Sponsored by the St. Johns County Council on Aging (COA), Integrative Memory Enhancement classes are held four times a week at the new Ponte Vedra Memory Care Center, with a Tuesday-Thursday program and a Monday-Wednesday program. Facilitator Joy Urban, who has been involved in the program for more than four years, provides activities, fellowship and encouragement to several students on Tuesday and Thursday each week, but notes that there is room for more. Classes, at a cost of $10 per hour, are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with beverages, snacks and lunch provided. Activities include breathing exercises, guided relaxation, chair aerobics, humor therapy, “Brain Gym,” aromatherapy, and more.
The program is designed for individuals who have been diagnosed with memory disorders or who are simply concerned about memory changes. Retired chemical engineer Bernie Oechsli, 86, of Ponte Vedra Beach, considers his Monday-Wednesday Memory Enhancement classes to be a highlight of his week. “I don’t think heaven could be much better than this,” joked Oeschsli, as volunteer Shirley Lane poured him a glass of water and the tempting aroma of a delicious lunch (catered by nearby Vicar’s Landing) wafted through the air.
“Coming together as a group, sharing a meal, and engaging in stimulating conversation ... all of these factors contribute to maintaining your cognitive skills,” said Kathy Cinney, Program Assistant Manager for the COA’s Integrative Memory Enhancement classes. “These classes are about so much more than memory. For some of the attendees, the interaction and socialization provide a reason to stay in the game.”
The positive, supportive atmosphere provided by both facilitators and volunteers at the Ponte Vedra Memory Care Center is enjoyable and effective. As research-based word games and breathing exercises are used to stem early memory loss, mental and physical agility are often stimulated as well.
“The memory classes are a terrific boost for my creativity,” said Scott McLucas of Ponte Vedra, who attends on Tuesday and Thursday. “The facilitators are excellent and the exercises, both mental and physical, have definitely made a positive difference in my life.”
Until 2014, McLucas, 86, was actively involved in One World Foundation, Inc., which he founded nearly four decades ago to globally support education and the arts. “Since my wife, Nancy, and I closed the foundation and became private philanthropists, my time has been less structured,” McLucas noted. “The classes have put me back on track. I’m better organized and my memory has improved. I would encourage everyone to try this. It works!”
COA’s Integrative Memory Enhancement Program is offered in several locations throughout St. John’s County. For more information call Michele Sanchez, Program Manager at (904) 729-9535 or Kathy Cinney at (904) 729-9163.
On April 1, 2016, at 1:30 p.m., COA’s Sunshine Golf Tournament will take place at St. Johns Golf and Country Club. To register for the tournament, or for sponsorship opportunities, contact Linda Trevlyn at COA at (904) 209-3684.
The tournament will benefit the COA Sunshine Center (an adult day care facility in St. Augustine), the Memory Care Programs, and the new Adult Day Care program at the Ponte Vedra Memory Care Center that will open on March 21st with Monday through Friday hours from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For information on Adult Day Care, call Paulette Kozlowski at (904) 209-3674.