October 7, 2016

Wellness Initiative

  • Image above: Caregivers practicing tai chi at the Caregiver Wellness Day retreat. 

    Live Well

    Wellness is nurturing balance in our lives: mind, body, and spirit. It is practicing the ability to bring calm awareness to all that we do. Our goal is to help you Live Well in a life that includes memory loss and care partnering. At the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center, wellness is found in our program offerings and is an integral part of our vision as a center.

    “When we give ourselves compassion, we are opening our hearts in a way that can transform our lives.”
    – Kristin Neff

    We hear the words “take care of yourself” all the time. We all know it is essential for health and personal well-being, so, what does this really mean? Our wellness programs are designed with this very question in mind. What do you need to nurture balance in your life? As we work towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, we aim to champion and celebrate the amazing courage of our participants who do their best to live well with dementia every day. They have inspired us and, in turn, we continue to create wellness programs where individuals can receive the support and information they need to support their desire to live well.



    Image above: A caregiver participating in one of the activities at the Caregiver Wellness Day retreat.

    Please note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our in-person wellness programs are meeting virtually. Registration is required for the virtual login information.

    About our Programs

    Our Wellness Initiative offers a variety of programs to support the well-being of caregivers and people living with early-stage memory loss. Click the options below to learn more about each of our programs and to register.

    If you have any additional questions regarding programs, or which program might be the best fit for you, please contact us at 734-936-8803.

    Programs fill to capacity quickly, so please reserve your seat by completing the accompanying registration form.

    Catching Your Breath

    Catching Your Breath is a monthly well-being and mindfulness program for family caregivers of adults living with a dementia. We currently do not offer programs to professional caregivers.

    Catching Your Breath is currently offered virtually. You may choose to attend one or all sessions. The program varies each month and newcomers are welcome at any time.

    This program is part of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center Wellness Initiative and is led by Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW.

    Registration is available here. After registering, you will be sent the connection information for the virtual session.

    CALM Connections

    CALM Connections is the only continuous wellness-based training program for caregivers in Michigan and includes in-person and virtual programs to enhance caregiver well-being, confidence, ongoing self-management, healing, and growth. Learn more about CALM Connections here.

    CALM Conversations

    CALM Conversations is a series of facilitated discussions exploring topics related to change and loss throughout the caregiving journey. The program is designed for family caregivers of adults living with dementia. Recognizing the presence and impact of losses while developing ways to include grieving in well-being practice is integral to connection, healing, and growth.

    This program is facilitated by Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW and Theresa Gierzynski, LMSW.

    The program is currently offered virtually. Sessions meet quarterly. You may choose to attend one or all sessions.

    Registration is available for our sessions here.

    Have a Seat - Meditation Practice
    Have a Seat is a weekly guided meditation program. Registration is not required, simply use the Zoom information to join each week. All you need is a computer to join the program online or a phone to listen.

    This program is part of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center Wellness Initiative and is led by Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW.

    Would you like to receive weekly email reminders to join the program? Subscribe here to receive.

    If you would like to share information about this program, a flyer is available for download here.

    If you'd like to join the call by phone, please dial 1-646-558-8656 at noon. To join by Zoom, click here or use the information below.
    Meeting ID: 975 5736 2948 | Passcode: 128653
    Living Grief

    Living Grief is a monthly exploration of grief for family caregivers of adults living with a dementia. We currently do not offer programs to professional caregivers.

    Living Grief is currently offered virtually. The program takes place monthly for six months and it is recommended that participants attend all or most sessions.

    It is strongly encouraged that Living Grief attendees will have participated in other Wellness Initiative programs.

    A variety of topics will be discussed, including ambiguous loss, anticipatory grief, and relationship changes.

    This program is part of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center Wellness Initiative and is led by Theresa Gierzynski, LMSW.

    Registration is currently closed. Please check back here for more information on future sessions.

    Mindfulness-Based Dementia Care

    Mindfulness-based Dementia Care is a nine-week program designed for family caregivers of adults living with dementia. We currently do not offer programs to professional caregivers. The program shares how the practice of mindfulness can provide support during the challenges and stresses of dementia care.

    Mindfulness-based Dementia Care is currently offered virtually. Classes meet weekly and attendance each week is required for course participation. Some outside practice and reviewing course material between classes is also expected.

    Registration is now open for our winter and spring 2023 sessions. Please register on the Presence Care Project website here.

    If you experience any trouble registering, please email Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW at lerice@med.umich.edu.

    Mitten Minds Education Series

    The Mitten Minds Education Series offers a series of educational presentations for individuals who are newly diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or are in the early stages of a dementia. The goal of the series is to provide important information to individuals who have been recently diagnosed, provide a space for questions to be answered, and to connect to other resources and support services available. A loved one may accompany you to the program.

    The program is part of the Wellness Initiative at the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Each session is presented by an expert in the field of dementia care and research.

    The Mitten Minds Education Series is currently offered virtually. Sessions meet once per week. You can express interest in our Fall 2023 series here.

    Mitten Minds Support Group

    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.

    The Mitten Minds Support Group is currently offered virtually. The program is a part of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center Wellness Initiative. Newcomers are welcome at any time.

    If this is your first time attending, please contact rgadwa@med.umich.edu before attending. If you have attended before, registration is available here.

    Wellness Day

    Wellness Day is a half-day creative and social retreat for caregivers of adults living with memory loss at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. These retreats typically take place twice per year - once in the spring and once in the fall.

    There are currently no Wellness Days planned. Please check back for details.

  • There are a variety of ways you can stay in touch with our Wellness Initiative. We offer monthly e-newsletters that share about upcoming Wellness programs, caregiver-specific research studies, and more. For this, and more see the links below.

    Wellness Initiative on Social Media

    Find the Wellness Initiative on Instagram. Here, we share caregiver resources, inspiration for those who may be on their dementia journey, and more. If you’d like to follow Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW, Director of the Wellness Initiative, you can also do so on Twitter here.


    Wellness Initiative Monthly E-Newsletter & Weekly Reminders

    You can stay in the loop of Wellness Initiative activities by subscribing to our e-newsletters here. Publications include a monthly Wellness e-newsletter and a weekly reminder for our Have a Seat meditation program.

    Subscribe at alzheimers.med.umich.edu/subscribe/

    Previous issues of our monthly Wellness e-newsletter are below for your reading.

    2023 Editions
    2022 Editions
    2021 Editions
    2020 Editions


    Wellness Resources for Self Care

    "Listen To This First" Podcast

    Our Wellness Initiative Lead, Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW put together a podcast, specifically for those new to mindfulness practices. Listen on Simplecast here or on iTunes here.

    Guided Meditations

    Go to the guided meditations.

    Headspace Meditations for Michigan Residents

    Access these meditations here.

    Local Mindfulness Meditations

    There are several local groups that offer weekly group meditation practices online. The Ann Arbor Center for Mindfulness offers a variety of dates and times here and the Beaumont Center for Mindfulness offers other dates and times here.

    National Mindfulness Resources

    Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Kabat-Zinn leads a video on mindfulness, healing, and wisdom in the time of COVID-19 here.

    Dr. Rick Hanson is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author. He has collected several thoughts and videos on being resilient during the Coronavirus. Access these resources here.

    Sharon Salzberg is a national leader in the mindfulness space and a New York Times best-selling author. Sharon provides several COVID-19 resources, including her own "Survival Guide" and a Loving Kindness Practice here.

    Lastly, Drs. Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, co-founders of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion in San Diego, provide an article on how self-compassion can help us and others during this trying time. Find the full article here.