May 14, 2021 —You may have certain criteria as you search for retirement communities that fit your lifestyle. One of those items could be having plenty of opportunities to continue to learn and engage. Not only would you want these opportunities as part of independent living, but for all levels of care if you should ever need it.
Kim Kohler, the Life Enrichment Coordinator at The Admiral at the Lake, brings a creative approach that can produce meaningful programs and opportunities to residents. A recently Certified Dementia Practitioner, Kim extends those creative ideas and experiences to everyone at The Admiral at the Lake.
Getting to Know Kim
Kim grew up in a suburb just west of Cleveland, Ohio. She began her college career at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, history and speech communication. She eventually made her way to Chicago in 1991 to attend Columbia College, where she received her master’s degree in Dance/Movement Therapy.
Since the age of four, Kim has been performing in a variety of theater and dance productions. Rich with many opportunities to see or take part in the arts, Chicago was an obvious choice for Kim to take root.
“I do love that there’s always something unique and interesting happening in Chicago,” Kim explained. “My favorites, of course, include theater and dance performances. I also enjoy the many summer festivals, art galleries, our lakefront, and the variety of amazing restaurants.”
Before coming to the Admiral, Kim has worked in positions that in one way or another correlated with her love of theater and dance and her belief that all people can benefit from the healing power of the arts.
Those include working in a creative arts therapy department at an inpatient psychiatric hospital, as well as providing dance and movement therapy groups to a variety of populations including adults with developmental delays, youth with special needs, and older adults needing memory support.
Kim has also managed and directed a youth theater company that created original productions based on the writing of youth company members.
The writing was focused on making positive, healthy choices, especially focused on body image, drug and alcohol use, teasing or bullying, and depression and suicide prevention. The ensemble performed across Illinois and country for middle school, high school and adult audiences.
Life Enrichment Coordinator at The Admiral
As a resident of Lincoln Square, Kim noticed The Admiral at the Lake building construction. Curiosity struck her and she decided to learn more about this new building.
“I read about Kendal and their mission and values, and liked that it seemed to align with mine. I have always worked with older adults in some way,” she explained. “Most of my work life has been creating something from nothing, so helping open up The Harbors side of The Admiral was enticing.”
As the Life Enrichment Coordinator at The Admiral, Kim is very involved in creating new opportunities and programs for residents.
“I scout and book edu-tainment for our residents – including a variety of concerts, lectures and classes,” she said.
Kim is the staff liaison for the resident Program Committee, Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Harbor Mates. Harbor Mates are independent living residents who provide volunteer services to other residents. They lead a two men’s groups, a women’s group, weekly bingo and Wii bowling. In addition, they deliver the mail every day to Harbors residents, provide friendly visits and transportation from events, and more.
“I feel very fortunate to have an amazing Life Enrichment team. They are creative, caring and invested in the life of the residents,” Kim said. “They have high standards and ethics and treat every resident like they would a family member.”
Dementia Practitioner Certification
Another perk of having Kim on The Admiral team is she recently received her Dementia Practitioner Certification.
“I’ve been working with people with memory loss for 25-plus years. I’ve taken a lot of workshops, seminars and continuing education throughout the years. But there hasn’t been a formal certification until recently,,” she explained.
Since certification is relatively new, Kim did her research and found that the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners was the most recognized and comprehensive.
“I believe it’s important to continue to learn and grow within this field, as the research, information and good practices are always changing and evolving,” she said.
To be certified, Kim attended a full-day training in addition to some other requirements. She hopes to receive trainer certification next year so she can teach the course to staff and others who work with people with dementia.
In addition to the Dementia Practitioners Certification, Kim has also recently received a Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional certification through the International Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners.
“I love this philosophy and believe the Montessori method is a truly loving, engaging and person-centered approach to caring for people with dementia,” said Kim. ”This is a real-life, person-centered approach to dementia care.
“Montessori is meaningful because it’s based on our everyday life experiences. There is common space to connect. So, the benefits impact not only the residents, but staff, family and guests as well.”
Creating Friendships and Meaningful Experiences
Kim enjoys the unpredictability of her job and that every day is a new adventure.
“I love that the residents are so involved in what happens here because it is their community and their voices, from all levels of care, are vital to creating meaningful experiences,” she said.
“The residents and family members are some of the most interesting, generous and thoughtful folks I have ever worked with – most are here because they want an active retirement so want to be involved in the daily life of The Admiral. They really care about each other and the staff, and you see it every day in small moments and large gestures,” she added.
The Admiral’s Resident-Driven Lifestyle
At The Admiral, our residents take charge in planning programming, activities, and more. That means they get to decide the day’s schedule, not an activities coordinator.
Learn more about our resident-driven lifestyle and get a small sampling of some of the groups you could join (and if you don’t see what you like, you can create your own!).
What is a resident-driven lifestyle?
Find out more about it and discover The Admiral’s groups and committees.