You might recall how Celebrity Chefs and Chef ’s Tables have transformed the dining experience of residents at Weinberg Community in Deerfield (LIFE, Summer 2019). But there’s even more innovative programming to explore at Weinberg. Take a peek: The Memory Café has been “open for business” for months, welcoming those individuals who have early Alzheimer’s, a related dementia or mild cognitive impairment, as well as their care partners. This activity does not have the usual “drop off and go” dynamic, because care partners are not just welcome to stay—they are required to stay. Consequently, by design, it’s quite a beneficial program for both the cognitively impaired and their care partners on two counts. It’s a way they can enjoy activities together, plus a way to share a break from everyday routines.
The Memory Café lets participants connect with others in a supportive, affirming and stimulating environment. They come once a month for a variety of informative and cultural programs, facilitated by professionals who are trained in working with adults with cognitive issues. And the topics are interesting and intriguing including: “What’s New in Dementia,” “Soaring With the Birds” (about birding) and the extremely popular “Sex, Love and Growing Old.”
Date Night with Dementia happens one night each quarter, when participants in Weinberg’s Adult Day Services program, residents of Friend Center, family members and care partners all step out for a theme-based fun night. Fall’s Date Night theme was “Casino Night.” Attendees played poker and blackjack and took in an Elvis impersonator, all while pretending to be denizens of a spirited, raucous casino. Winter Date Night planning is not yet complete, but rumors are that it will be an “Entertainment Night.” Last year, Weinberg staff created a Winter Wonderland for Winter Date Night, during which attendees assembled cookie ingredients (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, etc.) in mason jars and then decorated them—making the perfect hand-made gifts. This program was made possible by a generous grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
The Creative Arts Therapy Program at Weinberg Community includes the full spectrum of creative arts disciplines including arts, dance and music all taught by registered or certified therapists. Jennifer Weininger, Executive Director of Weinberg, believes that one of Weinberg Community’s biggest strengths is the amount of programming offered to fill the variety of resident’s needs. If someone doesn’t want to participate in one art, they can do another. Weininger adds, “High-functioning residents, as well as people with cognitive impairment can all benefit from different therapies.” Also, a background in art is not necessary. “Those who have been artists for many years continue with it and people who have never done any art really get a new appreciation for it when they move into our community and become avid enthusiasts,” she says.
“Many other communities have programs, but the superior talent of our staff and the ability for them to cater programs to everyone’s needs in a fun and innovative manner is what makes us unique.” What also sets Weinberg apart is that both the Manager of Friend Center and the Manager of the Adult Day Service Program have creative arts backgrounds.
Weininger believes “It is important to have people with creative outlooks. It helps them to work well with clients with memory impairment. Plus, they have the inherent ability to develop strong and lasting relationships with families.”
The Weinberg Creative Arts Therapy Program includes:
- Dance/Movement Therapy. During this activity, participants sit in a circle, face-to-face or stand (if able) and listen to music, use props or move along with each other, fostering a sense of community and belonging. While helping their body-mind connection and hand-eye coordination, participants take part in it from a place of ability rather than disability, with a focus on what they can do.
- Music Therapy is defined as the clinical and evidence-based use of music to help people accomplish goals. It helps improve well-being and quality of life, memory and other cognitive issues.
- Visual Arts Therapy uses 2D and 3D artmaking to facilitate emotional processing, communication and community-building. It lets people be self-expressive, which provides people with a sense of purpose. We are all creative, but it might need to be drawn out by someone professionally trained to foster it. It’s different from arts and crafts because it is more than keeping someone busy. It is person-centered, based on one’s therapeutic need, and responding to that need through the arts.
Weinberg Eyes Technology in innovative ways to help our residents thrive. Many initiatives are ongoing, such as:
- The Weinberg App was developed just for use by Weinberg Community and was recently approved by Apple. Its first phase includes a daily calendar that allows residents and families to check activities on an hourly basis. Daily menus and Community News will also be posted.
- Smart Speakers (like Alexa) benefit our residents. The smart speaker is used in many apartments, and plans are to connect it to the Weinberg menus and calendar and, with a simple verbal request, this information can be read to them. This would be particularly helpful to those who are visually impaired.
- Activities Make the Day at Weinberg. Besides the multitude of activities squeezed into the days and evenings at Weinberg, there are also other happenings that make Weinberg so special, including: The Annual Dog Show, a Dog Parade at Friend Center, a State Fair-themed event, Labor Day BBQ, Annual Mahjong and Canasta Social Tournament, Temple Moriah and Rochelle Zell High School Partnership, Israeli Scouts musical visit, Parkinson’s Art Sale and a luncheon for Beth Hillel congregants.
Weinberg Community offers Assisted Living at Gidwitz Place, Memory Care at Friend Center and Adult Day Services. We also offer Respite Care to give caregivers some time for themselves in order to restore themselves. Contact Weinberg Community at 847.374.0500 to inquire. Weinberg Community is located 1551 Lake Cook Road in Deerfield.