Ill And Aged Face Barriers To Sex, Intimacy: Part 1

By Daniel Gaitan (Life Matters Media)

Sex isn’t just for the sexy.

The seriously ill and aged may still enjoy a healthy sex life despite their physical limitations and scars.

“When a person is diagnosed with a serious illness, we know that their priorities may suddenly change,” said Shirley Otis-Green, clinical director of consulting services for Coalition for Compassionate Care of California. “They may find that their energy lags, that their anxieties increase and certainly, they may find themselves facing a numerous set of symptoms.”

However, sexual expression remains a significant factor to patients’ quality of life.

Read at



“How Dementia Works” By

Hello Chicago Bridge Members,

Below is a podcast from that explains several different dementias in an interesting way. It’s great for those getting into the field to give a brief overview to the various types of dementia and how much it is going to become engrossed into our lives as the population suffering from dementia increases at an astounding rate.

Below is the episode summary, as well as the audio itself. I highly recommend taking a listen during lunch or on your commute.

“The number of people suffering from dementia is expected to explode in the coming decades and, in a pleasant surprise, countries around the world are taking steps to plan for the increase in friendly, caring ways.”

Keep learning!

Neil Kelleher

Chicago Bridge – Leader at Large


What is Brain Health? Laugh Lines

This past weekend members of the Chicago Bridge leadership core along with professionals from numerous aging organizations and community members joined together to engage their brains through story telling. The audience was guided through stories and memories from seven story tellers who took listeners on international adventures, humorous everyday moments and brought childhood memories to life. Each tale provided a glimpse into the storyteller’s past and taught the audience important life lessons. In between stories the host CBS’s Ryan Baker provided the audience with important tips on how to keep your brain healthy and active.

Six of the participants were competing for title of best storyteller and a free class at Second City’s Humor Doesn’t Retire: Improv for Seniors.

In case you missed the event we invite you to listen to all the stories, including the winner Omiyale Duparte’s follow @ACLbrainhealth on Facebook or Twitter. If you would like to learn more how to keep your brain engaged visit


NOVEMBER CHICAGO BRIDGE EVENT: “One Couple’s Story: Reflections on a Journey Through Alzheimer’s Disease”

“One Couple’s Story: Reflections on a Journey Through Alzheimer’s Disease”

When:  Wednesday, November, 18th, 6 to 8 pm

Where:  Alzheimer’s Association National Office, Contact Center

225 N. Michigan Avenue, 18th Floor, Chicago, IL, 60601

**Please RSVP by MondayMonday November 16th to Madeline Schork at**

For this event, we will hear from a couple whose life has been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Ben, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and his wife Robin.  They will share with us, in their words, their experiences from the time leading up to the diagnosis, to today. Their story was developed as part of Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Storytelling Program. Their presentation will be followed by ample time for questions and answers.

A big thanks to our generous sponsors, the Alzheimer’s Association, for providing the event space, as well as food and refreshments.

Please note: a security check-in is required at the Concierge desk located on the first floor.  Allow extra time.

Parking passes will be available at the event for $12.00 cash if you park in the Michigan Plaza parking garage.  Information/Directions to the Michigan Plaza parking will follow.  If you are interested in carpooling (giving or receiving a ride), please let us know and we will try to connect you with another Chicago Bridge member if possible. 

The Alzheimer’s Association is located in the Loop, within walking distance of numerous CTA Buses, the Lake Red Line Stop, the State/Lake Green, Orange, Pink, and Purple Line Stop, the Randolph/Wabash Brown Line Stop, and the Metra.


MMAI Explained: Have Questions? We’ve Got Answers

Please consider joining us for what is sure to be an interesting and educational event regarding the changes to Medicare & Medicaid for older adults. Networking + free food included!

When: August 17th, 2015

Where: Chicago Dept of Family and Supportive Services (1615 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL)

Complimentary Parking is available behind the building after 6:00 PM

Accessible by public transportation (near Division Blue Line)

Please RSVP Here:


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:


Chicago Bridge Networking March Event

Join us at the 2015 American Society on Aging, Aging in America Conference. Chicago Bridge will be meeting at Big Bar located at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase on your own. Conference registration is not required.


When: Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
Where: Big Bar, Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel, 151 East Upper Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL
Time: 5:15-7:15pm
We look forward to seeing you!

Save the Date: The Annual Planning Meeting!

What does 2015 hold for the Chicago Bridge?  

Bring your ideas to the Annual Planning Meeting to give your input!

Chicago Bridge members will brainstorm future events and share ideas on where to take the Chicago Bridge into the New Year. Please join us! Our generous sponsor, The Terraces at The Clare, will once again provide a 5-star food experience with dinner and wine provided. The event will be held on the 53rd floor with great views of the lake. This is sure to be another successful event!

If you have never been to a Chicago Bridge meeting or if you are a seasoned member, please know that everyone is welcome!

When: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 from 6pm-8pm.

Where: The Terraces at The Clare 55 E. Pearson St. (53rd Floor) Chicago, IL  60611

Parking & Transportation Details: Complimentary valet parking will be available at The Clare on the Rush Street entrance. The Clare is also accessible via the CTA Red Line Chicago stop, as well CTA Bus #: 3, 10, 26, 36, 66, 125, 143, 146, 147, 148, 151.

Please RSVP by Wednesday, January 14 at:

We look forward to seeing you there!!

– Chicago Bridge Leadership Teams (2012-2014 & 2015-2017)



How Much Does Diet Impact Cognitive Health and Behavior?

For quite some time reports have been surfacing linking diet to a variety of physical diseases. It has become commonplace to hear about the rise of digestive problems, food allergies, several types of cancers, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure being a result of specific foods or the lack of specific foods in our diet. Increasingly research is linking several additives in food that we eat to many of the physically devastating and in often fatal diseases. Typically there is very little focus or discussion on how these additives affect the brain and behavior.

Current research points out that non-genetic Alzheimer’s may share the common link of other diseases to certain foods and additives. But this time, it’s not the excessive intake of sodium or sugar that is resulting in problems with our physical health.  One blog article calls into question the preservatives found in processed foods and the damaging impact on our brain and our cognitive health. This causes me to question how the brain and behavior are affected by other harmful additives in food.

Nitrosamines and Nitrate……Oh my!

There is research suggesting that Alzheimer’s could quite possibly be linked to preservatives traditionally found in processed foods. Preservatives are used to extend shelf life, enhance color, and inhibit the growth of bacteria in food. According to Dr. Suzanne Delaminate, a Neuropathologist at Alpert Medical School, chronic consumption of processed foods containing nitrite preservatives may explain the increased cases of Alzheimer’s. (

The Power of Food

Most of us know how powerful food can be. Perhaps we are not accustomed to describing food as powerful, but it is. It provides us with the energy we need to live. What we choose to eat can have a tremendous impact on our current and future health and quality of life.

Food is a huge source of enjoyment with emotional attachments in many cultures including ours. Some people eat to make themselves feel better when they are depressed. Other people eat when they are anxious or bored.

Many of us have experienced the all too common “food coma” or “carb coma.” Whichever term you prefer, this drastic decline of energy has been experienced by the majority of American’s.  The food coma usually tightly grips you right after eating a meal that is high in fats and rich in carbohydrates. The symptoms of a food coma include difficulty concentrating along with feeling tired or extremely sleepy. This is one simple example of the impact that food can have on our brain and behavior and how immediate the impact can be.

Healthier Options

I came across the following quote by Hippocrates: “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I understand and appreciate the advances in medicine and I am very grateful for them. The simplicity of this quote draws my attention because it echoes words that have traveled throughout generations. Many of us have heard from our parents, grandparents or other sources that we should eat a balanced meal three times a day and limit our sodium and sugar intake.

The primary message for maintaining or improving health has been consistent and resembles the recommendations of the Alzheimer’s Association. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends fresh fish, a delicious variety of fresh vegetables, succulent fresh fruits, coffee, chocolate, fresh strawberries…..  Sound familiar?

Recommendations from the American Cancer Association, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association are basically the same, avoiding foods containing preservative for optimal health.

Preservatives and the type of foods being consumed have traditionally been researched to discover links to diseases of the body, and not the brain. However, the brain receives and uses components from the same foods being consumed. In the not so distant past, the Blood-Brain Barrier was believed to protect the brain from toxic substances.  Many of us unwittingly consume and expose our bodies to a toxic cocktail of harmful substances daily. What impact are these toxic cocktails having on our brain and behavior? Yet a major focus of discussion remains on the impact certain types of foods and additives have on the body.

So what do you think?

If preservatives found in food are being implicated as one of the potential causes of Alzheimer’s, as professionals in the field of Aging, as Social Workers and Mental Health Professionals should we further investigate the possible damaging effects preservatives and other dangerous additives may have on cognitive health and behavior?


Big thanks to Tim Andriano for editing this article.


Chicago Bridge Ten Year Anniversary Recap: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going, Part I

Like all grassroots initiatives, Chicago Bridge was formed out of the mutual recognition of a need. In this case, that need was perceived by a small group of emerging professionals who convened after the 2003 American Society on Aging joint conference with the National Council on Aging. These eager future leaders recognized that together, they could build a network to establish peer support and create opportunities for learning and growth. Their aim was to learn from each other, as well as from more established professionals, all the while finding their place in the field of aging.

Chicago Bridge was originally called Next Wave, but that name was changed in 2006 to distinguish itself from a San Francisco group of the same name.

Years later, the Chicago Bridge name is recognized as a reputable group of professionals who share a passion for developing their own skills in service of the older adult population in and around Chicago.

Since the beginning, Chicago Bridge has evolved and grown a tremendous amount, but it has always been entirely driven by members. There have quite consistently been monthly events, which allowed members the chance to both teach and learn, while nourishing their professional network.

Topics have ranged from elder abuse to multiculturalism, to State and Federal initiatives to dementia, LGBT aging and many more.

There have been events dedicated solely to networking, like the Annual Leadership Launch, as well as volunteer events, like the intergenerational community garden launch. Some events are just for fun. In 2008, the blog was developed as a creative way to share our expertise and enthusiasm for various aging-related topics. In 2010, the Mentorship Program was launched and 2011 brought the formation of the Creativity and Aging Special Interest Group. Our social media presence has also kept up with the times (join us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter)!

These innovations and events, as well as many others, have shaped Chicago Bridge in accordance with Our Mission and Vision.

Mission: To provide opportunities for professional development, leadership, and support to emerging professionals in the field of aging.

Vision: To inspire and invigorate connected, passionate, and informed professionals to be a part of the transformation of an aging America.

The 2013-2015 Leadership Corps has worked to enhance membership data, expand our recruitment efforts, and maintain the quality of the monthly events. We would like to humbly and sincerely recognize the hard work of all the past leaders and active members who have made Chicago Bridge what it is today.

Thank you to Sari Shuman for the picture of some of the original members and leaders (from left: Sari Shuman, Laura Rosenfeld, Kate Krajci, Anna-Liisa LaCroix, Karen Kolb Flude, Amy Wiatr-Rodriguez, Deb DelSignore, and Amy Eisenstein).

 Looking back on the past 10 years, we’d like to know:

  1. How has Chicago Bridge helped shape your career path?
  2. What memorable experiences have you had through Chicago Bridge?
  3. How has your work been enriched through your connection with Chicago Bridge?

Looking onward to the next 10 years, we want to discover:

  1. How do you envision Chicago Bridge developing?
  2. What innovations or changes do you hope to see?
  3. What will you do to strengthen your reciprocal relationship with Chicago Bridge (examples: write an article for the blog, join the Mentorship Program, host an event, create a special interest group)?

In the member-driven spirit of Chicago Bridge, please send your responses to any of these questions to Shannon Stone at Make the subject of your email “TEN YEARS!” and tell us what you think. The responses will be compiled and published as Part 2 of this article.