Foundation’s Special 36-hour Online Campaign Launches April 14

The Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation’s Greatest Needs Fund ensures Ovation Communities is able to sustain its mission of providing a safe, secure and beautiful Jewish home for Wisconsin’s elders. First established in 1986, the foundation continues to support basic care and services for Ovation’s residents. This includes providing care for everyone who needs it, regardless of their financial situation.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, expenses directly related to resident care have risen astronomically, equating approximately to an additional $200,000 per month. Increased costs are due to many operational changes and challenges. Some of these changes and challenges include providing personal protective equipment, regular testing, additional protocols, staffing adjustments, and increased technology needs.

“Now more than ever before, we have a responsibility to make sure our Jewish seniors are cared for with dignity and respect, and loving hands,” said Tanya Mazor-Posner, Vice President of Development for the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation. “Because of the sustained generosity of our donors, we’re able to rise to the challenge and continue to provide the best care possible for those who need it most now, and in the future.”

On April 14 the Foundation will launch a special 36-hour online campaign to support the Greatest Needs Fund. Follow Ovation’s e-newsletter and social media channels for additional details.

 

  • February 25, 2021

Ovation Jewish Home Resident Neil Rossine Continues to Pursue Lifelong Passions Through Art

When he was younger, Neil Rossine liked going up north, spending time in nature, raising animals for their pelts, fishing, listening to rock music and spending time with friends. Today as a resident of Ovation Jewish Home, he is enjoying expressing his passion for these same things, through artwork.

With no previous experience, Neil first tried his hand making art through Ovation’s Memories in the Making art program, a national program sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association that encourages participants to celebrate their life stories through art. Through the program, Neil discovered new skills he didn’t know he had, including drawing and watercolor painting. His life passions – nature, animals, people and rock music – began appearing as subject matter in his work.

Neil likes the artmaking process. He says it relaxes him and helps him take a fresh look at things he might otherwise have taken for granted. Art has been especially important to Neil throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and he has been creating work on a nearly daily basis. While he may not be able to travel and move around the building and the community like he used to, he has focused on the ability to travel inward through his imagination.

Due to a serious car accident many years ago, and the loss of the use of his dominant right hand, Neil had to learn to draw and paint with his non-dominant left hand. Some studies show that using the non-dominant hand helps people access the right side of the brain where creativity and imagination reside. Neil has found this to be true.

Well known and loved at the Jewish Home as an active, friendly, “happy-go-lucky” guy, Neil doesn’t let much get him down, despite the challenges life dealt him. When he’s not making art, he volunteers to water the plants or deliver newspapers and mail to his fellow residents. Neil also enjoys many of Ovation’s other activities, including bingo, the men’s club, poker games, movies, the music program, and Writer’s Workshop.

When asked to sum up in one word how Neil feels about life and his artwork, he says, “Fantastic!”

Footnote: When pandemic protocols ease, Neil Rossine’s artwork will be on display in Ovation Jewish Home.

  • February 25, 2021

New Video Series Focuses on Educational Resources for Community

Last August, Ovation Communities launched a new video series called Partners in Ovation. The series gives residents, their families, and community members an in depth look at the many facets of senior living. Hosted by Tricia Cohn, Ovation Chai Point Executive Director, the bi-monthly videos can be seen on Ovation’s social media channels.

“Ovation is part of an extensive network of individuals and organizations in the greater Milwaukee area dedicated to improving the lives of older adults,” Cohn said. “Through Partners in Ovation, we’re hoping to tap into this wealth of knowledge and share it more broadly with the community.”

Through seven episodes, the series has taken a look at researching senior living options, financial planning tips, elder fraud prevention, preparing for a move to senior living, and the advancements in technology used during COVID-19. In addition to featuring outside experts, Partners in Ovation highlights members of the Ovation Communities team as a way to give viewers an inside look at the organization’s many areas of expertise.

“There are a lot of resources and services available through Ovation Communities and our partner network that many people aren’t aware of,” said Cohn. “As an organization we’re doing many things that are really groundbreaking, and I hope people check out the new series to perhaps learn something new that can help them on their journey.

“Ovation has built a stellar reputation in the community after decades of serving people,” Cohn continued. “This wouldn’t be possible without the resources of our extensive partner network that enable us to provide the best care.”

At about 10 minutes in length, Cohn’s warm personality keeps the video series engaging and informative. Upcoming topics include dispelling hospice myths, exploring Ovation’s partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and resident stories.

  • February 25, 2021

Resiliency and Spirituality During the Pandemic: A Letter From Rabbi Adams

Life is filled with surprises and I have long believed that one’s ability to adapt is key to survival. That being said, no one could have anticipated the surprise of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it has forced us to face.

This pandemic has been particularly challenging to the residents for many reasons. Their lives and routines have been turned upside down. Visitors from the outside were shut out, including family, friends and those who brought in such great programs. Interactions with other residents are limited at times and wearing a mask outside their residences is required.

One resident made the following poignant observation when she said, “Rabbi, I loved the world before COVID and I fear it will never return. I feel especially sad for the young people who will never experience that wonderful world.”

At first, many of us felt that our older adults were well equipped to deal with the challenge. After all, many lived through the Great Depression, World War II, survived the Holocaust or were refugees from other oppressive societies. It quickly became clear that this pandemic, with its uncertainty, scope, isolation and long duration, is unlike anything they had seen before.

In spite of all that, the residents have not only survived, they have found ways to thrive. Their response has been inspiring to many of us on the staff. The two tools they have used are 1) taking control of the situation as much as possible and 2) using a sense of humor. In the process, they have created a climate that has encouraged people to be more caring and thoughtful toward each other. Taking control has meant finding ways to create their own entertainment, activities and opportunities to be together safely. Their sense of humor has helped soften the blow of so many disappointments this year. It has also allowed them to realize, as one resident said to me, “There is no better place for us to be than here during a pandemic like this.”

The residents’ positive and wise response to the situation has inspired the staff and provided us with the ability to be similarly positive and hopeful. Working together, we have made each other stronger.

Rabbi Steven Adams

Director of Pastoral Care

  • February 25, 2021

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

I have to admit that I started my celebration a bit early, but I couldn’t help myself. My husband, Adam made a batch of hamentaschen cookies, and I have been “helping out” by eating all the cookies with imperfections. You know, I always try to do my part! To be honest, however, I am a little irked because I believe poppy seed hamentaschen are the ONLY true holiday cookie option, and sadly, we only have fruit filling. (Cue the “awwwww” here.) Yes, we are a deprived bunch. But, now you know the true depth of my giving nature. I will even eat the cookie rejects…. and not one poppy seed hamentaschen in the bunch!  Of course, I can’t button my pants anymore… but, since I am not leaving my house anytime soon, I figure that’s okay too.

What holiday is all this cookie eating for?  Well, the joyous holiday of Purim!  Held on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, this happy holiday commemorates the day Esther, Queen of Persia, and her cousin Mordechai saved the Jewish people from execution from Haman, the advisor to the Persian King (King Ahashverosh). This year, Purim begins on the evening of February 25 and ends on the evening of February 26. This dramatic tale also has deep underlying meaning, lessons and intrigue- all wrapped up with a wonderful message of Jewish survival… and of course, my poppy seed hamentaschen.  Click here to read the entire story: https://www.learnreligions.com/story-of-purim-2076451

Today we will explore Purim’s fantastic celebrations, examine the hidden elements and how they are revealed, and learn how things are often “turned upside down” with this special holiday. There is much to share, so let’s get started!

 

“Happy Purim!”

“Chag Purim Sameach!” (Hebrew)

A “Freilechen Purim!” (Yiddish)

 

Purim- A Fun and Meaningful Holiday For Many Reasons-

  1. Important Customs-
    • Listen to the Megillah Reading (or The Book of Esther)-  Traditionally, Jews gather in synagogues and communally read the Book of Esther out loud, retelling the story of Purim. This year, due to social distancing, many synagogues are Zooming the festivities. Don’t let the constraints of Covid get in the way of your Purim celebration! Get ready…. this isn’t an ordinary service! Adults and children dress in costume, and have groggers (noise makers) that loudly rattle. Since we abhor evil Hamen, it is customary to boo, hiss, stomp your feet and rattle your grogger loudly to “blot out the name of Hamen.”  The holiday is more informal, rowdy, and a little wild. …Those Jews… what a wacky bunch!  If you are at home, you could even bang on pots and pans during the recitation of Hamen’s name. (However, if you choose this, please don’t tell anyone it was my suggestion. Thank you.)

                   Fun fact:  Did you know that this is one of two books in the bible named for women?

                  Enjoy a Purimspeil:  Many synagogues put on this amusing play or parody called a speil; it is often based on the characters in the Purim story. It is fairly ridiculous, and generally, you will hear a lot of happy groaning in the synagogue. Everyone looks forward to it!

    • Eat a Festive Meal– Make a feast, that is fit for a queen- like Esther, or even yourself! In fact, why not wear a tiara while you enjoy your meal! It’s Purim… everyone’s doing it! Check out Jaime Geller’s Purim inspired challah ideas. This fun, pull-apart challah has a sweet surprise!  Click here: https://jamiegeller.com/holidays/guess-whats-in-these-purim-inspired-challahs/  Then check out her 14 colorful Purim side dishes to add color and fun to your table!   Click here: https://jamiegeller.com/holidays/colorful-purim-sides-for-a-happy-meal/
    • Mishloach Manot (or Shalach Manot)- Traditionally, at this time of year, we send gifts of food to friends and family. They are often presented in baskets or gift bags and contain at least two different types of food including hamantaschen. Mishloach Manot also includes a wide variety of foods, and some Mishloach Manot even have a theme (like Israeli, Mexican or an American theme).  This beautiful mitzvah is a way to show love, friendship and connection. In the age of the pandemic, it is particularly lovely to receive a thoughtful, unexpected gift left at your door. Watch this clip about 12 creative Michloach Manot baskets. Watch to end; it’s hysterical! (PS: Please do not consider the last two options!) https://www.bimbam.com/creative-mishloach-manot/
    • Send Gifts to Those in Need- This is also called Matonot La’evyonim. Although you certainly do not need a holiday to help those in need, this is another beautiful Purim tradition. There are many wonderful organizations to give tzedukah (charity) to. Give to your favorite, or consider supporting The Jewish Community Pantry. The Jewish Community Pantry is an effort co-sponsored by the JCC and the Women’s Philanthropy of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, providing “emergency food to individuals and families in crisis throughout the greater Milwaukee community.” Click here for more information:  https://www.jccmilwaukee.org/programs/community/jewish-community-pantry/

 

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

-Anne Frank

    • Eat Hamentaschen Cookies- Purim has its own special cookie called hamentaschen.  Named after evil Hamen, the King’s advisor that wanted to kill the Jews, this triangular-shaped cookie is symbolic and quite delicious!  The unique shape represents Hamen’s hat or his ears. Traditional cookies are usually shortbread and the center is filled with poppy seeds or sweet fruit (like apricots, figs, prunes, or berry). However, there are more unusual fillings and recipes. I guess, anything counts if it’s a triangular shape! Check out this website for 32 crazy hamentaschen recipes. For example, try caramel apple hamentaschen, white chocolate and cherry hamentaschen, coffee cake hamentaschen, or even French soup hamentaschen! Who knew?? Me…I am sticking to my traditional poppy seed filling. Oh, I love it so. Click here for a little wacky hamentaschen baking: https://www.buzzfeed.com/marcelle/crazy-hamantaschen-flavors-for-purim  However, if you are interested in a more traditional bent, check out Tori Avey’s website. She has tutorials on how to make the perfect hamantaschen, and how to fold the cookie. The folding piece is not my strong suit, but I am sure you will be a pro! Click here:  https://toriavey.com/how-to/how-to-make-perfect-hamantaschen/  Finally, this is the actual recipe that my husband Adam used; a five star buttery hamantaschen recipe also from Tori Avey. (…No, I do not make a commission on her website! This is a happy coincidence.) The dough is rich with a hint of an orange. Super yummy.  Click here: http://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/buttery-hamantaschen/

2. Let’s Remember Queen Esther’s Strength-    Let’s give a big cheer for our heroine, Esther! After all, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her strength and bravery. When Hamen was plotting to kill the Jews, she was willing to speak up and risk her own life to save the Jewish people.  Just as Hamen symbolizes hatred and antisemitism, Esther’s courage, reminds us that we each have great strength inside to help ourselves and to assist others in need. This message is incredibly important today!  When we see wickedness in our world through antisemitism, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or any type of hatred, it is essential we follow Esther’s example. Even in difficult situations, we need to find our inner strength, speak the truth and stand up for justice. Thank you Esther for being a wonderful model for us!

 

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

– Desmond Tutu

3. Looking Beyond the Hidden- Purim is a holiday with many layers. Despite the silliness and zaniness of the holiday, it also has deep meaning. Did you know that G-d’s name is not mentioned in the Megillah even once?! Although G-d is not mentioned, we see his presence as the events unfold and also in how individual’s respond. As we listen to the gantze megillah, or the whole story, we learn how each detail intricately weaves into another. G-d’s name may be hidden, but he is certainly not absent. For a moment, think about your own life and how you see his presence. Is it in the goodness of others, or maybe when you experience an unbelievable coincidence and outcome?  G-d shows himself in daily acts and miracles. Purim reminds to have faith. Even though, at times, G-d may seem hidden, he is always there and waiting to be found.

In a similar way, we may need to look for the hidden essence in our friends/family with cognitive loss. Sometimes, we need to look deeper to unmask elements that are now veiled.  This may take extra patience and love, but it is worth the effort when you see the spark in your loved one. If you feel stuck, I encourage you to try the strategies below. I hope you will see the light emerge.

 

“A blessing is present

only in something

that is hidden from view.”

-Talmud

Below are Ideas and Approaches to Help Uncover the Hidden Beauty in Loved Ones with Memory Loss:

  • Enjoy a Creative Question Worksheet-  Dig a little deeper and get to know someone better with this wonderful, fun exercise. This is an interactive, healthy way to bring out someone’s memories. For a lovely afternoon activity, print out the attached sheet, sip on a delicious cup of hot cocoa or tea, and talk.  Personally, I LOVE creative questions! Besides sharing many smiles, I am often surprised and delighted by the answers I hear. Give it a try, and let me know which questions were your favorites. I would honestly love to hear.
  • Meet Your Loved One “Where They Are At”- Sometimes it’s how you answer a question… For example, in Former Governor Marty Schreiber’s book, My Two Elaines, he shares a story.  After his wife, Elaine asked, “ How old am I?”  He said, “Rather than chiding her for not knowing, or even giving her a straight answer, I asked, “How old do you want to be?” And we had a good laugh.” This is a wonderful example in how to accept your loved one’s reality, meet them “where they are at” and share joy.
  • Focus on Feelings-  When you focus on the emotions, your interaction will feel brighter, and new things will emerge. Not only will your loved one feel supported, but you will both feel connection and love. Author Mara Botonis says, “Look for ways to draw out what the heart remembers, even if the mind forgets. Certain emotions are attached to different memories. Even when your loved one forgets something, they still know the feeling of that recollection. The result is that even if your loved one forgets a conversation they had with you, there is still a benefit. Subconsciously a person with Alzheimer’s/dementia may remember and feel the positive attitude from talking to you even though it is a forgotten experience.”

4. Get into the Purim Spirit-

  • Enjoy the Maccabeats Purim Song– Click here to hear this delightful song of joy and hope! In the song they say, “So raise your glass if you see G-d in hidden places. He’s right in front of you.”  Click here for the 4 minute video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgJInVvJSZg
  • Purim is Pretty Wild in Israel!-  Here is a short, colorful video showing pre-Covid Purim and festivities. This will give you a flavor (1-2 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Do79YEYcwJs

Get ready for the Megillah Reading and Make a Grogger- Click here for an easy grogger idea with cups. https://www.kixcereal.com/kix-cereal-noise-maker-for-purim/

5. Watch a “Museum Moment”-   Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s Education Director, Ellie Gettinger sat down with Hazzan Jeremy Stein from Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid to discuss the upside down holiday of Purim. They explore the traditions around dressing up and the origin of the Spiel- all designed to highlight the sense of making a joke of something serious. Have you ever used humor or silliness to deflect from a serious situation? What was your favorite costume? Click here to watch this Museum Moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I6hZIG0ofw

Wishing you a wonderful Purim! I hope the holiday fills you with joy, positivity and hidden miracles.  In addition, remember to “help your family” with the difficult job of eating the misshapen hamentaschen. Someone has to do it! A word to the wise… make sure you are wearing pants with an elastic waistband.

As always, if you have a question related to aging, memory loss or caregiving, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am here for you, and happy to help. You can find me here: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana

  • February 24, 2021

Rightsizing and Relocating with Seth Wahlberg – Partners in Ovation

This week in Partners in Ovation, Trish Cohn sits down with Seth Wahlberg, Owner of A gift of Time, to discuss how they can help Seniors to Rightsize and Relocate.

 

A Gift of Time has a 20-year history helping Seniors relocate to a community. 7 years ago, Seth was presented with the opportunity to take over the business. With deep family connections to the A Gift of Time already, it seemed like the obvious next step. Married with 2 children, Seth’s days are filled with mission and purpose both personally and professionally.

 

  • February 19, 2021

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

In many ways, this pandemic has challenged and strengthened our relationships. Frequently, due to social distancing and safety, we have had to be physically distant from dear friends and family.  However, even at a distance, the connection with people we love, like dear friends, enables us to remain resilient and healthy. These strong bonds of friendship can nourish our souls, lift us up and provide support.

Did you know that friendship and socialization can also improve physical and emotional health?  A 2008 Harvard School of Public Health study showed that an active social life can slow memory loss.  In fact, strong social connections, even at a distance, help decrease the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, minimize the effects of stress and depression, and even promote heart health. Have you been able to remain in touch with your friends during this difficult time? If you feel a bit out of touch, below are a variety of ways to relink with these important people. Remember, it is never too late to reconnect.

Friends play a significant role in our lives. They can make simchas (joyful occasions) more jubilant and can ease heartache and sorrow. If you have one good friend, you are indeed a rich person. So, today, let’s celebrate the beauty of friendship, and the wonderful ways they enrich our lives. In addition, we will also focus on ways to maintain relationships and stay connected in this socially distant world.

“A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Celebrate the Beauty of Friendship:

1. Be Grateful for the Gift of Friendship-   Before we dive in, I would like you to find a quiet place to reflect. If you can, take in a cleansing breath and close your eyes. Think about someone in your life that has been a friend to you. This might be someone you share a lifetime of experiences with or someone you only met recently. Each friendship is unique. Think about that chosen person, and recall a special memory. Reflect on the amazing bond, and allow this feeling to fill your heart with love and peace. Friendship is a glorious gift. Anytime you need a lift, repeat this simple mindfulness exercise. There is much to be grateful for.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been,  accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
-William Shakespeare

2. Good Friends Can Improve Your Health-  Strong social support can play a significant role in overall health.  “Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.” (Mayoclinic.org)  Interestingly, it is not the number of friends that are important, it is the quality that counts. So, strive for people that will be there for you through the good and the bad.

As Marlene Dietrich said, “It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.”

Friends help us handle stress, make us laugh and help us rebound from difficult situations and health challenges. Close friends can also provide support and needed perspective. There is nothing like a dear friend that reaches out to listen during a lonely or a painful time. The kindness of a friend can be a wonderful benefit. Think about how you can be a friend today. Who needs to hear your voice and feel your love?

“Good friends help you to find important things when you have lost them… your smile, your hope, and your courage.” -Doe Zantamata

3. Thoughtful and Fun Ways to Nurture and Reconnect with Friends:   It is not always easy to maintain friendships. They require care and attention. Show your friends you value them with the ideas below:

  • A Little Effort Goes a Long Way- Let your friends you know you care by staying in touch. Pick up the phone and give a friend a call.  It doesn’t have to be an hour long conversation- just check in and say hello.  In addition, when time is tight, it is okay to email or text.  Everyone likes to be remembered.
  • Make a Date! – Are you having trouble connecting? Plan ahead and put a date on the calendar for a phone call, facetime call or even a virtual coffee date. Personally, one of my favorite things to do is a facetime call with a close friend in the evening. This quiet moment feels warm and intimate- like a (physically distant) slumber party.
  • Plan a Zoom Trivia Night/Game Night-  Share a virtual game/trivia night with friends. I have been playing mah-jongg with a group of girlfriends for 14 years. I cherish this group. During the pandemic, we have continued to play and celebrate birthdays virtually. We have leaned on each other throughout the pandemic.  Here is the website I use to pay mah-jongg (there are also other sites). https://www.myjongg.net/
  • Enjoy a Book Together- A good book is a healthy, welcome distraction!  Discussing a book with a group of like-minded friends is a wonderful way to stay in touch and think critically. A sweet story to share… My Mom is a former teacher at the Milwaukee Jewish Day School, and now participates with other retired teachers in a virtual book club called, “The B+ Book Club.”  Because many of the members do not live in Milwaukee, the virtual club enables them to see each other and connect.  How wonderful!

If book clubs are not for you, then periodically share a book from your personal library with a friend. When you both complete the book, make a virtual date to discuss.

  • Send a Greeting Card or Handwritten Letter- I absolutely love writing and receiving handwritten notes. A heartfelt note takes effort and receiving a special note always feels like a gift. So, pick up your quill pen and do it old school with a stamp! LOL!
  • Be Forgiving- In the past, there may have been misunderstandings, hurt feelings or disagreements. Don’t let these feelings fester; we all make mistakes.  Instead, be open to talking and to forgiving. Life is too short, and friendship is too precious. Be brave and make amends today.

“A true friend is someone who thinks you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” -Bernard Meltzer

  • Join a Support Group-  Support groups have gone virtual! I facilitate multiple virtual groups, and the sessions are meaningful and caring! Not only are they a platform to share the stress and the challenges during the pandemic, but the participation may decrease social isolation. In addition, through this experience, participants have created deep connections and friendships. We all look forward to this special time together. Please let me know if you are interested in joining a Caregiver Support Group. Click here for our website and more information: https://ovation.org/adult-day-services/community-programs-family-support/
  • Use an Article/Picture on the Internet to Spur a Connection- Maybe a special image prompted a happy memory or connection. Share, and reminisce about the beautiful memory. For me, family members are also like friends. Recently, I saw an old photograph posted of my family’s childhood gathering spot, Boder’s on the River (restaurant). In a text, I shared this image with my extended family. Receiving this picture has spurred many heartwarming memories. What image are you going to share with your friends/family?

4. Looking to Meet New People?-  In the age of Covid, it is important to stay physically distant, but there are still ways to meet new people and “gather” virtually. Attend virtual community events, or sign up or special activities at your synagogue. Get to know people in a new way. Call your synagogue to find out more information. Investing time virtually can build new friendships and brighten your life.

5. Try a Friendship Brain Health ExercisesWork on your brain health with these fun and simple exercises. List ten friends and write what you like about them, or recall a favorite memory. Where were you? What were you doing together? Write a paragraph about this special time. Using your senses, try to recall as many details as possible.

6. Enjoy Friendship Themed Activities: 

  • Watch a Movie about Friendship-  While everyone has different movie tastes, here are a few friendship themed movies that will pull at your heartstrings.  The three listed below are a few of my favorites.
    • Hidden Figures- This 2016 hit is based on the true story of three, black NASA mathematicians. Incredible!  In this trailer, watch these brilliant and inspiring women. Click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK8xHq6dfAo
    • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial- Enjoy Director, Steven Spielberg’s, delightful film. Grab a box of tissues before you watch. “…E.T., phone home…” Click here for the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYAETtIIClk
    • Charlotte’s Web– This 2006 movie is one of my favorites! I loved the book as a child, and the movie is just as spectacular! You will laugh and cry. See how many famous voices you recognize. There are many! …Don’t be fooled, you will enjoy this movie as an adult, too! Here is a trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSC7NrzDt24
  • Send a Little Sunshine- Soup’s On! Make a special gesture and express your appreciation by dropping off homemade cookies or soup at someone’s door. Many families are complaining (not me, of course!) about making food for their families all the time. Why not surprise someone with homemade soup? A bonus- wave to your friends when you bring the dish to their door!

If you are at the grocery store, see if you can pick up a few items for a friend. Or, if you are able, buy flowers to show your gratitude. Did you know that Chrysanthemum flowers signify friendship, love and joy?

  • Listen to Songs about Friendship and Love– I am sure you will be belting out the words to these wonderful songs. They remind us about the critical role that good friends play.  These songs will touch your soul.

 7. Watch a “Museum Moment”-   Max Gendelman served in World War II and was captured by the Nazis after the Battle of the Bulge. In his captivity, he forged an unexpected friendship with a German soldier who deserted his army. This special Museum Moment is a story of survival and the power of friendship to protect in dark times. How have your friends protected you?  Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s Education Director, Ellie Gettinger discusses this remarkable story with Max Gendelman’s daughter, Nina Edelman. Click here to watch this amazing 20 minute video:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9I4i4BeRn84

 

“Friendship’s the wine of life.” (-Edward Young)

Friends fill our lives with meaning and love. Make sure to connect with them and show you care. In addition, please let me know if I can be a friend to you…. Do you have a question related to aging, memory loss or caregiving?  I am here for you, and happy to assist! Please do not hesitate to contact me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana

  • February 11, 2021

Hospice 101 with Alex Ebben – Partners in Ovation

This week in Partners in Ovation, Trish Cohn sits down with Alex Ebben, Director of Sales and Marketing at Brighton Hospice to discuss Hospice care and what sets Brighton apart from other hospice providers.

Prior to joining the Brighton team, Alex worked for a local EMS provider for close to 10 years. During this time, he began to learn more about hospice and became interested. About 2 years ago, and opportunity came to him to join the Brighton team and he jumped right in. He is so passionate about Hospice and loves the Brighton Philosophies on hospice care.

  • February 2, 2021

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

The Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat begins at sundown Wednesday, January 27 and ends at sundown on Thursday, January 28. Although it is a minor holiday, it is certainly lovely and meaningful. Often referred to as the “New Year of the Trees,” this Jewish Arbor Day marks the arrival of spring in Israel. To celebrate, people often plant trees in Israel (and all around the world) to honor or to memorialize a loved one. Tu Bishvat is also a time to connect to the land of Israel and all its beauty.

In Wisconsin, however, as I look outside and see the snow and ice, I wonder if it feels strange to discuss planting trees. Afterall, we still have at least four more months of winter! (I am kidding… well, maybe..)  Rabbi Steve Adams, Director of Pastoral Care at Ovation Communities, suggests that Tu Bishvat is a time “we can connect with our spiritual homeland, Israel.” He recommends that we try to mentally transport ourselves to Israel and feel what our ancestors experienced at this time of year. In addition, with many of us spending a great deal of time at home, he says, “this type of mental escape is one way to deal with the challenges of living through the pandemic.”

I hope this Touch Points E-Newsletter helps you reconnect with the land of Israel and offers exciting ideas to enrich your Tu Bishvat celebration. There are loads of links to click on; I hope they inspire your creativity! Have fun, smile and try something uniquely Tu Bishvat-ie! (That’s my new word.)

 

I said to the almond tree “Speak to me of G-d.”

and the almond trees blossomed. (-Nikos Kazantzakis)

 

Beautiful Ways to Celebrate and Mark the Day:

  1. Enjoy the Beauty of Israel from Your Home-   Discover the natural areas in Israel. Click on the links below to see the land and learn more. Then, visualize yourself walking around these spectacular spaces. You will be amazed! Later, when you need to escape, simply close your eyes and see yourself in these ideal settings! 
  • Ein Gedi- Filled with waterfalls, hiking trails, wildlife and history, this unique oasis is located in the middle of the desert. Click here to see photos, learn more about the area, and watch videos of the Ein Gedi Reserve and National Park in Israel.  https://www.deadsea.com/articles-tips/ein-gedi-nature-reserve/
  • Rosh HaNikra Grottoes- This is a geologic formation with dramatic white cliffs and grottoes, located on the border between Israel and Lebanon. Walk around with this Google Earth view. (Zoom out and in with the buttons on the right, or “walk around” the area by pressing the person icon.)  Click here:

https://earth.google.com/web/search/Rosh+Hanikra+Grottoes,+Israel/@33.09362748,35.10421288,26.0659788a,0d,60y,227.01219651h,76.80529129t,0r/data=CigiJgo 

  • The Kineret (Sea of Galilee)- Enjoy this bird’s eye view of the breathtaking Sea of Galilee and Tiberias.  The Kineret is Israel’s biggest lake. Click here for this one minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUalrFNLZLA
  1. Host a Tu Bishvat Seder-  In the 16th and 17th century, Kabbalists (mystics) of Israel created the Tu Bishvat Seder. Similar to the Passover Seder, during this ceremonial meal, we eat foods in a certain order. However, in the Tu Bishvat Seder, we focus on the important role of trees . Through this wonderful ritual, you will enjoy the many delicious fruits and nuts of Israel. Try using flowers and branches for a festive table decoration. Click here to lead a simple Tu Bishvat Seder  https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/a-tu-bishvat-seder/
  2. Creative Tu Bishvat Activities:
  • Enjoy a tree themed book or movie- Read or listen to Shel Sliverstein’s famous children’ book, The Giving Tree. Although it is a youngsters’ book, it has a meaningful message for any age. Click to listen to a 4 minute read aloud:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hmTc9rm8-o   Enjoy the movie, Intelligent Trees.  German forester, Peter Wohlleben, and scientist, Suzanne Simard, have been observing and studying the communication between trees. Their findings are surprising! Click here for the official movie trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HPgqqdcQXA
  • Plant indoor seeds- Use an ordinary paper egg carton, fill with a few tablespoons of soil, and then plant herbs or flower seeds. Here is a link for additional directions.  (Good for all ages.) https://thekitchengarten.com/egg-carton-seed-starters/
  • Grow an avocado tree from an avocado pit– Enjoy this activity. Click here for the step-by-step process. https://inhabitat.com/how-to-grow-an-avocado-tree-from-an-avocado-pit/
  • Looking for an interesting, edible activity?– Check out this fun 2 minute video on how to sprout anything, and then eat in a salad or on a sandwich!  Yum! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mbR5xcO8aI
  • Make a terrarium-  “Terrariums are miniature ecosystems that you can make on your own using a few simple items to get started.” (thecuriouslycreative.com) Making a terrarium is fairly easy. Click here to learn how they work and how to make your own. https://www.thecuriouslycreative.com/making-a-terrarium/
  • Celebrate the fruits and nuts of Israel with these recipes- Some of the symbolic Tu Bishvat foods are figs, dates, and carob.  For a simple treat, make a yogurt parfait including some of the fruits and nuts. Feeling adventurous? Click here to see Jamie Geller’s incredible Tu Bishvat recipe ideas. There are easy and more advanced choices. https://jamiegeller.com/recipes/collection/holiday-tu-b-shevat/
  1. Improve Your Brain HealthTry the attached the “Tree and Flower Word Jumble.” The letters of the trees and flowers are wrenched out of their proper position. Can you reconstruct the original word out of the jumble? See the attached worksheet and answer key. 
  2. Remember Vital Lessons from a Tree- Trees are wise; let’s learn from them. “Stand tall and proud. Sink your roots into the earth. Be content with your natural beauty. Go out on a limb. Drink plenty of water. Remember your roots. Enjoy the view!” (Author unknown)
  3. Learn about The Jewish National Fund-  The Jewish National Fund works to reforest Israel, and has reported planting 260 million trees there!  During Tu Bishvat, many people contribute to this organization. Throughout the year, Jewish people also commemorate a Bar or Bat Mitzvah or memorialize a loved one by planting a tree in a person’s honor/memory. Click here to learn how they strengthen and protect Israel’s green spaces and nature.   https://www.jnf.org/our-work/forestry-green-innovations

 

  1. Enjoy a “Museum Moment”-  In this (13 minute) video, Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s  Education Director, Ellie Gettinger discusses the Jewish Agricultural Settlement in Arpin, WI. As you watch, imagine the challenges of creating a new life while learning the intricacies of farming and caring for livestock. What difficulties would the Arpin community encounter? Click here for this fascinating story.  https://youtu.be/bhN8tYFRagk

 

Happy Tu Bishvat everyone! I hope your holiday is filled with joy and meaning. Please let me know how you celebrated and what were your favorite links.

Do you have questions related to aging, memory loss or caregiving?  I am here for you, and happy to assist! Please do not hesitate to contact me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

…and now I am going to “make like a tree and leave!”

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana

  • January 21, 2021

Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation with Tanya Mazor-Posner – Partners in Ovation

This week in Partners in Ovation, Trish Cohn sits down with Tanya Mazor-Posner, VP of Development Jewish home, and Care Center Foundation.

 

Tanya began her career in fundraising 25 years ago at the Jewish Federation Metropolitan in Detroit, MI. She’s traveled to Israel, Eastern Europe, and Russia to showing donors how their overseas dollars are at work. Tanya is celebrating her 4 yr anniversary as the Vie president of Development at the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation.

  • January 21, 2021

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

We did it! Pat yourself on the back for getting through an incredibly tough year! 2020 was full of uncertainties, stress, and heartache.  And, to make matters even more complicated, we had the crazy toilet paper shortage to manage!  Oy vey! If you are like me, you are more than ready to say farewell to 2020. Still, I would like to pause for a moment and think about last year. What did we learn, how did we grow, and what were the sunny spots? Looking back can often help us move forward. Who knows, you might uncover a few hidden 2020 blessings.

In this spirit, this e-newsletter is a “2020 Touch Points Look-Back.” I have included some of my favorites. Intentionally, I have selected a wide variety of topics- hoping there is something for everyone. As always, I am thinking of my friends that are caring for a loved one with memory loss. I have purposely chosen themes that will promote a joyful day, and all activities can be easily adapted.

When you look back on this past year, don’t think of the pain you felt. Think of the strength you gained, and appreciate how far you’ve come. You’ve been through a lot, but you’ve grown a lot too. Give yourself credit for your resilience, and step forward again with grace.” (-marcandangel)

Dana’s 2020 Touch Points Look-Back:

  1. Wonderful Ways to Travel From Home-  Let’s bring this beautiful world into our lives and creatively travel from home!  Without leaving our cozy sofas, we are going to discover other locals and cultures!
  1. An Easy Way to Decrease Stress- Slowing down your breath and breathing deeply will always be my favorite way to relax and destress.  Diaphragmatic breathing can decrease stress by simply using your breath. Breathe in deeply through your nose and fill your belly with air completely. Then, exhale- relax and release all the air through your nose. This type of breathing can lower the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body, and help you relax. Note: If you aren’t used to this type of breathing, only do this three times. (It may make your dizzy.)
  1. Important Ways to Care for the Caregiver- While caregiving can be a labor of love, it can also be extremely challenging. Often, caregivers are so selfless that they neglect to take care of themselves. Practicing self-care is also essential for healthcare professionals and for parents. It is important to recognize the emotional toll and find ways to refill your tank. Below are suggested ways to decrease stress and stay stronger.
  • Let Some Things Go– Sometimes, learning to let go can be one of the biggest gifts you give yourself. You don’t have to be a perfect caregiver.  Try to pick your battles. For example, if you are at home and your loved one’s shirt is inside out, then let it go. Or, perhaps the towels your loved one folded aren’t just the way you like them. Before you react, or say anything, think to yourself, “Does it really matter?” If it isn’t hurting your loved one or anyone else, then maybe letting it go will avoid added stress.
  • Ask for Help When You Need it/Take Time for Yourself–  I put these ideas together, because often they are related. Please give yourself permission to pause and reset, because everyone needs a break from caregiving. What makes you happy? Read, meditate, watch a movie, take a bath, or just find a quiet moment to relax. If you are unable to find the time, consider coordinating help from family, or hiring a caregiving agency.  The needed break will nourish your soul, and lower your stress level. My suggestion… Create a list of ways you may need help. That way, when you speak to family or an agency you are prepared. 
  1. Try a Brain Health Class, Club or WorksheetIn hopes of sending “loving” thoughts for 2021, I attached a little brain health work to keep you busy. Finding ways to work on your memory is important. In addition, our brains have an effect on every organ, system and role in the body. Do what you can to keep it at top performance! I have also attached information about our virtual classes, clubs and family support. Start this year in a healthy way by taking care of yourself! Call or email to find the just the right fit. I would love to help! See the attached:
  • Love Song Quiz- fill in the missing word(s) in the titles or lyrics
  • Answers for the Long Song Quiz
  • Ovation Adult Day Services Virtual Services– (classes and clubs, and community programs and family support)
  1. A Favorite Way to Cultivate Gratitude- Keep a daily gratitude journal (or list) to help you get in the habit of expressing your gratitude daily. In the morning when you wake up, or before you go to bed, write a list of five things you are grateful for. Try this with your loved one. Once you have a few entries, enjoy spending a few moments reading them. I guarantee you will smile. 
  1. Find Ways to Laugh: Watch a Funny TV Sitcom-  Everyone has a unique sense of humor, so watch what is funny to you. My brother, Richie, and I always joke about the I Love Lucy episode when Lucy and Ethel are working in a Chocolate Factory. The pair cannot keep up with the chocolates on the conveyor belt. So, click here and see what they do! Watch this 1-2 minute hysterical bit!  https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=i+love+lucy+episode+chocolate+factory&&view=detail&mid=E78384A70E19DAFD8835E78384A70E19DAFD8835&&FORM=VRDGAR&ru=%2Fvideos%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Di%2Blove%2Blucy%2Bepisode%2Bchocolate%2Bfactory%26%26FORM%3DVDVVXX 
  1. Improve Your Creativity: Creative Verbal Expression-  I had the pleasure of hearing Stuart Kandell, Ph.D. lead a workshop. Dr. Kandell is nationally known as the “global pioneer of creative aging.” Through performing arts, he uses creative expression. During the workshop, he used a simple, delightful exercise that I would encourage you to try at home. Take a few minutes and think about “what is your earliest smell?” Then, discuss the aroma, think about what was occurring at the time, and how it made you feel. For me, my earliest smell is my Grandma Mildred’s giant pot of chicken soup. I can still smell the scent. My Grandparent’s home was always filled with love, my big close-knit family and food. So much food. So, even today, the smell of chicken soup makes my heart sing. What smell do you remember? This is a wonderful reminiscence exercise too.
  1. Enjoy a Musical 2020 Look-Back-  On a lighter side, take a look at the year 2020 through The Musical, which aired on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon on December 7th. Click here to enjoy this clever and entertaining Broadway song recap (8 minutes) by Tony nominee, Andrew Rannells and Jimmy Fallon.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjbLY46Vaq8

It has been my sincere pleasure to write Touch Points and share it with you. Over the months, I hope this e-newsletter has ‘lightened your load’ and made you feel connected.  While I look forward to a day when we can physically be in the same space, I will continue to be here for you in 2021.  Please feel free to contact me through phone, email, zoom or even smoke signal! Whatever works- I answer to anything! I would be happy to help or answer questions with issues related to aging, memory loss or to offer caregiver support.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

I am wishing you and your family a year of good health, peace and happiness. So, goodbye to year 2020, and hello to 2021. We are ready, and welcome you with open arms, optimism and hope!

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana

  • January 8, 2021

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello Friends,

I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

In the Northern hemisphere, Monday, December 21st was the longest, darkest day of the year. After that date, the days have become longer and the nights have become shorter. Therefore, each day we receive additional light into our lives, and the darkest days, literally, recede.

In my heart, I also believe the dark days are metaphorically behind us. With the discovery of a Coronavirus vaccine, December has brought a renewed bright and optimistic outlook. As you know, just days ago, Wisconsin’s front line workers received their first inoculations!  While we all have to diligently continue wearing masks, staying home, social distancing and washing our hands, this is the first sign of hope to end the pandemic! Such incredible news overwhelms me with tears of joy, gratitude, and relief. Friends, we made it through the dark tunnel of 2020, and I can now see the sunlight peeking through the other end. Do you see the glimmer too? It is just around the bend. Consequently, this Touch Points is about brightness and positivity.

Throughout my life, I have been blessed with two people whose hopeful outlook has provided strength and support. So, this Touch Points is lovingly dedicated to my beautiful Mother, Arlene, for teaching me how to find a positive outlook even during the most challenging times, and to my supportive husband, Adam, for infusing my life with an optimistic perspective- often when I need it most. I am so grateful to have them in my life.

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” (-Les Miserables)

Ways to “Look Toward the Light”:

  1. Lighten Your Perspective-  One of the biggest lessons I have learned during the pandemic is about flexibility and letting things go. Nothing has been perfect during Covid-19.  In fact, throughout this ordeal we have needed to be creative, go with the flow and laugh. For example, who would have ever imagined my family would be eating Thanksgiving in my backyard, wearing winter coats and “gatkes” (Yiddish for long underwear)- with my parents seated 10 feet away?! How absurd! Despite the overall weirdness (is that a word?), we were not frustrated. Instead, we embraced this unusual Thanksgiving experience with hats, gloves, blankets and a few outdoor twinkling lights. In the end, we cherished this unforgettable, glimmering, slightly silly evening.

A bit of a Zen philosophy is a very good practice. Letting things go and allowing additional happiness and light into your heart will feel wonderful. Afterall, what is really important?!? -Good health, seeing the people you love, nourishment, safety and warmth. Let’s all lighten our perspective and find additional peace.

In the same manner, flexibility is also vital when caring for someone with memory loss. For example, there will be days that you plan an activity, but your loved one is not interested.  When this happens (and it will), take a breath, and say to yourself, “That’s okay.” Allow your loved one to lead, and go with his/her new idea.  Who knows, it might be more fun than the original plan!

“Change the things that can be changed, accept those that cannot, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

(-The Serenity Prayer) 

  1. Find People with a Bright Outlook- We all have difficult days.  I encourage you to find people that help you look toward the lighter side, and can fill your heart with a sunny perspective. Who lifts you up and provides your “emotional medicine?” Call a friend that you haven’t talked to for a while. Find out the latest and share details about your own life. It won’t take long until you start laughing; laughing triggers endorphins, which are the “happy chemicals in your brain!” Surrounding yourself with positive people will enhance your quality of life.

“Stay Close to People Who Feel Like Sunlight.” (-author unknown)

  1. Embrace a Bright Caregiving Perspective- When sharing an activity with a loved-one with memory loss, try to create a space for unconditional acceptance and love. Concentrate on the feelings you both experience during the activity, not the outcome. For example, enjoy the beautiful moment when you licked the cookie dough batter off the spoon and grinned together; but let go of the not-so-perfect baked cookies. In addition, look for ways to compliment your loved one for his/her help and involvement. Admiration can make the interaction even warmer!

“A little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness.” (-Jewish proverb) 

  1. Shine a Light on Yourself With This Illuminating ExerciseSometimes the questions we ask ourselves or contemplate awaken an optimistic perspective and attitude. You have many wonderful qualities; I hope these questions nourish your inner joy, sense of accomplishment, and value. Write down your answers or enjoy a lively discussion at dinner. Answer these prompts:  What are the things that keep you going? What are you most proud of- big or small? What do you love to be complimented on?
  1. Watch the Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s “Museum Moment”-  Evelyn Peters was raised in Milwaukee but impacted the Jewish world through her work with the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). She was a true “light unto the nations.” In this Museum Moment, Education Director, Ellie Gettinger, explores her life. On a personal note, my brother-in-law, Hyim, and sister-in-law, Sara, worked for Evelyn Peters in 1995.  Through the JDC, Hyim was the Rabbi for the Mumbai Jewish community and Sara was a volunteer in the Jewish Service Corps there. Watch this video (14 minutes) about Evelyn Peters’ global work:  https://youtu.be/dqLxgS0P_vs  
  1. Put Your Own Light into the World- As we have talked about, it is particularly important to think about helping other folks during the pandemic. If you are in a position to assist, please offer support. The simplest act or the smallest gesture of love can change someone’s day in an immense way. In what ways can you shine your light on other people? If you aren’t sure what to do, then give the gift of time to someone that might need it. Pick up the phone or make a Facetime call and listen.  Your genuine kindness and smile will have an impact and provide a precious, needed gift.

“Let your light shine so brightly that others can see their way out of the dark.” (-unknown) 

  1. Get Inspired by Other People’s Example-  Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1995. His life changed. Among many things, he started the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and wrote books. One of his books is called, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. Watch this (5 minute) video with talk show host, Ellen Degeneres, and hear Michael J. Fox’s inspirational, uplifting message. Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8JCzz0tCds

“Bring love wherever you go. Shine light wherever it’s dark. Leave blessings wherever you’ve been. Be kind wherever you are.”

(-Mary Davis)

I am thinking of you and wishing you all a wonderful, bright December; I hope each day brings additional light into your lives. Let’s also raise our glasses and toast to 2021. May the new year bring peace and good health to those that are hurting or ailing, and a renewed sense optimism and light to the entire world.

As always, I am here for you, and would love to assist or answer questions with issues related to aging, memory loss or to offer caregiver support.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana

  • December 23, 2020