Cheryl Mooney has been an art teacher for thirty years. Time and time again, she has seen the positive, therapeutic impact art can have on people’s lives, no matter their age or stage. “Therapy has always been a part of art for me,” she said, but now that her husband Tim is a resident in the Starr Memory Care Residence, its importance has been heightened.

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that encourages self-expression through media such as painting, modeling, drawing, collage, and coloring. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, art can enrich the lives of those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. When practiced in a supportive environment, art allows people to express themselves without fear of being judged. “There is no right or wrong way to make art,” Cheryl said. “The important thing is just making it a part of residents’ routines.”

Art allows residents to express their thoughts and feelings. It can trigger dormant memories and emotions and brings up the most important pieces of someone’s life, whether it’s their favorite childhood pet or a family trip. “Art becomes a form of communication,” Cheryl said. “From someone’s art, you can see what they’re thinking about and what is important to them, creating an opportunity for caregivers to start a meaningful conversation.”

When therapists and caregivers encourage those with dementia to explore their feelings by engaging in the creative process, it enhances the quality of life for not only the resident but also the caregiver. It can aid in managing behavior, processing feelings, and reducing stress for all parties involved. Art therapy provides a way for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s to preserve their sense of self and validates them, regardless of how far their disease has progressed. It shows the person that their story matters to others (www.alzheimers.net).

“Art helps remind them that they can still add beauty to the world for others to enjoy,” Cheryl said. “It does not matter what it looks like because the important part is that they were able to make something themselves.”

Brandi Burgess, Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care, echoed Cheryl’s statement and encourages the use of art therapy. “The value of art with dementia is immeasurable,” Brandi said. “Art allows those who are often without a voice to speak and share about their experiences with the world around them,” said Brandi.

Providing opportunities for those with dementia to engage in art is a simple, but incredibly important, way to help. Taking the time to create something with a resident can make all the difference in their lives and shows that it truly is better to give than to receive.

In 2014, our Board of Trustees and Leadership Council committed the time and financial resources to ensure that every single Plymouth Harbor staff member is given premier education on dementia care.

Our goal is to have staff who are knowledgeable about dementia, aware of the unique manifestations of dementia, who understand the impact of dementia on family and environmental dynamics, and who are adept at interacting with those with dementia. Using Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) philosophy, we ensure that this happens.

Teepa Snow is a leading educator on dementia. As an occupational therapist with more than 30 years of clinical experience in the field, Teepa has become an advocate for those with dementia. She has made it her mission to help people better understand what it is like to live with the challenges that accompany the condition and to change the way people think about it. In 2005, she founded her own company, the Positive Approach™ to Care, to teach people how to effectively and compassionately work with those living with neurocognitive degeneration. The Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) uses the GEMS® States model for brain change, Teepa’s own creation that focuses on retained abilities instead of those that are lost. Through the PAC and using the GEMS® States model, she now educates family and professional care providers across the world, but mainly in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K

Four years ago, Brandi Burgess, Interim Administrator of Assisted Living and Memory Care, became a nationally certified trainer in PAC and developed an education plan for all levels of our staff with responsibilities in any of our licensed facilities.

“I really love when staff members from all departments share an interaction they had with a resident and say ‘I felt myself getting defensive and upset, and then I realized I was talking to a diamond,’ or an emerald, or a ruby,” Brandi said. “When they can take a step back, use what they learned in their PAC training, and approach the situation with a different mindset, they can better understand and care for our residents.”

Health Services staff receive annual training, which consists of education on normal aging, dementia, current research, and the progression of dementia through the GEMS® model. They also learn positive physical approaches and skills to use during care. Many different techniques are used to teach our staff these skills: video clips of Teepa demonstrating how to sort out what GEM someone is for visual learners; lectures and Q&A sessions for verbal learners; role playing and hands-on care practice for existential learners.

Our Care Partners in the Starr Memory Care Residence receive a three-week training, the most intensive of all our employees. Their PAC training is heavily interactive and hands-on, allowing them to practice the skills they will need and also put themselves in the shoes of someone with dementia. Even those who work outside of Health Services receive an introduction to PAC in their new employee orientations.

“If we can teach our staff how to purposefully change the environment and approach to our residents, then we can ensure they have the proper setting to shine at their best,” Brandi said.

We are pleased to welcome charter members of the Anchor Society, a group of donors who have given to the Foundation consistently, year after year, in at least 5 of the last 6 years. Consistent annual giving allows us to continue to fund ongoing programs, such as the chapel, wood shop, library, the new resident educational offerings, employee scholarships, employee hardship cases, employee training, wellness initiatives, and other new offerings.

The Foundation Board was happy to honor and celebrate these donors on National Philanthropy Day (November 15th) at our Cocktails by Candlelight event in the Bistro. All members received a commemorative pin as a symbol of our gratitude. Over sixty guests attended the event.

Charter Members of the Anchor Society:

Maizie Abuza
Carolyn Albrecht
Mary Allyn
Al and Barbara Balaban
Patricia and Graham Barkhuff
David and Ruth Beliles
Kay Bosse
Bill Brackett
Molly Brzica
Marty Buenneke
Celia Catlett and Gene Heide
Aubie and Sandy Coran
Bruce Crawford and Joan Sheil
John and Alida de Jongh
Joe Devore
Judy Diedrich
Janet Fassler
Greg Fosselman
Arnold and Marcia Freedman
Nancy Gross
Jerry and Joelle Hamovit
Harry and Nancy Hobson
Addie Hurst
Joe Iaria
Bill and Betsy Johnston
Harriet Josenhanss
Jerry and Nancy Kaplan
Marian Kessler
Chris and Margo Light
Sallie and Tom Luebbe
Gerda and Vytas Maceikonis
Jeanne Manser
Gerry Mattson
Ginny McIntire
Fred and Molly Moffat
Elizabeth Murphy
Becky and Paul Pazkowski
Isabel Pedersen
BJ Peters
Jean and Brian Rushton
Bobi Sanderson
Shirlee Schachtel
Norma Schatz
Jeanne Seiberling
Charleen Sessions
Maryanne and Joe Shorin
Cade and Whit Sibley
Carol Siegler
Jean Simon
Jane Smiley
Phil and Barry Starr
Betty Templeton
Tom Towler and Nancy Lyon
Wendy and Jim Underwood
Dr. Jim Wiggin
Jill Wilson
Tena and Tom Wilson
Edward Yasuna

Plymouth Harbor’s Seaside Assisted Living Residence represents a middle ground for those residents experiencing some daily physical limitations with which they require assistance. The Starr Memory Care Residence is designed to be a safe and secure environment for residents who require constant assistance due to dementia.

Each area is licensed as Assisted Living under the auspices of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). Both areas were designed to maximize residential amenities and incorporate beautiful views of our one-of-a-kind setting. The design subtly helps residents with daily needs, whether it is the barrier-free accessibility of the showers or the strategically placed nightlights that act as gentle nighttime reminders.

The Seaside Residence emphasizes large spaces for activity, dining, socializing, exercising, and other programs. Both floors have balconies located on the southwest corner of the Northwest Garden building. The outdoor space is complemented in Seaside with a beautiful courtyard accessible from the bridge.

The Starr Memory Care Residence’s two neighborhoods, Ringling and Lido, emphasize smaller, more intimate spaces. The coziness of the living room, hearth, and fireplace is complemented by a bright and airy kitchen and dining area. Bright lighting and activities are meant to correspond with one’s circadian rhythm and give a sense of belonging and home. Interiors provide a combination of things that are visually appealing, cognitively engaging, and tactiley interesting. Both neighborhoods have easy access to courtyards that we continue to enhance to improve engagement and comfort.

Finally, the program is fostered by staff called Care Partners who have been provided enhanced training on the Postive Approach™ to Care, a program created by Teepa Snow (go to YouTube.com and search Teepa Snow, Positive Approach™ to Care for some wonderful videos of her approach).

In less than a year in operation we are nearing capacity and continuing to improve the environment and programming. Our Assisted Living Facility–both the Seaside and the Starr Memory Care Residences–has significantly improved Plymouth Harbor’s continuum of services available to residents. If you have questions or comments, please contact Brandi Burgess (Ext. 496) or Bert Adams (Ext. 429) for more information.

Located in the East Garden Garage, the Resident Fund Shop is Plymouth Harbor’s own internal thrift store, sustained by resident and staff donations, where you can find almost anything at “ridiculously low prices,” said Barbara Kelly, chair of the Resident Fund Shop Committee. Shoppers can find anything from glassware to appliances to designer clothing by brands such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.

“It’s like any good thrift store; you have to come in often to see what there is, and sometimes you get lucky,” Barbara said.

New donations are dropped off almost every day at the front door of the Shop. Most of what is donated is kept to be sold, and any discarded items are donated to local stores such as Goodwill, Resurrection House, and the Salvation Army. They also gift items to Plymouth Harbor departments if something arrives that would be especially useful.

The past year has been extremely profitable, mainly due to the turning over of so many apartments after the Northwest Garden Building opened. Furniture makes up about 25% of the income and is sold through an auction process.

The proceeds are used to support a variety of projects around Plymouth Harbor. Most notably, the Fund Shop has donated $30,000 to the construction of Pilgrim Hall, helped reconstruct the kayak shed, funded the Library, donated to the scholarship fund, and helped a staff member’s family who lost their home in a fire.

“One of our values is supporting the staff and helping in any way that we can,” said Connie Sanders, the previous head of the committee.

Residents often come to browse and mingle, but the Fund Shop’s customers are predominately staff. “We have lots of regulars,” Barbara said. Over time, the Resident Fund Shop Committee has learned who likes what and will often call a staff member if something they might like shows up.

The committee, which is part of the Residents Association, consists of 14 members, some of whom have worked at the Fund Shop for 15 years. Most members work three-hour shifts, and there are also some volunteers from outside the committee who come in to help. After being in business for over 50 years, it has become a well-oiled machine. “It’s just a matter of keeping the Shop in order and moving things along, but we also do a lot of laughing,” Barbara said. “Having fun is at the top of our list.”

The Fund Shop is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Fridays from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Donations are always welcome!

An avid and adventurous reader, Susan Eckert will be bringing her great love for books with her as this year’s new coordinator of the Plymouth Harbor Book Club. When Charleen Sessions, the previous coordinator, retired from the position, Susan volunteered herself for the job in hopes of inspiring others to find the same joys in reading, learning, and conversing as she has.

Plymouth Harbor’s Book Club is “resident inspired and resident led,” Susan said. For about one hour on the first Friday of each month from October to May, a resident gives a presentation on a book of their choosing and leads a discussion. Occasionally, the presenters also bring guests or props; past presentations have featured exercise equipment, rowing coaches, and even livestock. “The books we use span a wide variety of topics, and our presenters bring great knowledge and wisdom to the discussions,” Susan said. “I am indebted to them for all of the time and energy it takes to prepare.”

Susan made a conscious decision to recruit new presenters who will bring fresh perspectives and voices to the discussions. Some presenters are new residents, others are familiar faces, but all have an inspiring or intriguing book they want to share.

Getting your hands on the books is easy. You can go to the Plymouth Harbor Library, a Sarasota County Library, or even ask Maryanne Shorin in Resident Programming to order you an individual copy and put it on your tab. The Library of Congress also offers the National Library Service (NLS) for the visually impaired through which they will send you a “talking book” at no cost along with a user-friendly listening device. Maryanne Shorin (Ext. 252) can help you access this service if you are interested.

This year, Susan has compiled the list of books to be discussed in advance. She hopes this will encourage more people to read the books ahead of time, although you do not have to read the book in order to attend. “You can come having read the book, or you can come without having read it and walk away inspired to, or you can just look at the list,” Susan said. “There is value in all levels of involvement.”

Plymouth Harbor Book Club Programming:

October 5 – The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch, presented by Sue Elliott

November 2 – She’s Not There – A Life In Two Genders by Jennifer Boylan, presented by Marcella Schuyler

December 7 – A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, presented by Margo Light

January 4 – The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed, presented by Sallie VanArsdale

February 1 – Margery Stoneman Douglas: Voice of the River by Margery Stoneman Douglas, presented by Tom Bulthuis

March 1 – The Wind In My Hair: My Fight For Freedom In Modern Iran by Masih Alinejad, presented by Catha Abrahams

April 5 – Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf, presented by Marita Marsh

May 3 – Circe by Madeline Miller, presented by Sue Johnson