The Brown Center

Yesterday we had the pleasure of filming at the The Dorothy and Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Program in West Bloomfield and Southfield.
The goal of both centers is to assist older adults with dementia & dementia related disorders to remain active, alert and engaged.

As the Brown Center Director Debra Yamstein explained, the support of the day programs impacts not only the program’s participants, but also the caregivers by giving them respite to relax while their loved one is there participating in multiple activities. For the program participants, the day is filled with events that help stimulate them in a wide range of ways. This makes the Brown Center one of the nations most progressive facilities on the front lines helping with dementia related illnesses.

We were able to film a multitude of these activities. The morning started out with an in-depth interview with Michael Kreiger, an extremely talented musician & singer. Michael had performed years ago for a group of seniors and was moved by the impact his singing had on them. “This has become my calling. I get so much joy out of playing these old songs and taking the daily participants down the road of some of their favorites,” he said. Michael explained how even participants with some of the most advanced forms of dementia that leave them sitting quietly can be spurred into the excitement of participation. This was very apparent when Pauline Williams became extremely excited and found herself singing along to the song “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King. See the short video clip.

Michael of course loves playing these old songs, and when asked about what the songs he could see being performed for the baby boomer generation, he laughed and said, “I guess it may be more like Peter, Paul and Mary or The Beatles.” As filmmakers, it was a moving experience for us to witness the power of music.

We also met Denny, a participant who comes to the Brown Center daily to play his banjo and offer his help. Denny is living with dementia and is a participant, but he also engages in entertaining the others. This clearly adds relevance to his life at the state he is in now.

While at the Brown Center’s Southfield location, we also were able to see the value in balloon volleyball. A simple game quickly spurs excitement and movement of those who you would not feel could accurately tap a balloon back and forth over a net.

We then traveled over to the The Brown Program's site in West Bloomfield. There, we were able to spend time with Marci Bykat, an instructor who helped a group of participants create artwork that I am sure they were all proud of. The course is valuable because it helps the participants focus on using both their minds and their hands at the same time.

After the art activity, Jennifer Kellman, the Site Supervisor and Recreation Coordinator, set up a memory game in the garden. This game allows the program participants to take part in a group activity while also jogging their memory.

Our time at the Brown Centers showed us that with patience and creative approaches, a person struggling with dementia could still be very active and engaged; they just need well thought direction. This work is so important to both caregivers, as well as their loved ones. We are thrilled we can showcase this in our film “On the Front Lines of Alzheimer’s & Dementia.” We are certain this will help many families, and possibly create similar engaging activities at home for someone who may be struggling with a form of dementia. To learn more about or how you can support this very important film, please go to: http://ontodaysfrontlines.com/alzheimers/

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