Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Foundation of America

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Chooses Thelma’s Place, of Canby, Oregon, as National Winner of its Brodsky Innovation Grant

Organization Will Receive $25,000 Grant to Create Intergenerational Sensory Garden for Individuals with Alzheimer’s and Young Children

(July 5, 2018)— The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) announced that Thelma’s Place, an adult day center in Canby, Oregon, is the national winner of its 2018 Anne and Irving Brodsky Innovation Grant.  Thelma’s Place won the national award for its Intergenerational Sensory Garden – The Garden of Life.  Designed to create an enriching, educational environment for intergenerational programming for both individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and pre-school aged children, it provides opportunities for interaction and relaxation in a safe, home-like environment.

“Until a cure is found, the need for new, innovative programs that enhance the quality of life for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease will continue to grow.  Thelma’s Place is helping to meet that growing need,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.  “Their new, unique Intergenerational Sensory Garden is an interactive program that brings individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and children together to stimulate their minds, be creative and enjoy themselves.  We are pleased award this funding to Thelma’s Place and help them provide this new opportunity to both seniors and children.”

“When my mother was living with Alzheimer’s disease, there were no programs or places to turn to get support.  We provide this grant to give others what wasn’t available at that time; innovative programs that improve the quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and set an example which other organizations can follow.  Thelma’s Place is doing just that; providing a place where adults and children can learn, interact and have fun together.  Congratulations to them on earning this award and raising the bar on Alzheimer’s care,” said Bert E. Brodsky, AFA’s Founder and Board Chairman.  The grant is named in honor of Mr. Brodsky’s parents.

Ellen Coburn, Executive Director of Thelma’s Place, said, “Thelma’s Place is honored to receive this award and to be placed amongst the distinguished ranks of those of past honorees who have made important contributions to the Alzheimer’s community. We thank our founder, Erik Berkey, whose innovative vision to provide both respite and now intergenerational services to bridge the gap between young and old, to communities in Oregon, has made an impact on helping families living with Alzheimer’s remain together as long as possible providing supportive services such as Thelma’s Place.”

Coburn notes that when a Thelma’s Place participant’s ability to communicate or perform everyday tasks decreases, having an outlet for expression and to interact with children, while exploring nature, can empower, lift moods, improve self-esteem and positively impact their well-being.  The joy of children can also trigger dormant memories or emotions and stimulate interactions.  She has observed that interweaving children with Alzheimer’s participants for intergenerational interaction on a daily basis within a shared facility has resulted in delightful interactions, improving the lives of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease through increased connectedness, renewed purpose for living, enhanced feelings of self-worth, improved behaviors, and an opportunity to express laughter and an unconditional love with children in need of an enhanced sense of belonging, empathy and development.

The Garden of Life uses both an explorative play and learning space for children as well as a healing and therapeutic environment for seniors.  It allows for opportunities for interaction and observation, while utilizing the five senses, and it promotes inclusion.  The garden is filled with opportunities to stimulate the mind and create a joyful atmosphere.  Bringing all ages together, it will include diverse sensory garden “stations”, from the Tasting Garden’s raised plant beds that allow for wheelchair access to the Sound Garden’s musical instruments and the Observation Garden’s displays of nesting sites for birds and insects.

The stations are intended to produce various results, such as igniting creative expression and providing stress release through music in the Sound Garden, and imagination in the Exploration Garden.  In addition, this program allows caregivers to receive much –needed respite while also offering their families and caregivers support groups and education.

Thelma’s Place offers respite for caregivers of individuals with dementia while their loved ones participate in daily activities. They aim to enrich the lives of their elderly participants with a warm, friendly atmosphere, caring support and engaging activities.  Their setting focuses on socialization, learning memory enhancement activities, enjoying a variety of music, art and fitness programs.

Initiated in 2005, AFA awards the $25,000 Brodsky Innovation Grant annually to one of its nonprofit member organizations for a groundbreaking program or service that improves the lives of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.  The program must fulfill a great need within the community and demonstrate potential for replication.