Brenner Pathways - Tom and Karen Brenner

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About Tom and Karen Brenner

Tom Brenner holds an MA in Gerontology and has been working as a trainer, writer and consultant in the field of aging for many years. Tom is a trainer and researcher for the State of Illinois, Department on Aging. He also trains caregivers and case managers in the Illinois Community Care Project. Karen Brenner has worked in the field of education for 30 years as a teacher and administrator. She co-founded Montessori schools in the Chicago area, one of which specializes in the education of children who are deaf or communication disordered. Tom and Karen are authors of the book "You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello: The Montessori Method for Positive Dementia Care". Where they help people living with dementia, their families and caregivers navigate this challenging condition using techniques first developed by Maria Montessori.

A Gift for All Seasons

In this time of giving, we are reminded of all of the wonderful gifts that people living with dementia have given to us. Once we took the time to get to know these elders, we found that they had wonderful … Continue reading

Over the River and Through the Woods

I stood watching as she dropped spoonfuls of dumpling dough into the boiling water. “Gosh, you make that look so easy!” My 22 year old self was honestly impressed with the elderly woman’s skill in the kitchen. Grandma Schadi, my … Continue reading

In the Age of Bountiful

When you are paying attention, you can really learn a lot. But you have to be willing to really look, to really listen and to really, really pay attention. We are so easily distracted these days, living in the information … Continue reading

The Up Side of Down

Things are really bad: really, really, really bad. That is the steady drum beat of depressing news; wars and rumors of wars, lay-offs, foreclosure, the shrinking, never-to-return middle class. For people who are caregivers in the midst of all of … Continue reading

Look Up! Mindful Dementia Care

We don’t often enjoy perfect weather in Chicago; it tends to be freezing, howling cold or muggy, stupefying heat. This was a perfect summer day; cool, with the clouds chasing the sun and a light breeze off the lake. The … Continue reading

Three Ways to Talk to People Living with Alzheimer’s

For people living with Alzheimer’s it is often difficult, if not impossible, to begin a conversation or engage with another person. When we try to talk with a person who has memory loss, we are often greeted with the thousand … Continue reading

Lift Every Voice

When we first met Jeannie, she was absolutely furious that her son had “dumped” her in the memory enhancement center. She had been having trouble with falling at home and had been found more than once wandering in her neighborhood … Continue reading

Love in the Time of Dementia

When we first met him, he had been living in the locked dementia ward for almost a year. The staff told us that his transition into living in this intentional community had been rough. He had been a farmer all … Continue reading

The Preacher’s Wife and the Baker’s Wife

They sat across from us, giggling, the preacher’s wife and the baker’s wife. They were telling us stories from their lives; snapshots, moments from earlier days. This reminiscence session came about as we were working with a series of small … Continue reading

Words and Music

The famous composer, Richard Rogers, often said that it drove him nuts when people would ask him the ubiquitous question: “Mr. Rogers, what comes first, the music or the words?” Richard Rogers knew (better than most) that the words and … Continue reading

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