Blog

Thinking About Volunteering?

Winter is a great time to escape Wisconsin snow and cold for some of our volunteers. But that means Among Friends is a little shorthanded during the winter months. If you are looking for an opportunity to do some good while having fun, we might be the right fit for you.

“What can I do?” you might be asking.

You know those travel slides, photos, and books you have tucked away? How about bringing them to Among Friends and sharing them? Our participants love to hear about and see images of places near and far.
Are you a cribbage player? We can use you!

We can always use people to welcome participants and their caregivers as they arrive, to help with lunch, or simply to chat with our participants during activities. If you would like to volunteer, contact Norma at 715-293-2561.

A Very Merry Christmas

Christmas came a little early to Among Friends on December 17th. For a third year, we invited the community to join us to share the best songs of the season, good cheer, and cookies!

The Gugala family, who regularly visit Among Friends, not only sang together but also shared their other musical skills on the piano and violin. Martha TerMaat, Among Friend’s musical director, along with volunteer Ruth McNamara, led everyone in our favorite Christmas carols. One of our other regular volunteers, Bob Emberger, read some poems for the group, including Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Volunteer Lou Grube played a couple of our favorite carols on the concertina.

Among Friends volunteers, participants, and families had a great time sharing the spirit of the holidays. We also had lots of great homemade cookies and drinks. But best of all were the conversations we all had, remembering special Christmases and anticipating ones to come.

All of the staff and volunteers at Among Friends wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Among Friends will not be open on December 24th, but we have lots of fun activities planned for New Year’s Eve day on December 31st to bring in a joyous 2020!

Cookies and Carols

On Tuesday, December 17th at 1:30, Among Friends is hosting our third annual community holiday song program. The afternoon will include music and readings from our volunteers, an opportunity to sing some of your favorite holiday music, and some sweet treats.

Please join us in the fellowship hall at First Congregational UCC, 110 North Third Street in River Falls. Everyone in the community is welcome!

Dogs–and Fun!

Who doesn’t like a lick on the face, a snuggle, or a loving look from big brown eyes? Participants at Among Friends on a dreary November day experienced a little sunshine with the UW-River Falls students and their dogs in the ADEPT program (Assistance Dog Education Program and Training).

The mission of Among Friends is to provide many different kinds of socialization opportunities. Quality time with furry buddies, music, art, chair yoga, and other activities are all part of our day.

If you know someone with memory loss, let their caregiver know about who we are and what services we can offer. Give us a call (715) 293-2561 or send us an email at amongfriendsrf@gmail.com.

Caring for Caregivers

Next month four former U.S. Surgeon Generals will appear at the International Council on Active Aging in Orlando, Florida, to demand a national infrastructure to help family caregivers. Paula Spencer Scott reports in a recent Parade magazine article that they hope to draw attention to the burden of responsibility that family members now face–often without help–in taking care of their loved ones with memory loss.

Taking care of a spouse, parent, or sibling with dementia can be overwhelming, exhausting, and isolating. But there is help.

Technology

  • Clocks that are easy to read and provide year, month, date, and time are one helpful device. These clocks may help to alleviate some people’s anxiety since those in early stages of dementia often lose their sense of time. (See this article for a more details: https://www.alzheimers.net/9-10-14-clocks-for-dementia/).
  • Appliance use monitors can really provide caregivers with peace of mind. If your loved one is still able to home alone for periods of time, you can still be assured that he or she is safe by using devices such as Evermind monitors that track your loved one’s use of their electrical appliances. “A small, white Evermind box plugs into a wall outlet or power strip, with the appliance plugged into the box. Using built-in wireless Internet, Evermind alerts you if the appliances your loved one normally uses each day have not been turned on or off. Compatible appliances include microwave ovens, coffee makers, TVs, lamps, curling irons, CPAP machines, garage door openers and more. No home Internet connection is required” (Caregivers.com).
  • Tracking devices can be used to make sure your loved one is not wandering or leaving the house or yard. Alzheimers.net has a list of some of the most popular and useful of these GPS tracking devices.
  • Motion sensors can also be helpful. Pads for beds and monitors can alert caregivers if their loved one gets out of bed in the night.

Community

Caregivers are not alone on their caregiving journey. Others are available and willing to help.

  • If you are comfortable on Facebook, you can find at least 11 groups of caregivers who can provide you with a sense of community. You will find others who are going through what you are experiencing, or perhaps you can share your experiences with others who need your help.
  • Veterans and families of veterans have a couple of caregiver groups to help. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation has created a website and caregiver network (also on Facebook) for veterans who are caregivers or for caregivers of veterans. See the Hidden Heroes website for more information and to connect with others.
  • A local caregivers support group meets every Friday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in River Falls.

Celebrate July 4th with us–on the 2nd!

We are ready to celebrate America’s birthday on Tuesday, July 2nd at 1:30 at the First Congregational Church in River Falls. How about joining us in singing good old patriotic songs, sharing ice cream, and having fun? Everyone of all ages is invited. Bring your friends, your grandchildren, your neighbors. It will be a great way to kick off the holidays.

See you on Tuesday at 1:30!

Spring and Summer

It has been a busy time for us at Among Friends. But it is the good kind of busy–busy with activities, with social interactions, with music and art, with children, and with enjoying every moment.

At Easter, the children of a local family who regularly visits Among Friends and our participants colored Easter eggs. It was fun for everybody.

In May, we celebrated the Kentucky Derby with our own River Falls version of Derby Day. In anticipation, we decorated hats. What would the Derby be without extravagant hats? But in our race, everyone was a winner.

Summer means that it is time for growing things. So, with the help of a grant from Allina, we are growing an herb garden. We have planted the seeds, are watching them grow, and are beginning to harvest some of them to create nutritional snacks and meals.

Our caterer, Kathy Kapaun, demonstrated using fresh herbs in four different recipes for our lunch last week. She did a great job in making it a visual, oral and olfactory experience!

We are finding time also to take some walks around the neighborhood and to enjoy the summer sunshine. All in all, it has been a great spring and summer–and we have lots of good activities yet to come in the weeks to follow.

The Big Day Is Coming for SCV Give Big

April 30th is Big Give for St. Croix Valley, an community initiative spotlighting nonprofits in our area to which you can give.  We are hoping that Among Friends will be one of them to which you can give.

We have added a new button to our menu that allows you to donate directly to Among Friends.  We have joined St. Croix Valley’s fundraising initiative, “Big Give.” By using the link attached to the “Donate” button above, you can donate to our program.  If you would rather simply mail us a donation, you can easily do so to the address below.  Either way, Among Friends is very appreciative of your support.

Among Friends, 110 North Third St., River Falls, WI 54022