at The Amber.


Arbor Place Senior Community
3150 Juanipero Way
Medford, OR 97504

(541) 773-5380

“Life is good” they say at Arbor Place Senior Community in Medford. From the high ceilings, natural light and comfortable common areas to the outdoor gardens and cozy fireplaces, the environment is second-to-none. And from the amount of doctor and family referrals, plus a 95 percent satisfaction rating from the residents themselves, Arbor Place Senior Community is one to check out when you’re considering senior living options.

Learn more at Arbor Place Senior Community.


Aspen Ridge Retirement Residence

1010 NE Purcell Boulevard

Bend, OR 97701

(541) 633-7324

Positioned just minutes away from Highway 20 and Highway 97, Aspen Ridge Retirement Residences is nearby medical offices, restaurants and shopping as well as PilotButteState Park. With residences that include independent cottages, retirement living, assisted living and memory care, adults in all stages of retirement find amenities, activities and an open, engaging community.

Learn  more at Aspen Ridge Retirement Residence.


Avamere at St. Helens

2400 Gable Road

Saint Helens, OR 97051

(503) 366-8070

Awarded for their quality by the American Health Care Association (AHCA), Avamere at St. Helens offers cottage-style senior communities, assisted living apartments and specialized dementia and Alzheimer’s care. Spacious apartments, a wide range of activities and access to 24-hour nursing care contribute to the high quality of life that Avamere at St. Helens residents enjoy every day. Positive testimonials from residents and their families recognize a job done well for the seniors who call Avamere at St. Helens home.

Learn more about Avamere at St. Helens.


we feature only the top assisted living communities and homes in OR

Bayberry Commons Assisted Living and Memory Care

2211 Laura Street

Springfield, OR 97477

(541) 603-9258

Each person at Bayberry Commons Assisted Living and Memory Care is encouraged to follow four basic goals: to be independent, to maintain family and community connections, to continue a pursuit of lifelong skills and interests and to expand one’s horizons through sharing and engaging in new experiences. All in a community providing compassionate, professional personal and medical care, Bayberry Commons ensures a comfortable and meaningful retirement.

Learn more ate Bayberry Commons Assisted Living and Memory Care.


Callahan Village & Cottages

1801 Garden Valley Boulevard

Roseburg, OR 97471

(541) 36-2607

Independent cottages and assisted living apartments make up the quaint village-like community of Callahan Village & Cottages in Roseburg. Whether you remain nearby and enjoy a morning exercise class, lunch with friends and afternoon tea, or you venture into Roseburg for medical appointments, shopping or restaurants, living at Callahan Village & Cottages makes life exciting. Join a project, volunteer or get involved in fundraising. Turn around and there’s a qualified, caring staff ready to attend to your needs as well.

Learn more about Callahan Village & Cottages.


Cambridge Terrace Assisted Living Community

2800 14th Avenue SE

Albany, OR 97322

(541) 928-9494

Cambridge Terrace Assisted Living Community in Albany, like the other communities operated by Bonaventure Senior Living, focus on giving their residents choice, independence and the feeling of home. They call it “Retirement Perfected,” and it means new friends, quality of life, amazing events, exceptional food, beautiful community and a talented team. Ninety-six percent of residents agree that a Bonaventure-owned community is a caring, lively and comfortable place to live.

Learn more about Cambridge Terrace Assisted Living.


Dorian Place Assisted Living Facility

375 North Dorian Drive

Ontario, OR 97914

(541) 889-8545

Relaxing and inviting, the atmosphere at Dorian Place in Ontario makes friends want to chat, families enjoy a visit and residents slow the pace and read a book. That’s not to say life needs to slow down. Amenities at Dorian Place include meals, supervision and housekeeping services, but also a wide variety of social activities and events that address the mind, body and spirit of each resident.

Learn more at Dorian Place.


we feature only the top assisted living communities and homes in OR

Farmington Square Senior Living

960 Boone Road SE

Salem, OR 97306

(971) 208-7671

Farmington Square Senior Living is an arrangement of small homes in a campus setting, offering a comfortable and intimate living environment. They offer award-winning Alzheimer’s programs, a home-like approach to assisted care and professional support for the social, emotional and physical needs of each community member.

Learn more at Farmington Square Senior Living.


Gillman Park Assisted Living

2205 Gilman Drive

Oregon City, OR 97045

(503) 563-4764

Gillman Park Assisted Living in OregonCity offers 102 apartment-style assisted living units, both private and semi-private occupancy. More than a place to live, GillmanPark is a place where staff is devoted to providing excellent caregiving to ensure residents are happy, comfortable and experience personal growth. Days are busy with bingo, crafts, exercise classes and friends, and professional help is on standby along the way.

Learn more about Gillman Park Assisted Living.


Hermiston Terrace

980 W. Highland Avenue

Hermiston, OR 97838

(541) 567-3141

The staff at Hermiston Terrace, operated by Emeritus Senior Living, works on the promise that they will treat each resident as they would treat their own loved ones. The cornerstone of Emeritus’s service, that level of care is extended to Hermiston Terrace, in the small eastern Oregon town of Hermiston. Just minutes from downtown and only 35 minutes from Washington State, Hermiston Terrace is truly a part of the community, in which local healthcare professionals are near and accessible, allowing residents to truly and comfortably age in place.

Learn more about Hermiston Terrace.


Jennings McCall Assisted Living Center

2221 Oak St.
Forest Grove, OR 97116
(503) 359-4465

The scope of care at Jennings McCall ranges from independent living to assisted living, progressive care and respite care. Their friendly, qualified staff includes on-site nurses, an in-house dentist, beauty stylists, food servers and front-desk staff. A visiting doctor provides regular care, and all residents benefit from housekeeping, delicious food and a schedule of interesting and engaging activities.

Learn more at Jennings McCall Assisted Living.


we feature only the top assisted living communities and homes in OR

Neawanna by the Sea Senior Living

20 North Wahanna Road

Seaside, OR 97138

(503) 470-6215

A charming location for both active, on-the-go individuals or for those needing a little more help with day-to-day activities, Neawanna by the Sea Senior Living provides quality care, nutritious food and spectacular surroundings. Including sandy beaches and shopping, a well-stocked library and senior center, there are options for each resident to make retirement fulfilling and fun through personalized services.

Learn  more about Neawanna by the Sea Senior Living.


Ocean Crest Assisted Living

192 Norman Ave

Coos Bay, OR 97420

(541) 982-4035

Just minutes away from the serenity of the Pacific Ocean is Ocean Crest Assisted Living in Coos Bay. The staff feels that after spending a lifetime perfecting the art of living, your retirement years are your chance to enjoy it, and at Ocean Crest Assisted Living, you don’t have to do it alone. Offering amenities and healthcare services to supplement your preferred lifestyle within a month-to-month rental agreement with no buy-in fees, residents receive the best in choices and hospitality.

Learn  more at Ocean Crest Assisted Living.


Pioneer Village

805 North 5th Street

Jacksonville, OR 97530

(541) 702-1804

PioneerVillage in Jacksonville provides a home-like setting for their residents. From independent living to assisted living, in-home care or respite care, the professional staff is there to help with daily tasks while you get the most out of every day. With a game room, fitness center, beauty/barber shop, library, theater room, café and more, PioneerVillage takes care of things you have to do, leaving the things you want to do.

Learn more about Pioneer Village.


Redwood Heights Assisted Living

4050 12th Street Cutoff

SE Salem, OR 97302

(503) 400-6447

Offering both retirement and assisted living services, Redwood Heights Senior Living recognizes that “sometimes all it takes to remain independent is a little help from day to day.” With Medicare-certified on-site physical rehabilitation, occupational and speech therapy and monthly health screenings and blood pressure checks, independent residents can remain that way. Additionally, staff may step in to provide assistance with activities of daily living. All the while, residents are encouraged to be active, socially engaged and live a full life.

Learn more at Redwood Heights Retirement and Assisted Living.


we feature only the top assisted living communities and homes in OR

Silver Creek Senior Living

703 Evergreen Road

Woodburn, OR 97071

(503) 980-4119

With specialty programs and care for individuals with dementia, Silver Creek Senior Living, in the beautiful WillametteValley in Woodburn, offers a truly therapeutic and restful retirement location. Personalized care and service is at the heart of the Senior Living Team Member’s purpose as they strive to provide stimulation, meaning, enjoyment and a healthy environment to their residents, from independent living to assisted living, to memory care residents.

Learn more at Silver Creek Senior Living.


SpringRidge at Charbonneau

32200 SW French Prairie Road

Wilsonville, OR 97070

(503) 925-4143

Taking up residence at SpringRidge at Charbonneau is like living in a French country manor, with its stunning architecture, well-tended gardens and attentive service to every fine detail. The staff ensures a full day of social, cultural and recreational activities to make every day interesting and engaging. Make use of the 27-hole golf course and tennis courts or settle into a comfortable chair and take in the surroundings.

Learn more at SpringRidge at Charbonneau.


Terwilliger Plaza

2545 SW Terwilliger Boulevard

Portland, OR 97201

(503) 299-4716

A community for residents 62 and older, TerwilligerPlaza, in the heart of Portland, offers luxury living in either The Tower or The Heights. Both customizable, and both supporting independent living with in-home services, rehab and wellness programs, the community is one that fully engages with the outside community, with members who donate over 6,000 hours each year to charitable and nonprofit organizations.

Learn more about Terwilliger Plaza.


West Hills Village Senior Residence

5711 SW Multnomah Boulevard

Portland, OR 97219

(503) 245-7621

West Hills Village Senior Residence is a Platinum Service community managed by The Goodman Group. Developed to provide the best in senior care, the program was launched as a landmark customer service, with specially trained staff. The facility offers a variety of floor plans, ranging from studio to a two-bedroom with two baths. Assisted living services include scheduled transportation, an “anytime” restaurant, encouragement to host family and much more.

Learn more about West Hills Village Senior Residence.

Best Assisted Living Facilities in Oregon

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Announcing the Winners of the 2013 ALTY Awards

We’ve got some big news! Winners for The 2013 ALTY Awards have been decided.

best senior living and senior care blog posts You the voters have spoken and you’ve chosen this year’s best senior care and assisted living blog posts and articles from across eight different awards categories. And you spoke loudly, with almost 5,000 votes being cast over the course of the three week voting period. And it was an exciting competition with many winners being decided by only a handful of votes.

So who are the winners? (drum roll please……) Here are your 2013 ALTY Award Winners!

We also announced runners-up and finalists in each category as well. To see all the final results and how the voting shook out in all awards categories, just click a category link below:

Congratulations to all winners, runners-up and finalists. And special thanks to everyone who voted and helped make this year’s ALTYs a rousing success

Did You Win an ALTY?

Were you a winner, runner up or finalist in this year’s ALTYs? Let the world know about your achievement by placing a custom badge on your website that you can find here: