Ever heard of a twiddlemuff? Imagine a soft, colorful knitted muff adorned with interesting buttons, bows and bits. This unique piece offers comfort and care to residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. When King-Bruwaert House Social Worker Megan Schaaf read an article on Facebook about the use of twiddlemuffs to engage residents, she quickly turned to members of our K-B knitting group, Operation Warm Hearts, and asked if they could create the muffs.
“As dementia progresses, fidgeting can become common and I have observed that some of our residents are often looking for something to do with their hands,” Schaaf explained. I felt like the twiddlemuffs could help to ease their boredom and anxiety – and encourage small motor movement, too.”
“K-B is fortunate to have our Operation Warm Hearts group,” Schaaf said, “and I thought this would be a project they might be willing to take on to benefit our residents.”
Member Rose Ann Hoof was immediately intrigued. A talented artisan with impressive knitting, crocheting and specialty skills, Hoof researched several twiddlemuff patterns and came up with her own rendition. First, she made several proto-types and then began to show them to other members.
“I created a pattern that was a little easier to follow and the effort turned out very well,” Hoof said. “I showed the muff and pattern to a friend (Mary Therese Hester) and she was glad to help, too.”
According to research, the twiddlemuffs (often called fidget muffs), encourage hands-on use and trigger brain stimulation. Patients find the muffs to be comforting and therapeutic – similar to a favorite stuffed animal or a cherished blanket. Hoof opted to attach old house keys to several of the muffs – the key being a common object that connects the person to home and security.
Those with dementia benefit from regular, repeated behaviors and activities. If residents become agitated or out-of-sorts whenever routine schedules or settings change, evidence shows the twiddlemuffs offer distraction from the unknown and help to soothe anxiety.
For Hoof and Hester, making the twiddlemuffs has been personally rewarding – especially in knowing that their efforts have a purpose.
“I like the whole idea of helping our residents and giving back to the community,” Huff said. “This is a project that makes a difference.”
By Don Gralen, Woods of King-Bruwaert resident
Long a civic leader and a proponent of community involvement, Don Gralen transitioned to our King-Bruwaert retirement community with a vision for quality care and services, socialization and happiness among new neighbors. Within a short time, Don found himself volunteering to lead several resident programs that have drawn equal interest among his newly acquired friends. Don endorses his ongoing commitment to activities by sharing meaningful purpose for himself and others:
“My wife, Jane, and I moved to K-B seven years ago. We brought with us the strong conviction that the paramount value in life is The Life of the Mind. To foster this at K-B, I started a Non-Fiction Book Club that meets every six weeks for a discussion of a book of my choosing. Recently, our group shared a lively discussion on “Hillbilly Elegy,” by J. D. Vance. I also spearhead a Current Events discussion group that meets monthly to share conversations on three or four topics. Recent gatherings have included talks on “black holes,” and “space probes,” for which research material was made available to participants in advance. I see these activities as life enriching contributions to life at K-B.”
As Don shares his interests with fellow K-B residents, he brings enlightenment to those who welcome opportunities to connect and converse with others. He helps to perpetuate The Life of the Mind – while engaging in expressive and intelligent discussions.
It is true that a massage can be described as a relaxation technique that can help ease muscle spasms, tension or stress. Yet massage therapy offers so many more core benefits that can relieve other symptoms that may need professional attention.
As a licensed and board-certified Massage Therapist, I have the experience and expertise to help people overcome many of the challenges associated with the aging process. Massage is known to help alleviate pain and inflammation. Therapeutic massage can also help lower blood pressure, enhance a person’s immune system, improve circulation and reduce arthritic discomforts.
I work cooperatively with physicians and medical staff to tailor massage therapy sessions that can help and support individuals. Physicians often prescribe specific massage treatments for their patients to promote the rapid healing of damaged cartilage, sore muscles, tissues or inflamed areas.
I’m privileged to have introduced massage therapy to King-Bruwaert House more than 25 years ago. Throughout the years, I have met many wonderful people who have entrusted me to be caring and responsive to their physical needs relating to pain relief and reduced tension. I encourage more residents, family members and friends to experience the value of massage as a recommended therapeutic option. Facial toning, sinus pressure relief and back pain massage treatments are also available. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (630) 323-2250, Ext. 9412; or (630) 368-2733.
By Kathy Kowal, Certified Massage Therapist
I’m not sure how it happened, but suddenly we are experiencing winter! The seasons changed quickly and the holidays are upon us. As a child, one of the best parts of Christmas is, of course, the gifts! The anticipation of what is inside those beautifully wrapped packages under the tree brings such excitement and joy. However, with maturity comes the realization that the best gifts you can receive are not found under the tree. As an adult child, one of the greatest gifts I received from my parents was that they made a plan for their retirement years and needs. They reviewed their options, health and resources and then looked to the future for what might come ahead for them. They made choices with their plan to prepare for the next stages.
I know, from a daughter’s perspective, that worry about a parent can be all-consuming, especially as they age and change. Health crises, physical ailments, dementia and even the death of a spouse – all of these can occur without warning. Without a plan, the family must do their best to make the right decisions – hoping that their choices will honor and respect the wishes of the parent. One of the hardest things for an adult son or daughter is to look at their aging parents and guess about their preferred care, lifestyle and medical plans. Here at K-B, we plan for the future of our residents by offering a full continuum of care levels, services and living options. We hope you will consider K-B while contemplating future health care needs and we urge you to give your children the greatest gift possible in planning ahead – the gift of peace of mind.
By Joan Metz, King-Bruwaert Director of Admissions
As Sally Robertson was sorting through family heirlooms, she came across some papers that had great personal value. She discovered information relating to her father’s Eagle Scout ranking in 1942. Although her dad, Bob Barnes, a resident of the King-Bruwaert retirement community in Burr Ridge, doesn’t remember much about his Eagle Scout ceremony, he does recall the meaningful activities and honor codes that helped develop his childhood as an active member of the Boy Scouts of America.
Throughout his life, Barnes exemplified the “honor of Scouting,” and so impressed his family members that both his son and grandson continued in his footsteps - advancing through the ranks to become Eagle Scouts themselves. Eagle Scouts must plan, develop and lead a service project that benefits an organization other than the Boy Scouts of America. The project must receive advance approval with specific requirements. Once the project is completed, the Eagle Scout candidate is required to give a presentation before his 18th birthday to a Scouting review committee. The Eagle Scout ranking is bestowed on the candidates that fulfill all the requirements and promise to continue a leadership and service-oriented path for the rest of their lives.
Jerome Barnes, son of Bob, became an Eagle Scout in 1969. For his project, Jerome made lifesaving equipment for the Clarendon Hills, Illinois Park District to use for a community pond that was frozen in winter. All those years of camping and preparedness in the great outdoors paid off with a service project that would potentially save lives.
In 2009, Jason Robertson, Bob’s grandson, approached his 18th birthday and became a third generation Eagle Scout after receiving encouragement and support from his Mom, Dad and grandfather. Jason planned a project to build and design an interpretive ¼-mile nature trail for Long Hunter State Park, a short distance from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. He created 10 descriptive stations along the trail with photos depicting the wildflowers, trees and land formations located along the route. Trail information also included a map that identified nature in the park. Jason received a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation to underwrite supplies.
The interest in Scouting runs deep in the Barnes-Robertson families. For three generations, they have made a commitment to lead exemplary lives and serve others – while continuing a bond that will forever keep them close and connected.
Throughout the summer, a group of King-Bruwaert residents participated in the BE! Brain Enrichment Course led by K-B Social Worker Megan Schaaf and Resident Experiences Specialist Shareen Klasing. The program was developed by Dr. Linda Sasser who holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology and has been a frequent guest speaker at K-B.
Dr. Sasser’s BE! Brain Enrichment Program consists of ten one-hour sessions aimed at helping participants improve and maintain memory function. Participants met once a week to be part of the sessions.
Throughout the ten-week series, residents learned how memory works and why, as we age, our brains may not always function as well as they did in the past. Group members were comfortable sharing their experiences with age-related forgetfulness and provided encouragement to each other. They practiced strategies to help combat age-related memory changes by participating in individual and group exercises that were both challenging and fun.
The BE! program brought so much positive feedback that Megan and Shareen are planning another session later this year. For more information on Dr. Sasser’s BE! Brain Enrichment program, visit her website at: www.brainandmemoryhealth.com.
Too much stuff. How do we accumulate so many boxes of papers, photos, clothes, books and memorabilia? Truthfully, it’s a slow, methodical process that began years ago. We attached sentimental value to items no longer needed. Rather than part with our keepsakes, we set them aside and watched the boxes multiply.
The thought of cleaning out the clutter and collectables can be overwhelming. Where do we start? How long will this take? Who can help us? What resources are available? We need a plan to make a change.
Here are a few simple guidelines to tackle the task of decluttering. First, we must detach ourselves from the treasures that touched our hearts. The only way to move forward is to let go of the past.
Make a commitment
Start with a daily or weekly time and day to go through personal belongings. Create a routine that supports your commitment. Show up on time to the front hall closet, the basement storage room, the garage or the packed attic. Make no excuses…commit to a regular time and place.
Be objective by necessity
OK, it’s hard to give up the cute Mother’s Day card your son made for you in kindergarten. Or the adorable letter your daughter wrote on a day of redemption. But your offspring will tell you to get rid of it all. They, and most of your friends and relatives, desire few, if any, items in your giant collection of sentimental gifts, used furnishings, collectables and papers. Look at it, smile and send it to the Toss stack. If you don’t need or use it, it’s time to let it go.
Make a little cash
Maybe Aunt Jean’s heirloom necklace has some value. Set it aside and have it evaluated. Antiques, coins, stamps, military items, old quilts and sports memorabilia should be looked at by the experts. Hold on to items you believe may have value and can translate to cash. Or, host a garage sale to sell a variety of goods that will find a new home. Ask friends for referrals about local dealers you can trust.
Contribute to charities
Many local charitable organizations would be happy to take your used dishes, china, tools, clothing and furniture. Make a list of possible charities and call them in advance to find out what they will accept. Be sure your donations are in good condition or the charity drivers may leave them at the door. Find out their pick-up times and dates so that you can plan ahead.
Give specific donations
It’s possible your church may need the piano that’s been sitting in your living room for years. Your dining room set may be the perfect donation for a family in need. Vintage posters, books and historic artifacts might be useful to a theme museum. If you want your items to be donated to a worthy cause or organization, you’ll have to do some research to determine the best options. You may also benefit from a tax-deductible donation.
Shop-a-holics love bargains – and often buy ahead for holidays and gift-giving. Once the household cleanse has started, it’s important NOT to fill in those open spaces. The only way to keep things tidy is to avoid the acquisition of more items.
Feel good about your progress
The great clean-up will give you a sense of peace, tranquility and accomplishment. You’ll have more room, less possessions and a clean, orderly environment. There’s so much to like about being neat and organized. Great job! Keep up the good work!
Journalist and President Emeritus of the Better Government Organization Andy Shaw Inspires Community to be Government Watchdogs
King-Bruwaert House and The Community House were pleased to host Andy Shaw, long-time head of the Better Government Organization (BGA), on Tuesday, April 17th at 11:30 am for a luncheon presentation in Hinsdale. Andy Shaw inspired the crowd to stay informed about our government because we have a right to ensure that our elected officials use our tax dollars fairly, wisely and ethically.
K-B House and TCH have teamed up over the last four years to bring entertainment and education to the active adults in their communities. “One of our goals is to bring quality programs to our residents that will keep them in touch with current event,” said Terri Bowen, CEO of King-Bruwaert house. “Andy Shaw did a great job discussing government and important issues.”
Kate Vogts, TCH Active Adult Director, welcomed the crowd and announced that donors, Anderson/Scott who have underwritten the speaker series at TCH. Assistant Administrator of K-B House, Julie Ryan, thanked co-sponsors Midwest Geriatrics LLC, Rytech, and Symbria for helping to bring this high-level speaker to our community. Bonnie Kohout, Director of Marketing at K-B House, introduced Andy Shaw to the record crowd of over 150 people.
The educated and engaged audience was eager to hear what Andy Shaw thought about the state of the government in Illinois and the upcoming election for Governor this fall. Andy Shaw reported that he has seen incremental changes in our elected officials and that in general, they make a better effort. In his nearly 10 years as President of the BGA, they have headed up 700 investigations and conducted 50 lawsuits, which has resulted in 200 changes being made to government in Illinois. The Governor race will be one of the most expensive races ever run with over $300 million spent on the primary alone. During these times of “fake news,”Andy Shaw encouraged attendees to check facts that politicians claim on bettergov.org before making any political decisions.
Andy Shaw remarked that his goal for the BGA is to have better government for their 100th anniversary, which is in 5 years. This is a worthwhile goal for him to pursue in his “retirement.”
KB’s Low Vision and Hearing Committee recently hosted a special Q&A session with Vision Specialist, Mae Michels. Ms. Michels’ years of experience working for the Lions Center for the Visually Impaired in California, the Spectrios Institute of Wheaton and the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education in Chicago have afforded her a vast array of insights and recommendations for those experiencing low vision. During her presentation, Ms. Michels shared a variety of ideas and resources with a group of K-B residents, while giving them an opportunity to ask questions, share their experiences and exchange tips of their own. It was an enjoyable and educational experience for all involved.
Ms. Michels opened the session by encouraging residents to be their own advocates. She pointed out that people don’t always look like they have a vision impairment. It is not a disability others can see just by looking at you. For this reason, it is important to ask for what you need. For example, if you are at a restaurant and order fish, ask the wait staff if you can give a different color plate or if they can place a lettuce leaf under the fish to help distinguish the food on the plate. White fish on a white plate would be a challenge for someone with a visual impairment. Being vocal about your needs is vital - and others may not know what you need unless you ask. As Ms. Michels said, “do not complain, but request!”
The group also discussed how to find ways to do the things you’ve always enjoyed with low vision. Taking advantage of services like Talking Books through the Library of Congress or listening to volunteers read your favorite newspapers and periodicals through CRIS Radio were good examples. Companies like American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. offer free catalogs that are filled with tools and gadgets to improve quality of life for those with low vision. A change in vision doesn’t mean your activities change – instead, adaptations can be made to help you achieve success in doing the things you love.
Other tips were shared including creating and maintaining an organization system that works for the individual; promoting adequate lighting in your environment; and decorating suggestions to help make your home low-vision friendly.