A Wellness Note excerpt from Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW. To receive regular wellness notes, please subscribe to our monthly wellness e-newsletter here.
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.
Thank you for your continued support of the Wellness Initiative!