YOUNG AT HEART

IMG_2563I hope that you will be able to read many more blogs like this one! Our Club members not only have amazing brains but they are young at heart and love young people who have the “knack” to engage them, listen, share stories and entertain in that most human of ways.

It never ceases to amaze me the way that young people, (in the case of this story, teenagers), can engage and interact with our Club Members.  We were running both Connections and Compass classes on Tuesday and at some point merged them together. We will often do this when individuals express a desire to participate in a specific activity, or where we know from experience that there is benefit. Music and Art therapy are classic cases in point. Both can appropriately and significantly stimulate the brain, and both forms of therapy are fun! To watch our friends produce stellar artwork in our new ‘Blue Room’ is simply a revelation to be savored, and to hear them sing and dance with us is a joy impossible to explain with mere words.

So it was on this Tuesday when my good friend and volunteer, Bob, brought his visiting Grandchildren to Memory Matters. These are wonderful “kids” who have visited us before and know what to expect and, importantly, how to help make a difference. Rachael, Sarah and Luke were really welcomed by our Club members and were entertained by first Rachael, on the clarinet, and later by Sarah on the piano. Luke did not have his saxophone with him this time, but he has performed in the past. Rachael’s rendition of the “Music of the Night’ from the Phantom of the Opera was simply fabulous.

I have to add that the kids Grandpa Bob tried really hard to master the background music technology, but judging by his grandchildren’s smiles and laughter, this is a learning process! The above photo shows Rachael and some of our Club Members and volunteers enjoying the moment. Remember that you never know when a moment will become a memory for our Club members.

The next photo shows just how good Volunteer Bob is at shag dancing when he entertained us to his best impersonation of “Fred Astaire” while Cathy (a Club member) was his “Ginger Rogers”.

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Then Rachael took over again with a little sophisticated music.

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After which Bob returned to his role of compere and told a few of his stories and, as they say in Las Vegas, once heard by the Club Members, these stories stay in Memory Matters! You can see that Rachael enjoyed the stories, but I just hope that she didn’t tell them to Bob’s wife Carrie!

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Not content with music alone our young friends ran a competitive bingo session with Luke an admirable number caller. Suffice to say every Club member was a winner.

Do you have children or grandchildren seeking to engage in rewarding and fun community activity this summer? It’s always good to add to their resumes. We have opportunities this summer for volunteering and we are flexible on times. If you know of students who would like to volunteer at Memory Matters please call Cathee Stegall or Pat Cleary at 1 843 842 6688. Thank you for your consideration.

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Last Tuesday really was a fun and memorable day. We were honored to receive representatives from the Friends of Callawassie who came to view the outstanding therapeutic art program led by our Artist-in-Residence, Art Cornell,  and our own Cathee Stegall. The Friends of Callawassie Island are supporting our Therapeutic Arts program with a grant for art materials/supplies. They observed the artists in action and left with signed, original artwork. A huge THANK YOU to them!

Left to right in the photo below are Sheila Strand (Executive Director Memory Matters) Cathee Stegall (Memory Care Specialist) and from the Friends of Callawassie Mike Anderson and Nancy Sinick.

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Additionally our Club members enjoyed news, stories, information, music trivia and singing with “Bob and Mike in the morning”, followed by exercise to music and, singing and dancing with Kirby Sullivan and friends aka the Memory Matters Merry Minstrels!

For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test, please call 1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality.

Vision: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness

Mission: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, care-givers in the Low Country community

ARE YOU AN OPTIMIST?

I can do itSome days are definitely better than others! In our Connections program, some days are amazing and you don’t want the day to end because of the electricity in the room and first class contribution from the Club Members themselves.

We live for days like these. When our Memory Care Specialist and Program Director – Cathee- briefed us on the theme for the upcoming day, I had an inkling that this might be a really good day. The theme being “Optimism”. However I had no idea just how dynamic and dramatic the day would be.

Cathee started by comparing optimism and pessimism and seeking to find out how our Club Members and volunteers perceived themselves. She briefly described how we should avoid negative thoughts and the “Cortisol Connection”. For those who have attended our Brain Boosters program we know that cortisol is a potent chemical that surges when we become stressed or worry over nothing. Research has shown it can act like a drug and shrink human brains. Cortisol shuts down learning, creates anxiety and can cause depression.

We talked about worry. Did we mean worry or did we really mean “concern”?

Some of us admitted that we worried about our children even in later life when they have children of their own; and we all worried about the world in which our grand children will live when we are gone. The ‘trick” being to turn that worry into a positive, or an opportunity. This was the moment when our Club Members stepped up, and before Cathee could go into her pre-planned program, we changed course!

One gentleman suggested that we break the discussion into three separate elements: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. We did so and there followed a great discussion where everyone seemed to want to contribute quite profound thoughts. So below this paragraph I am posting a replica of the thought process that evolved, and which we recorded in précis form.

OptimismFollowing the debate we completed a questionnaire specially structured to determine whether we were naturally pessimistic, or slightly or strongly optimistic. The results probably surprised some since nearly everyone was determined to be at least slightly optimistic and many very optimistic, even though these Club Members had earlier perceived themselves to be less than optimistic!

Later in the morning, after our yoga session left us relaxed and mellow we chose to sing some positive songs chosen by the Club Members and  these included: “I’d like to teach the  world to sing in perfect harmony”, “You raise me up” and “The Wind beneath my wings”. Later in the afternoon we closed with “Wonderful World” and “Happy Together” by the Turtles!

After lunch Cathee found time to return to the theme and asked us to list all the things we find positive now we are older (and maybe wiser)!

It was an interesting list and as one Club Member called Tom reminded us, “its an infinite list and we have to find space and time to continue to extend it”!

I repeat, in no particular order:

  • Medicare
  • Grandkids
  • Discounts
  • Going to bed when we want
  • Getting up when we want
  • White hair
  • No need to visit the barber
  • The sense of being alive
  • Relaxing
  • Children invite you to dinner!
  • Good health
  • Easier parking
  • Time to self
  • More choices
  • More time to try new things
  • Learning to play music
  • Learning to dance
  • Learning to sing
  • Reading more books
  • Travel to new places
  • Making new friends

Yes, we agreed with Tom, the list is endless. Tom told me that even busy working people  should be able to find ‘space’ to do most of the above, but it seldom happens. Retirement opens up the choices, or perhaps facilitates the optimistic thought patterns. Good choices today open up infinite possibilities for tomorrow, and so I repeat my favorite mission moment quotation from Dr. Seuss:

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Being a volunteer at Memory Matters has certainly introduced me to new friends, both staff and Club Members, and days like today help to keep us all positive and feeling young!

I could not finish this blog without a mention of one of our Club Members who was celebrating his 60th Wedding Anniversary. Cathee, Karen and I were present when he presented his wife with a lovely bouquet of roses. It was a very special moment and capped off a super day.

IMG_2481.JPGPlease share this if you believe it would help someone. Call 1 843 842 6688 Memory Matters office for more information. It’s always confidential. We offer memory screening too. We are a phone call away here in your local community.

SOMETIMES SAYING “THANK YOU” IS SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH!

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This blog is intended to give a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who contributed their time, talent and treasure to making our signature Gala – “April in Paris” – such a great success!

Let me start by thanking the renowned Fine Artist Amos Hummell (see above) for gracing our 20th Anniversary Signature Gala held on April 25th at Sea Pines Country Club. Amos gave a live painting exhibition and his beautiful donated work was auctioned during the evening.

This was a truly wonderful evening where the Lowcountry community came together and made a significant donation to our not-for-profit Brain Wellness and Memory Care resource.  In excess of $100,000 was raised for Memory Matters through the goodwill, generosity and pure human kindness of many, many people.

My words of thanks include everyone. By emphasizing this word I include all those people who could not attend the Gala but thoughtfully and generously donated to the event. It would be impossible to list all the names, but you know who you are! Thank you all!

Similarly there were so many kind and anonymous donors present at the Gala. Your generosity was tremendous. Again, I cannot list names, but as my wife’s Irish family would say, thank you a thousand times. 

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To our event sponsors, we reach out once more and say “thank you so much”. Without your financial support we could not have been so successful. 

At the top of this list of sponsors are our wonderful Dosal Family friends who gave at the Platinum level. Brookdale, Benton House, and Bloom Senior Living gave generously at the Gold level, and at the Silver level we also received generous donations from Beacon Insurance Group, Boys Arnold & Company, Coastal States -Raymond James, Kroger, South State Bank and Tidewater Hospice.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special “THANK YOU” to Sea Pines Resort who helped secure some imaginative auction items and to Whole Foods who provided 8 dozen roses to help beautify the venue.

To the Board of Directors of Memory Matters who graciously gave of their time, talent and treasure: thank you!

Thank you to those community volunteers who serve on some of our committees. We value your input and efforts on our behalf.

I saw a number of our regular Memory Care Center volunteers at the Gala and for everything you do for our care givers and their loved-ones in the Memory Care center, another thousand thank yous!

Last and by no means least a special thank you to the Memory Matters staff who worked tirelessly on their day jobs and the Gala. As a volunteer in Memory Care, you are my friends and I am proud to be able to work alongside such a passionately dedicated team of people.

For those of you in the Lowcountry who may be reading about Memory Matters for the first time, or are someone who knows of our well-respected contribution to the local community and are interested in updating yourself, I will briefly touch on the key note address given by our Executive Director Sheila Strand. Sheila took over the reins from Eddy Hoyle who retired this year. Over a twelve year period Eddy did a fantastic job establishing Memory Matters as we know it today, and she will never be forgotten.

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Now in a short space of time Sheila Strand has already inspired her team to pursue exciting new initiatives and to grow our service offerings still further. In her address Sheila spoke of:

Our VISION:

Memory Matters Optimizes Brain Wellness.

Our MISSION:

Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, caregivers and our Lowcountry community.

“Brain Wellness”. We already provide community education for brain wellness. It’s more than what some might call brain health. Wellness has been described  as a state of “being”, whereas health is about our “body”.  These are perhaps semantics so let me use my own words to review Sheila’s address. Let’s consider this holistically but in a practical way.

Many of us attend a gym and work out. Some of us just walk, jog, ride a bike or practice yoga. We then monitor our weight, muscle build up and BMI (body mass index). We are complimented for loss of weight and muscle build up, and then we are chastised by the physical training experts for an increase in BMI! Wow! We need to eat more regularly and more often and sometimes simply more! We always need to balance carbohydrates and protein.

With our heads reeling from all this knowledge we are now encouraged to adopt a southern Mediterranean diet! Now that is a pleasure, and anyone reading my recent blog on the nutritious value of Italian food can perhaps start to relax a little! Even drink a glass of red wine in moderation.

All of the above makes eminent sense to those of us who are determined to maintain their fitness for life as the years seemingly move faster by. These fitness and nutrition plans are so important and are frequently adopted, but how many people do you know who deliberately combine brain wellness programs with exercise and nutrition? How many have daily plans to exercise their brain?

If you would like to know more about this subject then please call us and make an appointment to speak confidentially to one of our Memory Care Specialists. By adopting simple techniques and programs we can help you to develop a holistic plan.

My wife and I like to think that our aging memories are relatively intact, but we both benefited hugely from the Brain Boosters program last year and, speaking as a person who volunteers twice a week in our programs, I am constantly learning and finding new ways to exercise my brain. In fact I would recommend volunteering at Memory Matters to anyone looking to give back to the community and, at the same time, improve your own brain wellness.

So please continue to follow these blogs as I seek to describe the evolution of Memory Matters in our community. We are not short on ideas, knowledgeable people or motivation to succeed. We are also “listeners” and I would encourage you please to call us with your ideas and needs.

We are not just based at 117 William Hilton Parkway! We are constantly moving through the community from Hilton Head to Bluffton, Sun City and beyond. We are educating through our Purple Angel project and teaching sensitivity where appropriate. We are developing new brain wellness programs which we can bring closer to your home.

In summary: our vision to optimize brain wellness is evolving, and our mission to optimize brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals and care-givers in the Low Country community is taking place now!

We desire to partner with you to spread the message that our brain wellness education is available to all.

Let me finish by reiterating my thanks to EVERYONE who contributed to our Gala in a modest or substantial manner. You are all important to us at Memory Matters and your visible renewal of confidence in our future was truly humbling. 

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!

Please share this if you believe it would help someone. Call 1 843 842 6688 Memory Matters office for more information. It’s always confidential. We offer memory screening too. We are a phone call away here in your local community.

WE NEED YOU TO VOLUNTEER!

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Let me get right to the heart of the matter. We need more volunteers please!

For all those fine people who have patiently and generously read my blogs over the past year and clicked the “like or love” button on Facebook, or even shared a post with friends, I am now appealing for your help please! 

Let me explain.

Memory Matters has a loyal group of volunteers who give of their time and talents to help those less fortunate than themselves. Frankly speaking I am referring to the caregivers whose loved ones suffer from a dementia or Parkinson’s disease or both. Everything the volunteers achieve in the daycare programs, (our Connections and Compass Clubs), is directed towards giving respite to the caregivers and allowing them time and space to take care of themselves. Being a care giver (sometimes I call them care partners) to someone suffering from say, Alzheimers is a really tough challenge in life. I have some personal experience, having cared for my Mother in England last year. She suffered terrible physical problems added to which her dementia had kicked in too.

Alzheimer’s is still the disease without a cure, and until there is one, Memory Matters will continue to offer our local Low Country community a memory care resource that is second to none. Now in our 20th year, we continue to develop new programs and refine existing  programs both for the caregivers – through counseling and support groups – as well their loved ones in Connections or Compass.

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Through our Connections Club program we are endeavoring to extend the time those loved ones can spend at home with their families by challenging their brains and giving that 3lbs of “squidgy” muscle some serious exercise! The people who attend Connections are often recently diagnosed with Alzheimers or another dementia, or are simply suffering from a mild cognitive impairment. If we can bring them to us as early as possible we know we can extend their quality years. We use socialization, challenging but fun games, music and art therapy, as well as brain stretching puzzles and various “mind games” to stimulate the brain. We emphasize nutritious healthy eating (the Mediterranean diet I wrote about last week), and add exercise to the mix. Often this is a professionally led yoga routine.

The disease with no cure is not going away and the baby boomer generation is in its  “head-lights”. So having recently completed a remodeling of our building to create more usable space we are expanding  our offerings. More programs and more people per week.

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The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Ghandi

We need you to volunteer please!

I can tell you from personal experience that you might be apprehensive on the first day, but that soon disappears when you realize just how rewarding and fun (!) being a Memory Matters volunteer can be. One of our volunteers- Lindy -has been with us for eight years and comes in four days a week. His wife once attended Memory Matters before she passed away, and as a caregiver himself he found the respite time something to treasure. Similarly, my close personal friend Bob who leads the “Bob and Mike in the morning” news hour on Tuesday’s has been a volunteer for five years. He tells the same story as Lindy after a family member attended our programs. This Navy Pilot veteran loves giving back and the Club members love him too. The Compass Club members are his friends.

In celebration of National Volunteer Month:

Spring into Spring and please join us at our Volunteer Fair, on Tuesday March 28th.

There is no commitment. But please come and check us out.

OPEN HOUSE 3:30 – 5 pm
Venue: Program Headquarters, 117 Wm Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head Island.

In summary:
Memory Matters improves the quality of life for families and persons living with memory loss. We are volunteer-driven and need loving hands and hearts to help with our fun and active social-model day programs; Connections and Compass. You will have a blast while making friends and, very importantly, while making a difference! We also need office and kitchen volunteer support.
We will match your schedule and needs.

For more information, contact
Jan Smith at 843-842-6688, Ext. 1014
jan@memory-matters.org

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Please share this if you believe it would help someone. Call 1 843 842 6688 Memory Matters office for more information. It’s always confidential. We offer memory screening too. We are a phone call away here in your local community.