A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


The MemoryCare Plays: Three one-act dramas about living with memory loss at Taproot Theatre

March 31st, 2015 by Doree

The Greenwood Senior Center has partnered with Taproot Theatre and Full Life Care for a staged reading of award-winning plays about living with memory loss at 7:30 p.m. on May 8 and 9. Each performance will be followed by a conversation with The University of Washington’s renowned memory loss expert, Dr. Soo Borson.

The shows will be in Taproot’s new Isaac Studio Theatre, 212 N. 85th St.

Tickets for the May 8 performance are $50 for patrons, $100 for benefactors. Both include a preshow reception. Benefactors will receive a signed book by local author Esther Altshul Helfgott. The May 9 performances are $25 general, $15 seniors and students.

Proceeds from all ticket sales benefit ongoing arts programs for individuals experiencing memory loss and their caregivers.

About the MemoryCare Plays: The MemoryCare Plays came about through the efforts of Dr. Margaret Noel and the MemoryCare organization, based in Asheville, North Carolina. The organization put out a call in 2012 for one-act plays that highlight the issues families face when a loved one suffers from dementia. The result was 91 submissions from the US, Canada, UK and Australia. The final scripts which comprise The MemoryCare Plays were selected by a juried committee based on the playwright’s insight and skill in communicating themes and ideas in a way that would deepen understanding for families, caregivers and the larger community.

The MemoryCare Plays received a bronze medal for best anthology at the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards which honor the year’s best independently published books. The 2014 “IPPY” Awards contest drew over 5,500 entries from authors and publishers in all 50 U.S. states, nine Canadian provinces, and 32 countries overseas. For more information go www.memorycareplays.org

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‘Momentia! The New Dementia Story’ tonight at Taproot, presented by Greenwood Senior Center

March 11th, 2014 by Doree

The Greenwood Senior Center continues its groundbreaking efforts for those living with memory loss with a special presentation tonight (Tuesday) at Taproot Theatre’s new Kendall Center, 208 N. 85th St.

“Momentia! The New Dementia Story” is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and moderated by Marigrace Becker, MSW, from the Greenwood Senior Center.

Hear ‘the new dementia story’ as told by persons living with memory loss and demonstrated by innovative programs transforming our community!

Interactive presentations include: “Faces of Memory Loss” project; Taproot Theatre dementia- friendly improv; Frye Art Museum here:now arts engagement program.

Want to experience even more? Stop by the Greenwood Alzheimer’s Café beforehand, 3:30-5 p.m., at Ampersand Café, 424 N 85th St.

$10 Suggested Donation to WPN (Washington Pioneer Network Conversation Cafe) includes appetizers. Drinks available to purchase. RSVP to Lindsey Ismailova at lindseyi@fulllifecare.org, 206-224-3764.

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Memory loss brings them together, but the memories keep them coming back

November 26th, 2013 by Doree

By Shelby Ehlert, University of Washington News Lab

Most of us can remember a time in our childhood when we visited the local zoo, giddy with excitement to explore the exotic sights, sounds and smells. For one group of people, it’s memory itself that brings them to the Woodland Park Zoo in Phinney Ridge every Monday.

Since its inception in early 2011, the Memory Loss Walk has drawn individuals diagnosed with early-stage memory loss and their caregivers to partake in a morning zoo walk followed by coffee and conversation.

The program is sponsored by several organizations that partnered “because they wanted to offer individuals with mild memory loss the opportunity to join a supportive program that emphasizes socialization as well as the importance of living a healthy lifestyle,” according to Liz Rhine of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The groups involved are the Alzheimer’s Association’s Western and Central Washington State Chapter, Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Lifelong Recreation Program, the Phinney Neighborhood Association and Greenwood Senior Center, Rhine said in an email.

It was a chilly but sunny autumn morning when we met in the Woodland Park Zoo parking lot before heading out for the Northern Trail tour of the zoo.

As soon as the walk began I quickly forgot the environment we were in and became so enthralled in the conversation that it was easy to miss the many animals we passed, as these were clearly not the focus of the walkers.

This was much more than a community activity for individuals with early-stage memory loss and their caregivers – this was a family. They are united by a common experience unique to their group.

“ I think what I benefit most from is the time we spend together,” said Roger Stocker, a participant of the walk since early 2011. “It’s nice to see the stuff we see going around the zoo and I wouldn’t discredit that at all, but I think the big part of it is…the existence and presence of these people. What makes it different from other people is that we have something that we share.”


Memory Loss Walk participants take in the zoo’s bear exhibit.

As Rhine noted, the walk “offers participants an opportunity to hold conversations in a safe and stimulating environment around others who can relate and offer support.”

“You can talk about Alzheimer’s in this group,” said Ruth Mulligan, who has been participating in the walk for a year. “That’s one big difference (compared with other social settings.”

Charlie Reidy, a participant who is affected by Alzheimer’s, said there is a stigma around the disease: People are afraid of it. Because of this, the Alzheimer’s Association provides programs to bridge the gap between individuals with Alzheimer’s and the public. Reidy attends another program that helps people with early-stage memory loss learn to improvise when communicating because the struggle to recall specific words is one of the first symptoms of memory loss.

Reidy said that people react very uncomfortably if they’re talking to someone with memory loss who stops cold in the middle of a sentence. They don’t know how to respond. However, the discomfort can be avoided or at least mitigated if the individual with memory loss can learn to keep talking — even out of context — rather than dwell on the word they’re attempting to recall, Reidy said.

It’s small programs like this that the Alzheimer’s Association, along with its partners, work to provide for individuals with early-stage memory loss that are truly making a difference.

“What we’ve kind of taken as a reminder is that it is what it is,” Stocker said. “What we’ve decided is the only way we can really deal with this is take it one day at a time and live life at the moment.”

“And to the fullest,” added Myriam Marquez, another participant in the walk and an active Alzheimer’s advocate.

For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association’s programs and services and ways to get involved, please contact the 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900 or visit them online at www.alzwa.org.

Shelby Ehlert is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.

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‘Dear Alzheimer’s’ author reading and book signing Friday afternoon

October 17th, 2013 by Doree

The Greenwood Senior Center presents “Dear Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems” reading and book signing from 3-4:30 p.m. on Friday at 525 N. 85th St. In the book, poet and author Esther Alshul Helfgott chronicles her last years caring for her husband as his Alzheimer’s disease progressed. Books will be available for sale.

Please RSVP at 206-297-0875.

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Greenwood Senior Center class focuses on improv and theatre to deal with memory loss, screens documentary ‘The Penelope Project’

June 10th, 2013 by Doree

The Greenwood Senior Center, 525 N. 85th St., continues to expand its services for those dealing with memory loss, including a new four-week series and a documentary screening.

“Re-ignite the Mind with Improvisation and Play” runs from 1-2 p.m. on Wednesdays, from June 12 – July 3. Cost is $10 for PNA Members, $15 for non-members for the series. There is no charge for care partners. Call 206-297-0875 to register.

This four week class uses improvisation and theatre games to tap into the creative abilities of individuals experiencing early stage memory loss (ESML) and their care partners. Improv participants engage fully in the present, making improvisation a perfect theatre class for students living with memory loss. There is no memory requirement, just a delight of participating in a creative experience that releases the imagination while giving a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence and social enrichment. The class, taught by theatre professionals from Taproot Theatre, promises an hour where participants find success as they learn new things, interact socially and live creatively in the moment.

Care partners are encouraged to attend, but it’s not mandatory, as this class can add a wonderful new dimension to daily life. This program is subsidized by the Washington Health Foundation.

The newly-released documentary “The Penelope Project” will be screened at the GSC at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19, as a benefit for creative programming for people living with dementia. The event starts at 4 p.m. with a “happy half-hour,” followed by the one-hour movie at 4:30 p.m. and a discussion with experts in our community on creative engagement in aging services.

Cost is $10; all proceeds will benefit the Greenwood Senior Center and Elderwise. Make a reservation online, or call 206-297-0875.

What is the Penelope Project? Using the story of Penelope from Homer’s Odyssey, a team of staff, residents, artists, and students engaged an entire long term care community in Wisconsin in creativity and learning. Everyone was welcome. Discussion groups, movement exercises, visual art, stories, and music all emerged from this multi-year project that culminated in the performance of FINDING PENELOPE, a professionally-produced play staged inside the care facility. Over 400 people attended the performances. Here is a link to a small clip from the film.

There is work being done in the greater Seattle community to bring a bold, optimistic, innovative and creative approach and vision to programs for people living with dementia and other chronic diseases in and out of long term care facilities. This documentary will highlight this exceptional experiment and be an inspiration for more opportunity and collaborations.

The Greenwood Senior Center is a program of the Phinney Neighborhood Association and in the last three years has created and added creative programming for people living with dementia. Elderwise is a daily program that recognizes and nurtures the value and wholeness of older adults, regardless of their cognitive or physical ability, and using art techniques meets their need to experience life deeply in the present.

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Greenwood Senior Center hosting open house for memory loss program The Gathering Place

April 4th, 2013 by Doree

The Greenwood Senior Center is hosting an open house for The Gathering Place, a weekly afternoon program for those living with early stage memory loss (ESML).

The open house is from 3:30-5 p.m. next Wednesday, April 10, at the Senior Center, 525 N. 85th St. It is for memory loss professionals, individuals diagnosed with an early stage memory loss, and family caregivers.

The Gathering Place is a warm, inviting community for those diagnosed with ESML. Meeting every Thursday from 1 – 4 PM, the program includes activities that build on strengths and engage mind and body. The afternoon begins with a time of sharing and updates from the week. Next participants review their homework, then spend a half hour exercising through yoga, qi gong or line dancing. Participants then enjoy refreshments and informal discussion. The day concludes with creative exploration via visual arts, theatre, improvisation, poetry or music and cognitive stimulation such as games, puzzles or other activities to engage the mind.

Participants form a community that offers structure, meaning and purpose to their lives.

This program, developed by the GSC’s social worker Carin Mack, MSW and Mari Becker, MSW, has been running for two years. Screening with Carin Mack is required before participation.

For further information call 206-297-0875.

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Alzheimer’s Café moving from Mae’s to Ampersand Pantry and Café

February 8th, 2013 by Doree

The monthly Alzheimer’s Café, for people with memory loss and their caregivers, is moving from Mae’s Café to Ampersand Pantry and Café, 424 N. 85th St., starting on Tuesday, Feb. 12. The café is from 3:30- 5 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month.

Sponsored by the Greenwood Senior Center, it’s a time for those suffering from memory loss to get out and socialize in a safe environment, with no judgment or expectations. There is no cost other than your food and drink.

Parking is available at the Greenwood Senior Center across the street, or at the Bank of America lot just west of the café.

For more information about the Alzheimer’s Café, call Carin Mack at 206-297-0875.

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Greenwood Senior Center has two new programs for people living with memory loss

June 7th, 2011 by Doree

The Greenwood Senior Center, 525 N. 85th St., is now offering two new programs for those affected by memory loss, including caregivers.

The Gathering Place is an expansion of the senior center’s monthly support groups for those living with Early Stage Memory Loss (ESML).

The Gathering Place, held from 1 – 4 p.m. every Thursday afternoon, provides stimulating activities and discussion in a small group format. Participants build on their strengths, by engaging in mental and physical activities, learning coping strategies while developing meaningful relationships.

Following well-established guidelines used in ESML programs across the nation, and facilitated by an MSW graduate, The Gathering Place incorporates problem solving and discussion, creative arts, exercise, intellectual stimulation, and refreshments. Throughout the day, participants may be found reading a play from the local Taproot Theatre, baking muffins, writing poetry, doing yoga, offering each other stress management tips, or playing games that encourage brain health.

Benefits from these kinds of programs include increased knowledge of how to cope with ESML, improved mood, enhanced social connections, and increased sense of structure and purpose.

The Gathering Place costs $35 per day. Scholarships are available.

The Alzheimer Café is a special opportunity for those living with Alzheimer’s to have a meal together once a month. It will be held once a month at Mae’s Phinney Ridge Café, 6412 Phinney Ave. N. This will be the second Alzheimer’s Café in the U.S.

Modeled after a movement in Europe of social gatherings for people with Alzheimer and their care partners, the Alzheimer Cafe provides an opportunity to get out and socialize in a safe environment. “Safe in the way that people can be themselves with no judgment and no expectations,” said Jytte Lokvig, who has created the first café in the US in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Our neighborhood café will have its first gathering on Tuesday, August 9 from 3:30 – 5 PM and Mae’s fabulous ice cream will make this first gathering an ice cream social.

To learn more about The Gathering Place or the Alzheimer Café, or to make a pre-registration appointment, call Greenwood Senior Center social worker Carin Mack, MSW, at (206) 297-0875 or (206) 230-0166.

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