Therapeutic recreation success stories

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Some would say the department helps create the true sense of milieu de vie at Donald Berman and Jewish Eldercare Centre.  Therapeutic Recreation is about more than just playing bingo (although many residents do love a good game). With the support of the Foundation, our Recreation team is able to think outside the box and offer residents a wide range of stimulating activities.

MORE: DEPRESSION IN THE ELDERLY: WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE?

Art therapy is a popular program at Donald Berman Maimonides.  Many residents only pick up a paintbrush for the first time with art therapist Sondra Goldman but quickly become budding artists – creating amazing works of art from landscapes to abstract art to multimedia.  Every year, the residents’ artwork is showcased in a special vernissage and exhibition that is open to the public.  The residents have the opportunity to really translate their feelings onto a blank canvas.  Here’s what some of them had to say about being supported through the artistic process:

I make art with the help of Miss Sondra’s inspiration.  Colours catch me and inspire me as well.

Abstract allows you to take art and live with it and even the darkest of emotions have a place.

This piece represents our togetherness. Raisie and I have been married for 67 wonderful years.  It was meaningful for us to make this and made us feel close to Sondra.  It was an intimate experience.

When I get down in the dumps, the darkness comes out and I get negative.  I can express it through paint.

The Donald Berman Maimonides Foundation was pleased to receive a special donation this year from Wilensky’s Light Lunch.  The iconic Montreal restaurant pools their tips each year and donates to charity.  Wilensky’s picked Donald Berman Maimonides as the lucky recipient and the funds are being put toward an innovative program featured in the award-winning documentary “Alive Inside”.  The program provides ipods and customized playlists for residents with advanced dementia – the magic happens upon hearing the music they enjoy.  Upon hearing how the funds were being used, Sharon Wilensky said: I am honored that the money is going to such a worthwhile project! We will certainly contribute again in the future so that you can buy more iPods, or something else that is needed.

MORE: WHY WE NEED A NATIONAL SENIORS STRATEGY

The Moment in Time program at Maimonides offers residents a chance to experience a wish come true.  Maimonides resident Rosaline Tafler is the latest recipient of a Moment in Time wish. After telling us she missed eating Chinese food, we ordered her a Chinese meal. Rosaline was served with white gloves and her room was set up with a tablecloth, flower centerpiece and classical music playing in the background. She kept saying that it was the best wish she could have asked for!!

Jewish Eldercare resident Myrna Kravitz-Krackovitch wanted to attend her grandchildren’s B’nei Mitzvah. The Moment in Time committee made arrangements to ensure Myrna had special transportation, snacks and someone to accompany her.  As a result, Myrna was able to be a special part of a milestone event for her grandchildren.

Jewish Eldercare resident Gerald Reinharz visiting the fire station with Recreation Specialist Josie DiBenedetto.
Jewish Eldercare resident Gerald Reinharz visiting the fire station with Recreation Specialist Josie DiBenedetto.

Jewish Eldercare resident Gerald Reinharz had the opportunity to visit a local fire station.  The staff at Jewish Eldercare knew Gerald had a passion for fire trucks and made the arrangements for a visit.  At the end of their tour, the firefighters gave Gerald a hat, shirt and badge from their precinct.  Gerald passed away not long after the visit, but everyone who knew him was so happy he was able to enjoy the experience at the end of his life.  Josie di Benedetto, a Jewish Eldercare staff member  who sits on the Moment in Time selection committee accompanied him on the visit.  Looking at Gerald’s smile in the photo taken that day that now sits on her desk, di Benedetto says: “That is why we have this program”.