Thrust on us in our advancing age is the world’s continuous youthful messaging. Author Joyce Rupp in her book, “Prayers to Sophia: Deepening our Relationship with Holy Wisdom” speaks to all of us that support the frail elderly in her poem…
Befriending My Aging
Companion of Life, Guardian of Death, more and more I resemble an old gnarled tree, wrinkled bark, gray boughs, thinning leaves. The ground around my roots is weakening. My limbs bend and no longer stretch very far.
Grant me the ability to not be afraid, even in the face of significant physical change. Be a source of deepening hope during my internal and external adjustment. Keep me trusting in the deepest part of myself where love and vitality are stored.
Teach me about true and everlasting beauty, to compassionate my body in its growing frailty, to love my mind and heart even as my life wanes, to befriend the wrinkles and accept the grayness, to be unthreatened by the depletion of my energy and the waning of a memory that was once keenly alert,
Ancient one, fill my heart with joy in the little gifts of life. Let me find sources of comfort and serenity in the midst of my aches and loss. Be near, ever-vigilant Beloved, as I experience the creaks and groans of my aging process. Show me how to embrace this transition time as my soul ripens for its final journey home


IMG_2659The roots of St. Monica’s Senior Living and Memory Care go deep into the ground.  The trees on this previous parceled farm land, located on North Green Bay Road, have endured and witnessed many changes throughout the years. This perseverance is mirrored by the Sisters of St. Rita who founded St. Monica’s on this property in 1971. They were supported and encouraged by many men and women of Racine who shared their vision for a loving home for seniors. Like the beautiful trees on the 42 acre site, St. Monica’s has thrived and grown over the past forty-six years of dedication and service.

This past year has been an exciting one for St. Monica’s as they near completion of renovations to their kitchen, front office area and expansion of their chapel.  In addition, they are adding a 26-bed Memory Care Wing, to be operational by October 2017.  To accommodate this new building three trees had to be taken down, a huge Burr Oak, a Hickory, and an Ash. Administrator Loretta Baxter, Chair of Long Range Planning Ray Johnson and Pastoral Director Sr. Angelica were devastated when they were told all 3 had to be removed. However, after discussing their removal with Dave Callewaert “the Wood Man” they fashioned a plan to repurpose all three trees and use them as part of the remodeling and expansion of the chapel.

“We treasure the beauty of our surroundings, its history and heritage. That is why we have saved, preserved, and re-purposed some of the spectacular trees which surround St. Monica’s.” said Sr. Angelica.  One huge oak tree by the Rosary Walk, was approximately 230 years old. This magnificent tree has been designated for a portion of the chapel flooring.  Another tree, a hickory over 100 years old, has been designed as a memory wall. The ash tree is refashioned into the new altar, pulpit, floral stands, tabernacle table, and Eucharist credence table for St. Monica’s chapel.  The work is being designed, crafted and completed by John Jacyna using the equipment and facilities of Jerry Isaacson (Cabinets by Ike).

“The roots of St. Monica’s go deep in our community, therefore it’s only natural our venerable trees be incorporated in our remodeling.  They symbolize the steadfast continuity and growth of St. Monica’s for generations to come. Love and care go deep into our history. Hearts touching hearts is one of our guiding philosophies in the care we provide to all at St. Monica’s Senior Living and Memory Care.”  shared Loretta Baxter


Caring for those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Dementia BlogAlzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. with more than 5 million Americans living with the disease. 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another Dementia.

With these staggering numbers St. Monica’s has stepped forward to help educate families who often are in the position to be alerted to the problem and then also be in a care taking role.

We are offering classes for anyone who wants to learn more about dementia or Alzheimer’s. It might be someone who is spending more time checking on mom or dad or a spouse or loved ones who are deeply entrenched in a caretaking role. The classes are August 6th or November 5th. The cost is free and it is offered at St. Monica’s from 10:00 – 11:30 am.

Another type of classes we are offering are for professional Certified Nursing Assistants, LPNs, RNs, and Social Workers –healthcare professionals who would like to learn “Positive Approaches” that work in caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s and/or Dementia. They will receive Continuing Education credit for it. These classes cost $25 to cover the materials are offered from 10:00 to 11:30 on May 26th, September 8th and November 3rd.

The classes are taught by Certified Dementia Trainers who have gone through online and in person seminar classes and testing and have successfully presented before peer review certified presenters. The trainers have experience working in the healthcare field with individuals who have Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

One of the areas we describe in detail in the training is the difference between “what is normal aging” and “not normal aging”.   Briefly, it is normal aging to “not be able to recall a word” or “taking time to remember someone’s name”.   Often just giving those of us who are older a little more time will solve that issue; however, there are many symptoms that go along with “not normal aging”. One that we all are quite aware of is “not knowing how you got somewhere and not being able to find your way home”. Which is where the “Silver Alerts come into play for senior adults who are missing. There are many more symptoms that we discuss in the class.

One of the main precepts of our philosophy is focusing on the “positive” and what people have left versus what they have lost. It is easy to talk about Alice has lost her short term memory and she repeats herself all the time versus her positive attributes. Alice still has that positive attitude and loves to help people and let’s talk about those days when she worked as a nurse or how much she enjoyed being a mom to her 4 children.

The other aspect that we spend time on is the physical changes to the brain. The brain actually loses 1/3 of its mass during this devastating disease. Understanding what the various parts of the brain do and how this disease affects individuals is a key part in deepening our understanding which is crucial for us to maintain our compassion. For example, one of the first changes is loss of brain mass in the parietal lobe or the front of the brain. This is where our frontal lobe is located and where we make decisions and judgements. This is why we might say, “Oh, Alice has lost her filter”.   Before she would not have said, “you know Loretta, that dress really makes you look fat”, or she might start swearing when you never heard her swear before in your life”.

Again understanding how the brain works and the impact of this disease on the brain helps our understanding and this leads to greater compassion and patience.

If you have any questions, you can contact Dana Petit to sign up for the classes at St. Monica’s at 262-639-5050 or visit our home page for registration and more information.

The Importance of Health Screenings

“I don’t know that I would have gone to the physician’s office because it seemed like such a small skin change” commented, Deb who works as an RN at St. Monica’s. She participated in a Skin Cancer screening by Dermatology Associates at St. Monica’s Health Fair and Open House in 2013. While participating in the Skin Cancer screening, a small 1/8” pearly bump was found on her nose and she went to see Dr. Lynott. He did a biopsy and diagnosed her with basal cell carcinoma. She ended up having a Mohs’ procedure where the cancerous skin cells are removed in layers and examined under a microscope during the procedure so that the greatest amount of healthy tissue is preserved. Deb ended up having a complete recovery.

This is just one example of the types of health screenings held at St. Monica’s Health Fair and Open House. Others are Avada Hearing screening, Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar screenings. It is a way to find out more about your health without spending a lot of money. You can also learn more information not only about your health but resources available in the community.

Many times individuals are overwhelmed about making the decision to seek help for an elderly parent or friend. This is a perfect opportunity to find out what is available in the community. Some of the services that will be present to talk about what they do are home care organizations such as Gentiva Home Care, People Care, Bright Star and Society’s Assets. Then there will be Independent Living apartment options presented through Parkview Gardens. Another type of care is Alzheimer’s Care which will be represented by Azura and Hospice care will be represented by Hospice Alliance and Allay Hospice.

This does not take into account other service organizations such transport through companies like Paratech Ambulance Service and Caledonia Fire Department. Other community resources available will be Safe Assured ID which will demonstrate the latest technology so that law enforcement personnel can quickly access information they need to find wandering seniors.

You will be amazed at the resources available in our area for seniors. It is just taking the time to stop in and start learning. St. Monica’s Health Fair and Open House will be April 20th from 9 am to 1 pm.

Special relationships with our Grandparents

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go… how well I remember that song. What a great time it was to go to Gramma’s house. The delicious smells coming through the cracks around her doors and windows welcomed us as we knew a cookie and hug waited for us when we crossed her threshold. Snuggling on her lap, or our great Aunt’s lap, was wonderful. We were all safe and warm and it was very nice being held in arms that offered only love. What a special love there is between grandparents and grandchildren.
Gone are the worries that plague most parents, worries of bills and not enough time in the day to get everything done. No more worries of whether the kids are being raised right to keep us awake at night. No more fretting about schooling, dances, sports, chipped teeth, glasses, and broken bones. All these cares somehow melt away when we turn into grandparents. We get to hold this miracle. We have proof that our lives, our spirits and family traits will continue through these babes, and we pour all our love and attention on them. We get to spoil them, knowing gleefully, that we get to hand them back to their parents. We don’t have to deal with the tantrums, upset stomachs, crying… Not really nice, but hey, we’ve paid our dues, right?
We have the time to give our undivided attention to them and our activities are usually fun to do, not chore related. Why wouldn’t they love to come and visit us? We have the time to play games, watch tv, go for a walk, explore the river, watch a sunset, bake cookies, build a boat… We know that there’ll be a time when we can’t do these things. It is at this time that our grandchildren come to visit us and remind us of all the good times we shared. This is what we witness day in and day out at St. Monica’s. The inter-generational love and caring. It is such a joy and blessing that our residents have allowed us to become part of their family. We share in their joys and sorrows, birthdays, anniversaries, sports awards and special events. Our residents are the heart of our home. On behalf of them and the staff of St. Monica’s we wish all a blessed and joyous holiday season.