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.

Never Give Up on Anyone!

We have learned over the years to look for the strengths and spared abilities in people living with Alzheimer’s. One of the abilities that we count as a great strength is the ability to read. Many people living with Alzheimer’s … Continue reading

Priming the Pump of Memory

There are ways to help prime the pump of memory using techniques that we have pioneered to help people find new ways to be successful. One of the most effective techniques we use to prime the pump of memory is … Continue reading

But Who Knows Where or When?

Did you know that there are different memory systems at work in our brains?  One of those systems is the declarative memory system. This is the memory system that affects short term memory, language, facts, recent episodes and executive function … Continue reading

The Alzheimer’s Whisperer

When I first met him, he was a young man with only two speeds; flat out or sound asleep. He has known only hard work his entire life.  He has been a drummer, a machinist, a medic and is now … Continue reading

Completing the Circle: The Montessori Method for Alzheimer’s Care

He first stacked the pink tower cubes from the largest to the smallest, very slowly and carefully placing the smallest cube right in the center on top. He leaned back and smiled at this accomplishment. Then the pink tower was … Continue reading

Make a Joyful Noise!

We experience some amazing things in this dementia work. One of the very best experiences is when we incorporate music into our work. People who may never speak, or have trouble finding common words can still often sing and remember … Continue reading

With a Little Help from My Friends

Betty was filling the watercolor paper with multi-colored dots. Dots of blue and green and yellow and pink were raining down everywhere on the paper. Suddenly, Betty stopped and looked questioningly at the aide sitting next to her. “Is this … Continue reading

Little People, Little Miracles

There is a kind of magic that happens when we bring young children and elders together. These two generations seem to understand each other. This is not to say that older people are child like, rather it is that both … Continue reading

Jewels of Time

Working with people who have memory loss, we try to create meaningful moments, fleeting times of connection in order to stay in relationship with the person who is living with Alzheimer’s. We know that our work cannot bring the person … Continue reading

The Magical Mystery Tour

Someone you love has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. You may feel that this is the end of life as you know it. You are probably awash in the ocean of negativity that is out there when people speak of … Continue reading

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