Raising Awareness – Alzheimer’s Disease

Join us for a special screening of the award-winning documentary, Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me. It chronicles music legend Glen Campbell and his farewell “Goodbye Tour.” Watch this amazing journey as Glen and his family attempt to navigate the wildly unpredictable disease with love and laughter and music as their medicine of choice.
August 23, 2017 at Granite City Cinema, 1243 Niedreinghaus Avenue in Granite City. Doors open at 11:00 – show starts at 12 NOON. This is a FREE event but reservations are required. RSVP to 618-531-9430. Complimentary popcorn and soft drink to each attendee.

Peel Wood Fired Pizza Dine for a Cause

Join us on Aug. 30!

It’s up to YOU!

Some people have a tendency to be selfless. They almost always feel the need to put others’ needs before their own—even when it compromises their health and well-being.  Are you one of them?  If you are, then you should consider how it is affecting your ability to be a good caregiver for your loved one.

You know that, before a plane takes off, you are instructed in case of an emergency to put on YOUR oxygen mask first. Then assist others. Makes sense, right? If you are not able to breathe, you can’t help anyone else. Caring for yourself allows you to maintain a healthy balance—mind, body, soul—allowing you to be a better caregiver for your loved one.

When you ignore your needs, you put your health at risk. Studies have shown, for example, if you are caring for an aging loved one and your children simultaneously, juggling work and parenting, you face increased risk for depression, chronic illness and the possible decline in quality of life.

It’s easy to feel trapped or that you don’t have the time or resources to manage your needs while trying to balance your loved one’s needs.  Here are a few tips:

Evaluate your barriers

Do you think you are selfish to put your needs first?

Do you have trouble asking for help or for what you need?

Identify any misconceptions that are increasing your stress

If I do this, I will get the love, respect, etc.

I deserve.

I promised Dad I would take care of my mom.

If I don’t do it, no one else will.

Once you have reviewed your barriers, misconceptions, and stresses, you are on your way to moving forward to a more healthy lifestyle for yourself.

Set some goals

¨ Give yourself permission to take care of your needs.

¨ Get help with caregiving tasks like bathing and preparing meals.

¨ Engage in healthy activities. Go for a walk or enjoy lunch with friends.

¨ Make an appointment for a
physical check-up.

¨ Take a break from caregiving.

¨ Attend a support group.

Remember, it is not selfish to focus on your own needs and desires when you are a family caregiver. It is a part of the job. YOU are responsible for your self-care.

St. John’s is here to enable you to take care of you!  Call and let us help. 618-344-5008.


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Cardinals Reminiscence League

Cardinals Reminiscence League Expanding to Serve More People with Memory Loss
St. John’s Community Care partners with Alzheimer’s Assoc. to host early memory loss program

Edwardsville – In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, St. John’s Community Care is proud to announce the start of the 2017 Cardinals Reminiscence program for people with memory loss: Cardinals Reminiscence League (CRL). CRL builds on the reminiscence therapy concept that memorabilia and other prompts can be used to stimulate conversations about shared memories of past experiences. Individuals with mild memory loss or in the early stages of dementia meet to share pleasant baseball memories in hopes of enhancing their mood and communication skills.

St. John’s Community Care will provide this free program, launched and supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, to those with Alzheimer’s and related dementia, as well as their care partners.

“We are extremely happy to be able to offer this valuable program in Edwardsville. Cardinal Reminiscence League is a bold, optimistic and innovative approach to aid people with memory loss. Programs like this are a vision for how we can change the way we think and care for people with memory loss,” said Nancy Berry, Executive Director for St. John’s Community Care.

“The Alzheimer’s Association has had success hosting the Cardinals Reminiscence League and is excited to partner with St. John’s Community Care to expand this group and reach more people,” said Stephanie Rohlfs-Young, Alzheimer’s Association St. Louis Chapter Vice President of Programs.

The CRL program was originally developed in 2011 as a partnership between the Alzheimer’s Association St. Louis Chapter, Saint Louis University, St. Louis Veterans Administration (VA), St. Louis Cardinals baseball organization and the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame Museum.

The first session of the new program hosted at St. John’s Community Care will be on April 20, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at St. John’s Community Care Adult Day Center located at 1015 B. Century Drive – University Pointe II in Edwardsville.

The program is the brainchild of John Morley, M.D., director of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University.  Dr. Morley was inspired by the Football Reminiscence Partnership of Scotland, where soccer is more than a pastime. Much like Cardinals baseball, it is a passion.

Art is the expression of the soul

During the last year, participants at St. John’s Community Care Adult Day Center have been receiving individual and group Art Therapy sessions with SIUE masters level practicum student, Ashley Ramm. Participants from both the Collinsville and the Edwardsville Adult Day locations meet once per week for different themed groups. A Ladies Art Therapy Group meets in Edwardsville to reminisce about past interests, make friends, and learn new art skills. The Ladies Art Therapy Group recently created their own scarves. The women learned how to dye fabric using shibori techniques, and experimented with surface design. After completing the scarves, the women showed off their master pieces at the Day Center.

An Eco-Art Therapy Group was led at the Collinsville location, where participants reconnected with the natural environment through engagement with nature. Eco-Art therapy techniques stimulate the mind and body through the five senses, to allow for deeper intellectual processing about the seasons of life. They used natural
objects such as fresh cut flowers, twigs, stones, bark, soil, and sand to create art. During the fall of 2016, participants established a new flower bed in the courtyard and planted flower bulbs to have spring tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. The flower bed is surrounded with stones the participants have painted.

To celebrate the five year anniversary of offering art therapy services at St. John’s Community Care, both locations are participating in a community arts project. Each location is creating a tree of life mixed media painting. Stay tuned for images of the finished art works in the next newsletter!

Working with older adults or adults with limited abilities can present quite a challenge for any anyone in the health field but particularly for art therapists.  Many participants have limited physical functioning and visual problems.  Often they are in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or have brain trauma injuries.

At St. John’s Community Care the art therapy program creates the art therapy intervention to the special needs of each participant.  Group and individual sessions are held weekly.   One of the participants, “C” was severely brain injured in an accident when he was only 9 years-old.  He needs a walker, has trouble speaking and is limited developmentally.  Because he was such a young age, his ability to reason and understand  was compromised.   This resulted in his focus on his hometown and back to the time before he was injured.

His constant repetition often left the staff frustrated and at a loss to help him with a new topic.  Sarah, the art therapist, at that time held individual sessions with him to allow him to express his frustration.  With art therapy they then created a whole town out of cardboard, paper and paint.  They included all of the landmarks he remembered and even added a park for sledding.  This resulted in a marked decrease in his repetition.   With his permission, the staff was able to look at his work of art and talk to him.  When he wanted to discuss his hometown, he and staff now had a visual forum to engage with him.

“M” is a participant whose husband was in Chicago and dying.  He was also suffering from Alzheimer’s and on her last visit did not recognize her.  She was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but had the capacity to fully understand what it meant for her prognosis.  She was very angry.  She often snapped at the other participants or was impatient with those who had some form of dementia.

Individual Art Therapy focused on helping her to express her anger and fears.  She started with painting huge swaths of color almost viciously on the easel paper.  As the weeks went by her art took on more form.  She started painting train tracks and discussing her life in the city.  “M” began to reminisce about the wonderful parts of her childhood and living with her parents.  Her anger appeared to dissolve along with the paint.

It was very important to “M” to be able to process her past and do a life review.  The paintings are now with her daughter so they can have her artwork as a window into “M’s”  history.   For those participants who are experience memory loss, being able to pull from their past is a way for them to engage with others and feel positive about themselves.

Art Therapy can be tailored to each specific participant to help them address the particular needs  of being in adult community care.

St. John’s Community Care Art Therapy Program is supported in part by a grant from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing St. Louis.  This fund is made up of employee-managed funds which are distributed by the local ECF board in accordance with the best interest of the community and membership. The Madison County Mental Board and donations fund the balance.

For more information about St. John’s Art Therapy Program, please contact Stacey at 344-5008.




Insight To Repetition

By Gail J. Shaw,
Home Services Care Coordinator – 

Members attending our Alzheimer’s Support Group discuss many different types of challenges they have in caring for their loved ones with memory loss. Two of the challenges most discussed have been their loved one asking the same question over and over and then not remembering or being able to retain information.

It can be hard for a family caregiver or others to look at a person with memory loss and think they have a disease. Individuals with memory loss will appear to look normal to everyone, in the beginning. You may not even suspect a person has a problem until you spend some time talking to them. After a while, you may start to notice your friend or loved one repeats a lot or asks the same question during the conversation.

As the brain becomes more compromised due to Alzheimer’s, plaque and tangles form, the brain shrinks and the cells slough off and do not replenish themselves. Over time it becomes harder for the brain to remember or retain new information. We will notice individuals repeating questions, words or even activities. It’s not that they are trying to be difficult. They simply do not remember they have already asked the question or completed the activity. These behaviors are due to the disease.

As a family caregiver, you need to understand why your loved one keeps asking the same question after you have given the same answer for the umpteenth time. As the memory becomes worse, it will be harder for them to communicate with you. You may want to explore why they are asking the same question repeatedly. They may be trying to communicate a problem, ask for help or dealing with an anxiety. Maybe they are simply frustrated with a situation.

The Alzheimer’s Association has a few ideas
as to how to respond to repetition.

Look for a reason behind the repetition.

Does the repetition occur around certain people or surroundings, or at a certain time of the day?
Focus on the emotion, not the behavior.
Rather than reacting to what the person is doing, think about how he or she is feeling.

Turn the action or behavior into an activity.

If the person is rubbing his or her hand across the table, provide a cloth and ask for help with dusting.

Stay calm, and be patient.

Reassure the person with a calm voice and gentle touch. Don’t argue or try to use logic.

Provide an answer.
Give the person the answer that he or she is looking for, even if you must repeat it several times.

Engage the person in the activity.
The individual may simply be bored and need something to do.

Use memory aids.
Offer reminders by using notes, clocks, calendars or photographs, if they find it helpful.

Accept the behavior, and work with it. 

If it isn’t harmful, don’t worry about it. Find ways to work with it.

Family caregivers and others can easily become frustrated with frequent repetition. Hopefully by understanding why repetition occurs it will become less frustrating. And that will make your relationship with your loved one better. Just remember, they are probably as frustrated with their memory loss as you are with it-probably more so.

If caregiving has become too stressful, maybe it is time to enlist help from others. St. John’s Community Care has caregivers who can come out to the home and provide care for your loved one while you get out of the home. For more information on our in-home services, please contact us at 618-344-0276.


Aging Brings Challenges And We Are Here To Help

By Patti Haddick, Director of Home Services – The holidays are a time for reconnecting with family and friends.  Daughters and sons come to Mom and Dad’s house for Christmas and families go to visit Aunt Rose and Uncle Bob.

Not only do these visits allow families to reconnect with their loved ones but they also give families a chance to realize the challenges their family members are having due to aging.  Maybe Aunt Rose’s dementia is preventing her from keeping up with the cleaning and is also causing her to wander.  Mom’s bad back keeps her from safely taking a bath or shower on her own.  Uncle Bob may no longer be safe to drive due to his failing eyesight.

After noticing these new needs, families often look at lots of options to help their loved ones.  Should Mom and Dad move to Assisted Living or move in with a son or daughter?  Should Uncle Bob place Aunt Rose in a Memory Care Facility?  St. John’s Home Services can often fill these needs either for short- term, while options are being explored and weighed, or for the long-term because some seniors have saved for this “rainy day” and would rather age in place, in their own home.

St. John’s Home Services can provide respite for Uncle Bob.  Caregivers will stay with Aunt Rose to keep her safe and happy so that Uncle Bob’s buddies can pick him up for donuts and coffee.  St. John’s Caregivers can help with the chores around the house because caring for a loved one with dementia often leaves a spouse too overwhelmed and tired to do the day-to-day housekeeping.  The Caregivers can also cook a good meal for Uncle Bob and Aunt Rose to enjoy later in the day.

Caregivers can help get the towel, washcloth, soap, and get Mom into the shower and wash her back and feet…the areas she can’t easily reach.  They will help her get out of the shower safely and put non-prescription lotion on Mom’s back and legs.  They will then clean the bathroom after the fact.  This is a blessing for anyone who has compromised mobility and energy levels.  And who doesn’t like to be pampered with sweet-smelling lotion after a warm shower!

St. John’s Caregivers are caring individuals who love helping others and receive ongoing training for this type of work.  Caregiver references are checked before they are hired and they receive a fingerprint background check through the Illinois Department of Public Health.

If you see a need after your Christmas visit home, give us a call at 618-344-5008.
We would be happy to help your loved
ones by sending Caregivers from our
Home Services Program. 




































Challenges of Communicating with People with Alzheimer’s

By Gail J. Shaw, Care Coordinator –

“Don’t underestimate me. I know more than I say, think more than I speak and notice more than you realize.” I saw this quote of wisdom on Pinterest and it immediately reminded me of my clients, who are challenged every day as they live life with Alzheimer’s. To me, it speaks volumes on how individuals living with a dementia or Alzheimer’s go about their day, day after day.

A family caregiver faces many challenges while caring for their loved one who has Alzheimer’s. One of those challenges deals with communication. The family becomes frustrated trying to figure out what Grandma is trying to get across to them. Grandma gets upset at trying to get her thoughts out or to be understood. Words just don’t come easily or even come at all. Frustration, stress, and hurt feelings are experienced daily for those who are slowly losing their ability to communicate.

In the beginning, for a person with Alzheimer’s, there may be little to no problems with communication. There could be the occasional misuse of calling something by the wrong word or forgetting the correct word use for an item. One may forget a person’s name or call them by a different name. You and others may not notice any problems with their communication.

As Alzheimer’s progresses through the region of the brain that affects memory and thinking and planning, you will notice the individual having more and more trouble expressing themselves. They will also have problems organizing their thoughts. This will be a time of great frustration for the individual with Alzheimer’s and those caring for them.

Towards the very end, the one with Alzheimer’s will not be able to verbally communicate due to the brain being so compromised. This will be a tough time but you will still be able to communicate with each other even if it seems to be one-sided.

Every day we all use a nonverbal system of communication. We wave a hand to get someone’s attention. We laugh at other’s jokes. We may frown and roll our eyes to imply we are not happy with something. Yes, we can communicate a lot with our body and facial expressions. So remember while  communicating smile, laugh, hold hands and look into their eyes to show love and acceptance to the one living with Alzheimer’s.

Here are some suggestions from the book The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss in Later Life, to improve verbal communication with your loved one during the mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s.

  • Make sure he does hear you.
  • Lower the tone (pitch) of your voice.
  • Eliminate distracting noises or activities.
  • Use short words and short, simple sentences.
  • Ask only one simple question at a time.
  • Ask the person to do one task at a time, not several.
  • Speak slowly, and wait for the person to respond.

St. John’s Community Care provides training to our employees on the topic of understanding memory loss which includes communication. Our support groups also help family caregivers to have a better understanding of how to communicate with their loved one living with Alzheimer’s.

If you need help in understanding or caring for your loved one, call us and we will meet with you to see what program or services we offer that may be beneficial for the two of you. Remember that the most important thing to communicate is your love.




































St. John’s Awarded A Grant From The Boeing St. Louis Employees Community Fund

St. John’s Community Care was awarded a $5,000 grant for Art Therapy in their Adult Day Programs in Edwardsville and Collinsville from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing St. Louis.  This fund is made up of employee managed funds which are distributed by the local ECF board in accordance with the best interest of the community and membership.

With this generous contribution, St. John’s Community Care will be able to fund a practicum student through SIUE’s Art Therapy Counseling Program for another year. For participants who are living with memory loss, being able to pull from their past is a way for them to engage with others and feel positive about themselves.  Unlike other therapies, art therapy offers a wide variety of modalities and interventions and can be tailored to each specific participant to address their particular needs within the Adult Day Program setting.

St. John’s Adult Day Program offers opportunities for aging and disabled people needing care to socialize in a safe, supportive setting. “St. John’s Adult Day Program is a one of a kind, very unique, classy place. My Mom has been attending for several years and it’s the best anti-depressant for her. I have seen a number of adult day centers and none compare. I’ve noticed such a sense of dignity and respect for every client.” said Cheryl Mines.

The Adult Day Program offered at St. John’s in both Collinsville and Edwardsville is open Mon. – Fri from 6:30 am – 6:00 pm. Many participants are eligible for services paid through a government program. For more information, please call 618-344-5008 or visit www.stjohnscc.org. St. John’s Community Care is an outreach ministry of St. John Evangelical United Church of Christ (Collinsville) and a proud member of the United Way.