May Wellness Update
Self-care is not a luxury, nor is it an option. 
Ten years ago this month we hosted the first caregiver wellness day in Ann Arbor. After many years of working closely with adults with dementia, my professional shift toward creating wellbeing programs for care partners was significant and meaningful personally as well. With generous support from donors and a welcoming partnership with Matthaei Botanical Gardens, we had a beautiful home for offering new programs in the community and an uplifting, healing space for exhausted caregivers. For eight wonderful years Matthaei was the primary classroom for our wellbeing groups and training classes. While it was an ideal environment to work and gather, it was also limited to local caregivers. When the pandemic arrived, we hustled to move everything online to provide the same programming and opportunities to learn and connect virtually. While it had been a longtime wish to create wellness programming online, it felt abstract and hard to imagine prior to the pandemic. With so much disappointment and fear, we were relieved and encouraged to discover how connecting and accessible virtual programming can be. Not as a second or lesser way of providing support, but as a different and far reaching -- not to mention convenient -- platform for understanding, learning and sustaining community.  

Matthaei remains the most beautiful program location in our area, but for now, our virtual home is the most inclusive. Our program membership has expanded to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and even the East Coast since moving virtually. We're also excited to share that in the last year, we've added four new programs: Living Grief, Mitten Minds Support Group and Education Series, Cultivating Creativity and this month’s new program, CALM Connections.

As we celebrate 10 years of programming, it brings us great excitement to share the launch of our new virtual wellness platform, CALM Connections. We’d like to invite you to visit CALM Connections, a free, self-paced wellness site for family caregivers exploring themes for coping with stress, loss and change, while maintaining wellbeing. We offer several in-depth modules which include practices, peer connection and additional resources for learning and living with uncertainty as a dementia family caregiver. The topics emphasized in CALM Connections are themes collected over many years of learning and working alongside care partners through their many years of caregiving. It’s just the beginning though we’ve certainly come a long way to get to where we are now. We hope you will find it valuable, and share it with other caregivers, near and far. 
Finally, in honor of this 10 year milestone and personally, my 25th year as a clinical social worker, I would like to share 10 life-changing lessons from care partners. 

10 Life Changing Lessons

  1. The people who will be there when you need support may surprise you.
  2. The fears you have will likely play out much differently from what you suspect, or not at all.
  3. Grieving is ongoing and part of wellbeing practice.
  4. Self-care is not a luxury, nor is it an option. 
  5. Boundaries are not for others, they are for you. 
  6. Making the best decisions for you and your partner will likely upset someone you love. 
  7. As best you can, let go of how things should be and attune to how things really are. 
  8. Remember your connection to the natural world.
  9. It’s OK to let go of promises made early about future decisions when they are no longer appropriate. 
  10. Caregiving may be required. Losing yourself in the care of another is optional.

For details on each of these lessons, please click the button below for a full PDF.
Thank you for your continued support, interest and participation in the Wellness Initiative! We hope to see you at one of this month's (virtual!) programs.
—Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW
Managing Director, Wellness Initiative
Upcoming Program Registration
Catching Your Breath

May 9, 10 - 11:30 a.m.
Catching Your Breath is a monthly program focused on learning and practicing stress resilience skills for continued health, balance, and well-being. The program is for family caregivers of adults living with a dementia.
Mitten Minds Support Group
May 17, 3 - 4 p.m.
The Mitten Minds Support Group is a monthly support group for individuals with mild cognitive impairment or early stage dementia. The support group provides a space for individuals living with memory loss to meet and learn from others going through similar experiences.
Have a Seat

Thursdays from 12 - 12:30 p.m.

Have a Seat is a weekly guided meditation program. Would you like to receive weekly email reminders to join the program? Subscribe here to receive.
Announcing CALM Connections Online Learning Platform
We are thrilled to launch the CALM Connections online learning platform for dementia family caregivers. CALM Connections brings together wisdom from caregivers we've gotten to know over the past 10 years. Based around key themes, the platform offers video modules, print handouts for further topic exploration, and more to support the development of key skills that support caregiver wellbeing. A key part of the support process is also the opportunity to connect with others, and CALM fosters this community in a safe and private way. This is a truly unique initiative to support dementia family caregivers, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to share these resources with the larger dementia community. 
New Wellness Programs
Cultivating Creativity 
June 7, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. 

Cultivating Creativity is a monthly arts program for persons living with memory loss and their family caregivers. Participants will enjoy an instructed and dementia-friendly art activity together. Projects include painting, print making, ornament and coaster decoration, and cardmaking among other activities. The program is currently offered in person.
CALM Conversations 

July 28, 1 - 2:30 p.m.

Conversation Topic: Grieving through new decisions when circumstances change or challenge a care plan or promise

CALM Conversations is a series of facilitated discussions exploring topics related to change and loss throughout the caregiving journey. Recognizing the presence and impact of losses while developing ways to include grieving in wellbeing practice is integral to connection, healing, and growth. The program is currently offered virtually.
Soothing Word of the Month
The green-gold sunlight that falls through the young leaves of trees in May (May light - or May Shine - German)
Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Center Wellness Initiative