‘Making moments matter’: Silver Club provides enrichment for individuals with memory loss

September 11, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Every weekday, adults come to the Turner Senior Resource Center on Plymouth Road for a chance to play games, create artwork or sing along to their favorite tunes. Others just want to spend time with their friends.

They are all part of Silver Club, a program designed to allow individuals with dementia or other forms of memory loss a chance to lead enriching lives.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the program and, in celebration, Headlines is taking a closer look at how it has impacted club members and their families over the past two decades.

Finding meaning

Silver Club was formed in 1998 in conjunction with the opening of the Turner Senior Resource Center. Since its inception, it has expanded to include several unique offerings, depending on a club member’s diagnosis. For instance, the day program runs from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and is designed for individuals with moderate to severe memory loss.

“This program is a vital, stimulating resource for many of our members,” said Shannon Etcheverry, director of Silver Club. “We provide a nurturing environment for them to meet with others who are going through similar challenges, while giving them chances to contribute to meaningful activities.”

The members created artwork that went on display this past spring at the Ypsilanti Public Library and, during each holiday season, design greeting cards that are sold to help raise funds and awareness for Silver Club.

But to Etcheverry, it’s the music therapy programs, physical fitness activities and gardening opportunities that stand out the most.

“You get to see people smiling and completing goals that they struggled to complete before coming here,” she said. “We’re making moments matter.”

A learning opportunity

Other programs offered by Silver Club are geared toward those who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

“We offer members a number of educational opportunities,” said Etcheverry. “This is when we help them learn the latest science behind memory loss and pass along coping strategies and other mechanisms that will allow them to live well while managing their diagnosis.”

Silver Club has also created group sessions for members with similar interests. There is a coffeehouse group that carries out small topical discussions, while the Elderberry Club is designed specifically for women who take field trips to the U-M Museum of Art and participate in volunteer opportunities.

Focused on family

Silver Club has six regular staff members — including social workers and memory loss specialists — along with several part-time volunteers. They are all committed to creating a family-like atmosphere.

It’s a comforting environment that is appreciated by club members who attend the programs regularly. However, Silver Club has proven vital to family members, as well.

“Our members often require constant attention at home,” Etcheverry said. “So our programs offer caretakers a chance to go to work, run some errands or simply enjoy some alone time. We hear all the time how important that is.”

In the end, Silver Club gives everyone a glimpse into what’s possible for adults and families, even after a life-altering diagnosis.

“Memory loss or dementia doesn’t mean that your life is over,” Etcheverry said. “Our members prove every day that there are experiences and activities out there that give everyone a purpose. We’re honored to help them carry those out.”