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June 20, 2013 - Image 48

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-06-20

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4 k

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Enriching Lives


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I 3

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Brown Center adults benefit
from yoga and art classes.


//I WVII ■

Allison Batdorff and
I Helayne Kaplan







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48 June 20 • 2013






uring a recent art class,
Olga Dworkin marveled at
the intricate work of glass-
blowing expert Dale Chihuly. Then she
tried her hand at it — in plastic.
"You can draw a few lines and sud-
denly you have an amazing design
using a variety of patterns and colors:'
Dworkin explained.
For those enrolled in the Dorothy &
Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult
Day Care Program, enrichment activi-
ties such as art, yoga and other pur-
suits can "re-awaken" abilities blurred
by dementia and Alzheimer's disease,
according to those who work there.
There have always been such enrich-
ing opportunities through Jewish Senior
Life. Now, thanks to a recent gift by Bill
and Audrey Farber of West Bloomfield,
participants will have even more oppor-
"We are so grateful to our generous
donors for the opportunities they make
possible for our constituents," says Carol
Rosenberg, director, Jewish Senior Life
(JSL) Foundation.
The Brown Adult Day Care Program
is a collaboration between JSL and JVS,
offering music, art therapy, exercise and
yoga sessions at two sites. The Farber
gift doubles the frequency of the ses-
sions, which now will be offered weekly.
These programs engage participants
on multiple levels, says Peter Ostrow,
Brown Center director.
As people start to lose the ability to
communicate, being creative allows
them to express their emotions:' he says.
Creating something to admire or sell
also increases self-esteem, he notes.
Physical classes like yoga and tai chi
hone flexibility, balance, strength, car-
diovascular health and can even prevent
life-altering falls.
"With dementia, we're not always
as aware of our physical risk or limi-
tations:' Ostrow says. "Being active
can help forestall the physical decline
dementia and aging can engender:'
Yoga therapist Marla Horwitz of
Birmingham recently introduced medi-
tation to her Gentle Chair Yoga class at
the Brown Center, where students took
off their shoes, made little 0's of their
fingers and practiced deep breathing
and syllabic repetition. In the silence
after the sounds ceased, one could hear
the "ahhhh' of relaxation — a key com-
ponent to the class, Horwitz says.

Yoga Therapist Marla Horwitz works
with Pat Skaja on stretching his
muscles. Skaja injured his back in
a fall and is using yoga to learn to
balance and walk again.

"Yoga helps hand-eye coordination,
relaxation and gets everyone moving,"
Horwitz says.
Caregivers also participate as memory
loss can create anxiety, frustration and
confusion, says Lynn Medow, owner of
Yoga By Design in Bloomfield Hills, who
facilitates the classes. Yoga isn't a cure,
but it helps people cope, she says.
Just like yoga, art also can have a
transformative effect on those with
dementia, says Lorraine Feber of
Farmington Hills, a board-certified
registered art therapist who teaches art
classes in the Brown program.
The former science teacher creates an
environment where participants' artistic
sides emerge. Feber breaks each session
into three parts: an introduction to a
famous artist, an interactive discussion
of the artwork and a hands-on exercise
where students try projects of their own.
Art is a great way to "re-awaken"
the creative side of the brain that is
often dormant, but rarely impacted by
dementia, she says. Students also have
fun, build self-esteem, and develop a
sense of accomplishment and mastery.
"Art is a language that surpasses abil-
ity and disability, gender and age Feber
says. "Everyone has excited smiles on
their faces. They are actively involved
and stimulated so they feel good men-
tally, physically and socially"
Brown Center Recreation Coordinator
Jennifer Kellman sees the results of the
enrichment programs on the expres-
sions of the students leaving their class-
"Everyone looks so happy and
relaxed:' Kellman says. "You can see it
on their faces:'

For more information on the Brown Center,

call (248) 661-1836. Allison Batdorff and
Helayne Kaplan work for Your People LLC.

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