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In Case You Missed It: October Volunteer Event with HOME

On Wednesday October 21, Chicago Bridge hosted a volunteer event with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) in the Pat Crowley House. The house accommodates 12 seniors who need assistance with daily living tasks, four resident assistants, and one family an intergenerational community. The event was coordinated by Paula Plathe and Anne West with the assistance of the Pat Crowley Housing Coordinator, Caren Arden-Tabani.

Chicago Bridge volunteers secured a food donation from Jewel-Osco and prepared a meal for the house’s community night. Volunteers also decorated the house’s dining room to celebrate birthdays for two residents. During the dinner, volunteers and residents had an “ice-breaker” and discussed aspects of the living community that they appreciated. After dinner, Caren led the volunteers through a tour of the house and answered questions about intergenrational living models and the house’s successes and challenges. You can learn more about H.O.M.E. and their phenomenal services for older adults in Chicago by visiting their websites at www.homeseniors.org.


In Case You Missed It: Death Cafe

On Wednesday May 20th, Chicago Bridge hosted a Death Cafe at the Replogle Center in downtown Chicago. The event was coordinated by Grace Thornton and Dan Bulf. Elise Magers of the Replogle Center (location host) and Lydia Morris from Gentle Home Care (our generous food sponsor) gave a brief presentations about the services that their agencies provide. Dan Bulf gave an overview of the history and philosophy behind Death Cafes, which are being hosted around the world to facilitate conversations about death and dying. Dan led us in a conversation about our own experiences and beliefs, including questions like: What do you consider a “good” death? Whose death affected you the most and why? and What do you want your legacy to be? Along the way, we discussed our feelings surrounding these conversations about death, and how both talking and listening to others speak about death and dying affected us. Overall, the evening was a wonderfully eye-opening and reflective experience. You can learn more about Death Cafes at: http://www.deathcafe.com


In Case You Missed It: Movie Showing at Lieberman Center

On Wednesday 2/18, The Chicago Bridge gathered for an event at Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Skokie.  After informal networking and dinner, the group viewed part of the film, “Still Mine,” which depicted a couple in their 80’s living in rural Nova Scotia.  The wife had dementia and in order to honor her wishes of not moving into town, her husband was building them a new, one-story house.  The film depicted the complicated family dynamics that often bubble up when there are disagreement about what type of care is best.  The Chicago Bridge group discussed the film and shared thoughts from our own professional and personal experiences.

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In Case You Missed It: Annual Planning Meeting

We had an excellent group of Chicago Bridge members in attendance at our Annual Planning Meeting at The Clare on 1/21/2015.

New members of The Chicago Bridge leadership team were introduced by their predecessors and everyone in attendance had the opportunity to network while enjoying a 5 star dining experience.

Many great ideas were brainstormed for events to take place in calendar year 2015.  Events that were chosen are as follows:

  • February: Movie Showing at Lieberman Nursing Home
  • March: ASA Networking Event
  • April: Leadership Launch
  • May: Death Cafe
  • June: Legal Services and Estate Planning
  • July: Social Event
  • August: Managed Care
  • September: Book Club
  • October: Volunteer Event
  • November: Early Stage Dementia Panel
  • December: Winter Social Event

A reminder that all events take place on the third Wednesday of each month and occur between 6-8 pm.  Look for specific details on each event as we get closer to the scheduled dates.  We look forward to having an excellent 2015!


In Case You Missed It: Still Alice Book Discussion

A group of Chicago Bridge members gathered at Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services to eat dinner and discuss “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova on 11/19/14.

This group included some members who had read the book years ago and others who had just read it over the weekend.  It was an intimate discussion about the character Alice and how Alzheimer’s Disease changed her perceptions and priorities and those of her family, but the disease did not change other things.

Everyone in the group shared their experience caring for people with dementia and reflected on which parts of the book resonated most with their experience and those that did not seem as realistic. The group also discussed how the social and health services that professionals provide could have helped the family cope.


In Case You Missed It: September Volunteer Event, Paint-a-thon

On Saturday, September 13th, a Chicago Bridge team of 9 volunteers participated in the 27th annual community Paint-A-Thon in North/Northwest Suburban Chicago. Paint-A-Thon serves 10 townships: Barrington, Elk Grove, Hanover, Maine, New Trier, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Schaumburg, and Wheeling Townships. This was the first year Chicago Bridge participated in the Paint-A-Thon event. .

The community Paint-A-Thon is a unique community partnership designed to paint the exterior of homes owned and occupied by persons with limited financial resources. To be eligible, homeowners must be at least 60 years of age or have a permanent disability. They must be physically unable to paint their homes themselves. In 2014, the household income must be under $36,000 yearly or $3000 monthly. Medical expenses and special circumstances are also taken into consideration.
Teams are recruited from businesses, churches, social service, and civic groups. Volunteers are assigned to scrape, prime, and paint each house. More than 25 homes were chosen to be painted as part of this year’s Paint-A-Thon. Over the last 26 years, 15,331 Paint-A-Thon volunteers have painted 734 homes with 14,300 gallons of donated paint.
To learn more about Paint-A-Thon, please find more information on the Hands On Suburban Chicago website: http://www.handsonsuburbanchicago.org/Paint_A_Thon

In Case You Missed It: August Death with Dignity Event

On August 20th, Chicago Bridge hosted an event which addressed possibly one of the next social issues of our time, Death with Dignity. The panelists touched a variety of topics concerning death with dignity in terms of its social, cultural, legal, emotional, spiritual, and structural implications. Encompassing a variety of perspectives and experiences, our panelists successfully engaged the attendees in a thought-provoking discussion which touched a versatility of points.

Special thanks to Phyllis B. Mitzen of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration who moderated the panel and introduced us to the four impressive panelists. The Chicago Bridge would also like to share a special thanks to both Trish Abby from the Kott Gerontological  Institute who kindly donated the space to host the event, and Heather Lundstrom and Moses Williams of Oak Park Arms who graciously provided such a wonderful meal for our attendees and panelists.  We had a total of 33 attendees in the event, with 40 RSVP’s. Unfortunately we could not accommodate all who did RSVP to the event, however such a dramatic response demonstrates the overall significance of the topic discussed.

The panelists included Ed Gogol, President of Hemlock Illinois, Patricia J. Whitney, MBA, MA,  Bereavement Specialist for Alexian Brothers Hospice, Bruce Koff, LCSW, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Office of Live Oak, and Clayton L. Thomason, J.D., M.Div, Chairman of the Department of Religion, Health and Human Values, and Director of the Program in Healthcare Ethics at Rush University.

The discussion began with Ed Gogol who presented to the group the framework of Death with Dignity. Mr. Gogol posed the question; “What does it mean to do no harm?” specifically in the context at end of life. Mr. Gogol touched on the ethical and legal implications associated with the choice to die.  Additionally Mr. Gogol addressed the legal framework currently in place domestically, as well as abroad as the framework that may shape the death with dignity conversation.

Patricia Whitney was the next panelist to present, addressing the discrepancies that surface through the provision of care at the end of life as an indication of the need for greater education for both Physicians and Families. Ms. Whitney recognized that overall, at times Physicians and Families may not have the tools appropriate to navigate the difficult conversations and understand all options. Ms. Whitney commented that it appears within the Western culture, Physicians often have control over the end of life issue and made a point to note that significance. Ms. Whitney stated that at times, a burden may be placed on the family without appropriate support, due to the very nature of the structures currently in place.

Bruce Koff facilitated a connection between the talking points of Ms. Whitney as he conducted a conversation  focused on the structural perspective regarding the family system and overall family decision. Mr. Koff acknowledged that often what is forgotten is that the family are the survivors and this movement should focus on ensuring that dignity is instilled within the family as well through the loss that they experience. Mr. Koff provided a personal experience to illustrate his point regarding the influence of family systems. Mr. Koff also touched on the culture bound definitions of death with dignity and the influence of a cultural lens in terms of what is defined as a dignified death.

Clayton Thomason rounded out the initial discussion session where he began by addressing the idea of a false sense that we strive to believe we are “in control.” “We suffer under the illusion of being in control” and this is dictated to us from a Western Philosophical point of view. Professor Thomason then provided an evident example of the need to redefine medical, social, and legal structures through exemplifying Hospice regulations. Medicare regulates that for one to qualify for Hospice he/she must be provided a diagnosis of 6 months or less to live, and that, per Ms. Whitney, the average length of stay for a Hospice patient is 15 days. The model of “6 months or less to live” is an old model of care as it demonstrates the failure to grasp the reality of end of life.

Once the panelists concluded their time of initial topic introduction, an opportunity arose for the panelists to respond to one another’s thoughts and ideas that they presented. It was a lively discussion which paired the realities of social, legal, and cultural structures, with that of how these systems could change. Death with Dignity continues to be a controversial topic, and this discussion is just the beginning what this choice dictates and demonstrated it as an essential topic that necessitates continued conversation.

For more information below is a list of a few informative websites:

·Compassion and Choices: http://www.Compassionandchoices.org

·Death with Dignity National Center: www.deathwithdignity.org

·Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (ERGO): www.finalexit.org

·Final Exit Network: www.finalexitnetwork.org

·Hemlock of Illinois: www.hemlockofillinois.org/

·The world Federation of Right to Die Societies: www.worldrtd.net


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In Case You Missed It: Chicago Bridge Summer Social, July 16th 2014

On Wednesday July 16th, an estimate of 15 Chicago members attended the 2014 Summer Music in the Park program. The event was a potluck and the members enjoyed a free concert that featured George Fenton. He conducted his music to the Blue Planet that illustrated underwater pictures throughout the program.

Due to the crowd, Chicago Bridge members couldn’t find the front and center spot on the great lawn, but found an area that was just as good. Chicago Bridge members stood with signs allowing for others to be seen. The Music at the Park was a great excuse for the Chicago Bridge members to come out to mingle and relax with great entertainment. Many of the members were returning members who had attended last year’s event. Despite the crowdness, the weather and the potluck style had a great outcome.

We look forward to upcoming social events! If you have any ideas for future events, please contact our leadership core.


In Case You Missed It: June 2014 Event, Intergenerational Programming

The Chicago Bridge June event “Intergenerational Programming” took place at The Terraces at The Clare on June 18th from 6 to 8 pm.   Coordinated by Bridge members Rebekah Cowing and Maggie Domaradzki, the event included dinner and drinks and a panel discussion.  The panelists included Victoria Gregor, Director, Casa Infantil at Casa Central; Peg Schuetz, Adult Day Care Manager, Condell Day Center for Intergenerational Care; and Christine Bertrand, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. The panel was skillfully moderated by Maureen Statland, Chair, Chicago Metro Intergenerational Committee.


After attendees enjoyed the delicious dinner generously provided by The Clare, they listened to a panel discussion centered on the benefits of intergenerational programming for older adults, children and youth, and organizations and the larger community.

Thank you to the panelists, The Terraces at The Clare, and the event coordinators for a successful event!