BBT Program Needs Referrals

Photo demonstrates the program needs referrals to maintain a care ratio as designed.

Wonder why the BBT program needs referrals? While we are pleased to see the increase in participants in the Breaking Barriers Today program, you should know that when this new program was started in 2015 it was designed to be a blended program to serve individuals with varying levels of capability and function. We are challenged with the reality that our numbers of participants with higher ability levels is not keeping pace with our goals.

This is something that we hope our families may be able to help with by passing the word within your circles about the great opportunities that this program offers, particularly for our higher functioning participants.

Here is a list of benefits:
1. Straight up value based on cost and programming.

2. Higher functioning participants get a boost in self-esteem by
taking the opportunity to be a teacher and role model for others.

3. The Gier Community Center and all of its programming capacity
provides rich opportunities for community immersion for BBT program
attendees. One of the key opportunities that this program offers is the
chance to interact and play with other kids attending the community center.

4. For those who have aged-out of regular school, the BBT offers quality time
through active programming such as arts and crafts, games, and physical activity.

5. The relationship with the City of Lansing through the Gier Community Center also affords us the ability to have BBT participants attend special outings at no additional costs, plus free transportation.

6. The BBT program has also attracted volunteers from the Occupational Therapy
Program at Baker College, Recreational Therapist from Grand Valley State, as well as staff caregivers from MSU – students enrolled in relevant areas of study like Nursing, Kinesiology, Social Work, and Psychology.

If we are able to make headway with increasing the number of participants in a way that supports our blended program goals, we will be able to continue to offer programming pricing based on our original plan. Our goal is to see good progress by adding at least four new participants by the end of the summer. If not, we will be forced to redesign the program and pricing.

The Breaking Barriers Today program was designed to support families with after-school and all day needs for care of loved ones with physical and/or cognitive impairments with diagnosis such as autism spectrum disorders, downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.

You can help with our  need for program referrals by sharing leads of families you know who might have care needs that the Breaking Barriers Today program can meet. Please send that information directly to BBT Program Supervisor, Kathryn Green at 517 – 372-6671 ext 106.

Benefits of Social Wellness to Seniors

Social Wellness demonstrated with senior interacting with grand children

July is Social Wellness Awareness Month. Social wellness is defined as nurturing yourself by building healthy, supportive relationships with others. Making genuine connections with those around you is critical to physical and psychological health.

Research shows that the physical risks of being socially isolated are comparable to the risks associated with heart disease, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity. However, for people with healthy relationships, their heart and blood pressure respond better to stress. Having a healthy social network can also enhance the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious diseases and speed healing. Maintaining relationships—giving and receiving emotional support—ensures that you have a network of friends, family, and others to turn to in times of need. Why is social wellness important for those with dementia-related diseases and their caregivers?

Benefits of Social Wellness for Memory Care

Perhaps a friend or loved one has displayed intermittent symptoms of mild cognitive decline such as forgetfulness, difficulty driving, word searching, or trouble concentrating and problem solving. Having a group of close friends or family members may help them maintain their independence and adjust to their changing needs. If you’re a caregiver, being able to discuss your concerns with others can provide you with a broader perspective and, perhaps, helpful resources.

In early-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, signs of mental impairment become more visible. It’s not unusual for the person affected by the disease to become moody, to express negative emotions (e.g., anger, frustration, anxiety, depression), or to withdraw socially. A study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that seniors who were housebound or socially isolated were not only more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease but experienced more rapid cognitive decline than seniors who got out and interacted more with others.

According to lead author Bryan D. James, “People who don’t leave their home as much aren’t engaging with their environment and meeting new people. They may not be using their minds as much.” The study does not conclude that social isolation causes Alzheimer’s or dementia; however, it does indicate a potential connection between social isolation and the development of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. Social wellness involves being present as the friend, colleague, or loved one learns to navigate the impact of the physical, emotional, and cognitive changes as they occur. It also involves encouraging a loved one’s continued interaction with others.

Written by: Ava Stinnett

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