Caregiving and Living in the Moment
Welcome to CALM. This program is completely for you and designed as a complement to any support groups, education and counseling you are receiving. The focus of CALM is on your experience and wellbeing as a caregiver and includes practices, discussion and inquiry into stress resilience, restoration, relaxation and wellness strategies to enhance your confidence and wellbeing over time. In many cases, this means years of commitment and growth. As a caregiver, you, navigating the many seasons and changes you will experience individually and as a family, couple or partnership, you deserve to be well. Too frequently, a caregiver’s wellbeing is measured by the health and happiness of the person in their care.
Overtime, a caregiver’s needs and health can diminish behind the needs of the person with dementia. When strong wellness habits are not in place as a practice, caregivers suffer. When caregivers are not well, the entire family suffers. A caregivers dis-ease can be a shadow disease to a diagnosis of dementia in a family, couple or partnership.
Supporting you and your wellbeing as care partners is the purpose of our continuous programming. In CALM, we are passionate about the health & wellbeing of dementia family caregivers and about your experience alongside partners & parents which impacts your own stability, happiness and health.
Our hope is to normalize and help facilitate what real, imperfect, yet sustainable pathways for your wellbeing can look like through the many years you navigate the challenges of dementia and beyond.
Each CALM session is different and explores a new facet of your wellbeing, though each is interconnected. The focus is on you and while not always about the person(s) you are caring for/care-partnering, the learnings and exploration will directly support you both.
Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW
Laura is the facilitator and creator of the CALM online curriculum.
- About LauraLaura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW, is the Managing Director of the Wellness Initiative for the University of Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center (MADC) where she designs, implements and evaluates well-being and mindfulness-based programming. Laura holds advanced professional certifications in aging, dementia and contemplative clinical care. She began her career at U-M as the first director of the Silver Club Day Programs. After launching the Silver Club, Laura spent a few years (2000-2004) working in California and starting the area’s first Memory Club programs, serving as the Early Stage Program Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association in Los Angeles.
As a long-time meditator, she began teaching mindfulness meditation in 2010 and has extensive professional training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Dementia Care (MBDC). She is a national and state presenter on memory loss and caregiver well-being. She is committed to co-creating and sharing contemplative programs assisting care partners, adults living with memory loss and community members in their desire to live meaningful, connected and healthy lives. Laura is a founding member of the Ann Arbor Center for Mindfulness and serves as CEO for the Presence Care Project where she trains facilitators in MBDC.
Laura is an Anthony V. DeVito II Memorial Award recipient. The award is presented annually by the U-M Geriatrics Center to recognize outstanding service, dedication and commitment to excellence in geriatrics education in Michigan.
In addition to the wellness programs she leads, Laura invites guest facilitators and colleagues who are experts in their field, from dementia and health care professionals, to leaders in expressive arts and mind-body wellness. Participants are welcome to participate monthly or as it works for their schedule.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have and also make referrals and recommendations for additional programs, support groups and supportive services for you and your family available throughout the University of Michigan and in the community. Our MADC website is also yours to explore as well. Scroll to the Wellness Initiative to learn more about all the wellness programs here.
CALM Program Purpose & History
- Purpose of CALMCALM Connections is the only continuous, wellbeing-focused training program for family caregivers in Michigan. CALM is inspired by the Catching Your Breath (CYB) program created by Laura Rice-Oeschger for dementia family caregivers, which continues at the MADC. Laura has adapted the CYB curriculum, drawing on eight years of CYB programming and twenty-five years as a clinical social worker working in dementia care, to be available in an accessible, free and self-guided format. CALM Connections Online program reflects a thriving and connected community of dementia family caregivers.
The opportunity to implement CALM sessions online was made possible through a 2020 collaborative planning project, The Caregiver Resource Collaborative (CRC), with support from The Health Fund via The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. At a time when the nation was plunged into a pandemic, the necessity for access to caregiving resources and learning online became paramount. CALM Connections online programming includes in-person and virtual sessions to enhance caregiver wellbeing, confidence, self-management, healing and growth over time. In addition to regular content, CALM sessions are a connector, providing continuity, practice and connection before, between and after the completion of other valuable programs and training for family caregivers around the state.
While the CYB and CALM content indicates a broader appeal to other caregiver populations, the program is designed specifically for dementia family caregiving.
- History of CALMThe opportunity to design CALM, as a continuous collection of wellbeing sessions, was initially made possible through a grant provided by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund for THRIVE. THRIVE, which stands for Tailoring Healthy Resources for In-Person and Virtual Education, was a pilot program working to support a formalized network between agencies serving family caregivers in Michigan. This network began in the winter of 2018 as a focused effort in Southeastern Michigan between The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. More specifically, this effort is focused between the MADC, MSU Extension Services, MSU College of Human Medicine and the WSU Institute of Gerontology. CALM Connections (in person) was the cornerstone program of the THRIVE Network pilot housed at the MADC, making it possible to weave together key partners and organizations around the state to create a seamless stream of offerings throughout the entire care journey.
The continued development of CALM was made possible through The Caregiver Resource Collaborative (CRC), which is a partnership comprised of agencies experienced in issues of aging and chronic disease who are coming together in an innovative alliance designed to improve access to resources, information and assistance for Michigan residents who are family caregivers for older adults living with dementia or other chronic or disabling conditions. The CRC is made up of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHSS), MADC, Michigan State University Extension Services (MSUE) and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (MSUCHM). The CRC will develop a two-year blueprint for the implementation of a sustainable network of caregiving resources, to be disseminated through state Area Agencies on Aging and the expanded online THRIVE network. This initiative will address the pressing need for coordinated information about resources and services available to Michigan’s unpaid family caregivers.
Care Partner Encouragements
Take a look at the PDF below about 10 life-changing lessons Laura has learned from family care partners.