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.

There is no way for me to minimize the pandemic or to give you a timeline. I wish there was. The reality is that it has been a long road, and we are just plain “in it.”  I know that there is uncertainty and a sense of weariness. But, today, I am here to reignite the fire inside of you. I know that you can find the strength to push through this; we will get to the other side of this situation.  In this week’s “Touch Points” I will be focusing on the importance of perseverance and finding ways to stay strong. I would like to share productive thoughts/habits, so ‘sticking it out’ is a little easier. As always, some ideas will resonate with you, and others… not so much… So, just try one or two things consistently, and I bet you will see a positive change.

In addition, I am thinking of all the families that are at home right now caring for someone they love. Perhaps that person has memory loss or dementia. My heart is with you as you manage through during this challenging situation. Besides doing your best to care for your loved-one, it is particularly important that you remember to care for yourself. I hope some of the ideas help you stay strong.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” (-Walter Elliot)

Here are Some Ways to Help Find Strength and Persevere:

  1. Find Strength on the Inside– In the past, some of us may have been through a health crisis or a life altering event. I am sure those times were incredibly difficult and traumatic. Perhaps, when you were in the middle of the event, you may have even wondered how you would get through it. But, you did. You found the strength inside to stay strong and do the impossible. Now, today, look back at that moment and remind yourself what you are made of. Build on that circumstance to help you through this moment, today.
  2. Watch an Inspirational, True Story about Olympian, Derek Redmond- This illustrates how important it is to never give up and to lean on people, when you need. Grab a tissue box first!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZlXWp6vFdE
  3. Be Your Own Cheerleader and Stay Positive– Positive affirmations can be very powerful tools to help us through difficult times. Sometimes, words, coupled with intentional posture can send a loud message. I know it sounds crazy, but it really works. First, focus on your stance. Put your shoulders back and stand tall with your head high. Look in the mirror, and say a short phrase that brings you strength. For example, try saying, “I’ve got this!” “I am strong.” “I can do this.” You are capable of so much more. Believe it yourself! Each week brings us closer to the end.
  4. You Have a Role in This Battle Too!–  We all can do our part! Each day, we can each make safe, healthy choices to make our world safer. For example, by wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing, we make daily choices to help ourselves, each other, our community and even our world.  Psychologically, it’s also important to focus on what we can do as opposed to what we cannot. So, making deliberate, healthy choices throughout the day/week, may bring you an additional sense of power and strength.
  5. Try a Positive Brain Health Exercise– List 7 traits about yourself that you can always rely on. Then, write a short story about how one trait has helped you succeed in life. I bet that feels pretty darn good to shine a light on the gifts you already own! Embrace those traits; recall them whenever you need them.
  6. Take a Step Back and Believe– I know this might sound contrived or sentimental, but I honestly believe there is goodness in the world. I also believe that positive energy helps heal and awakens our best self. So, while I recognize this is very challenging moment, in my heart I see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I encourage you to believe that goodness will prevail. In my own life, I have needed to find strength throughout multiple health crises. Without a doubt, having a positive mindset helped me heal and reach the other side. So, today, I encourage you to continue to hope and to believe in the good. Let’s notice and celebrate, for example, each progress scientists make. This optimistic outlook will help you find additional strength. Find the light that supports you and let it in. Keep believing consistently, and it will bring you additional joy and peace.
  7. Be Compassionate with Yourself– It’s okay to ask other’s for help to get through this. In fact, asking for help is a sign of strength. It means you are vulnerable enough to show other people your fears or emotions. So please give yourself permission to ask for assistance or rely on someone. Sometimes, asking for support can even strengthen the connection and trust between people. Surround yourself with people who care. If you are stuck or need additional help with caregiving resources, I am here, too! Just ask- my email is below. You are not alone. I would also encourage you to contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900. Trained staff is available day or night to help you with questions and caregiving issues.
  8. Check Out The Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s “Museum Moment”Ellie Gettinger, Education Director, shares the story of Harry Soref and Master Lock. Click here to watch this 10 minute video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GnN7EyJPpo&list=PLl-OCNr_mRXQ7DNfR6PSo4K0qdmYGmlz4&index=12&t=13s.  This story demonstrates the point of view- if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Once you watch, think about how persistence and patience work together.  Is there a time in your life that you continued to pursue a project even after you were rejected?

As Winnie-The-Pooh said, “Rivers know this:  There is no hurry, we shall get there some day.” This pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. Please have faith, stay strong and persevere. Together, we will get through this.

I am here for you and very happy to help. Please email me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

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

Dana

 

  • July 10, 2020

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

“We need leaders

not in love with money

but in love with justice.

Not in love with

publicity but in love

with humanity.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. 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.

Since our children were little, we were blessed to enjoy the July 4th holiday with friends in Whitefish Bay. They lived only a short block from Klode Park. During the afternoon hours, we sat on chairs in their front yard eating appetizers, and watching the crowds of people pass. Later, our family would wander to the park, enjoying games, face painting, and live music. A BBQ dinner would follow, with the culminating event- watching the fireworks from their backyard! I looked forward to the joyful energy and this uniquely American experience. I felt like part of a Norman Rockwell painting; it was idyllic. But, as you know in life, things change. A few years ago, our friends sold their home in Whitefish Bay, and out of necessity, we figured out another July 4th plan. Our celebration moved to another home and location, and we watched fireworks at another park. It was not exactly the same, but we loved it in a new way.

Similarly, this year, we need to pivot again. With Covid-19, we need to find safe ways to celebrate and avoid larger gatherings. So, we all need to get creative and find innovative ways to celebrate at home. For our family celebration, we created, a “Winkelman Survivor Challenge.” Modeled loosely after the show ‘Survivor,’ we will compete in a series of wacky challenges and ‘fight’ for the title of Survivor! We are all excited for this friendly backyard competition. So you see, the year 2020 will be different, but it will be memorable in its own way.

Lately, I have been thinking that the key to a happier life, is a mix of flexibility and imagination.  So, this Touch Points is all about celebrating and enjoying July 4th with a little flexibility and creativity. I hope these ideas will help you get started. As always, I am also thinking about those families caring for someone with memory loss. There are links and activity ideas below.

 

JULY 4TH– MARK THE DAY AND CELEBRATE!

  1. Info on Celebrations for July 4th-  As we know, for safety, most of the larger gatherings and fireworks have been cancelled. We are all trying to stay healthy and social distance. Depending on where the celebrations are, however, you might be able to watch safely from your car. Click here to see info from the Journal Sentinel      https://www.jsonline.com/story/communities/2020/05/27/4th-july-fireworks-parades-and-cancellations-milwaukee-and-suburbs/5265464002/
  2. Watch the Fireworks from Home -Stream Online-  Pop some popcorn, and enjoy the beauty and splendor of the fireworks while in your own home. Click here for more information:   https://stylecaster.com/4th-of-july-fireworks-live-stream/
  3. Enjoy a Cheerful Meal at Home-  Grill hotdogs, hamburgers, corn and eat outside. Bake cookies and decorate with red, white and blue icing, or make red, white and blue snacks with fruit/veggies. For an easy recipe, ask your loved-one to help wash and cut strawberries, blueberries and bananas to make a patriotic, beautiful fruit salad (blackberries, raspberries and watermelon work too!). Add a squeeze of lime for a little variation. In the mood for a refreshing patriotic beverage? Simply, add blueberries, strawberries, and sparkling water to lemonade. Yum!
  4. Wow Your Family with a Few Fun (and Slightly Ridiculous) Facts –Did you know that in 2018 Joey Chestnut set a world record by consuming 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes?! Did you know that according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes, that is really a thing), Americans will consume about 150 million hot dogs on July 4th? Oy vey, I think I feel a little sick…
  5. Watch a Patriotic Movie- Watch the 1939 film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Featuring James Stewart and Jean Arthur, this movie won the Academy Award for Best Story, or try the 1942 movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” For something more recent, watch the action-packed movie, “Captain America- The First Avenger.”
  6. Try a Patriotic Brain Health Exercise–  Name songs, phrases or book titles that have the words America, freedom or flag in them. Or, use the words ‘Independence Day’ and make as many words as you can by rearranging the letters. (For example- depend, end or dance)
  7. Work to Make our County and Community Better–  How do you show gratitude for the freedom America has provided to you? How do you help protect these freedoms for others? Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Fight for the things your care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” I challenge you to think how you can help. One important way is to vote!  With the pandemic, I would encourage you to get an absentee ballot. It’s easy!  Click here for more information https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/VoteAbsentee
  8. Listen to Patriotic Music or Have a Fourth of July Singing Party- Bring your “ruach”/spirit, and sing your little heart out! Click here to see Ray Charles sing America the Beautiful. Grab a tissue box, and watch this incredible, inspiring performance! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlHMQEegpFs
  9. Check out The Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s-“Museum Moment”  – Ellie Gettinger, Education Director, discusses the making of The Settlement Cookbook, and how cooking classes were used as a way to learn how to be American. Many of the recipes reflect the places where the writers of the book came from, Germany and Central Europe. After you watch, think about what the food traditions that your family holds dear? Where did they originate?  This is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5wgGP3z7g8&feature=youtu.be  Or, since immigration is central to the story of the United States, watch a story of coming to America: https://youtu.be/wtOBh02iRSo  How did your family come to the United States?

 

I hope your July 4th is full of joy. I would love to hear from you! Email me here: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

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

Dana

 

  • July 6, 2020

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

 

“There are only two seasons- winter and baseball.” – Bill Veeck

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. 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.

My Dad, Howie, has taught me many things. Some of the values that I hold dear like honesty and love of family were learned from my parents. Although there are many things I could share about my Dad, today, I will share one, undeniable, fact. My Dad absolutely loves baseball. My parents have been sweethearts since they were 14 and 15 years old, but my Dad’s love affair with baseball goes back even farther than my Mom! So, this week, you can only imagine how exciting it was to hear Major League Baseball (MLB) announce the 2020 regular season will open on July 23 or 24!  Hallelujah!  Did you just hear the angels sing??! …Why yes, yes I did!  My Dad’s beloved game is on!

We are only one month from hearing those cherished words, “PLAY BALL!” So, on the heels of Father’s Day, with the incredible MLB announcement, and with a loving nod to my favorite baseball nut, my Dad, I write this Touch Points in his honor.

As always, I am also thinking about those families caring for someone with memory loss. For the sports fan in your life, there are modifiable activity ideas throughout this email and “clickable” links.

OH BELOVED BASEBALL: HOW, EVER, WILL WE GET THROUGH THE NEXT MONTH WITHOUT YOU?!?

  1. It’s Time to Start the Anticipation- Check out this piece on 20 reasons to be excited about the season. I particularly like number 15! The author, Richard Justice says, “Count on this:  the Brewers are again going to be good.” Click here to read: https://www.mlb.com/news/reasons-to-be-excited-for-2020-baseball-season 
  2. Jewish Fantasy Draft-  Did you know that on June 21st, the first all-time Jewish fantasy draft was hosted by Rabbi Jeremy Fine?  Rabbi Fine is otherwise known as “The Great Rabbino.” (I didn’t make that up!) The program helped raise funds for Team Israel’s quest for a medal in the 2021 Olympics. The event was even streamed live on Facebook.  Read more about this fun event in the JewishJournal. Click here: https://jewishjournal.com/commentary/blogs/317345/rabbi-jeremy-fine-on-his-upcoming-event-with-team-israel-baseball/ 
  3. Longing for the Game?-  Curious to see what happened today in Jewish baseball history, or feeling nostalgic for past seasons? Click here to read http://jewishbaseballmuseum.com/spotlight-story/today-in-jewish-baseball-history/.
  4. Who is Your Favorite Player of All Time?  – I know that my Dad’s favorite Jewish baseball players are Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg. Fun fact:  Did you know that in 1965 Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in Game 1 in the World Series because it was Yom Kippur, a Jewish holy day?!  That is quite a strong statement for a Jew in 1965! Who are your favorite players and/or what players have impressive convictions like Sandy Koufax? I was moved by the powerful video that Black MLB players created in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Click here: https://jewishjournal.com/commentary/blogs/317345/rabbi-jeremy-fine-on-his-upcoming-event-with-team-israel-baseball/ 
  5. Try a Variety of Baseball Activity Ideas at Home- Watch old games on sports networks, listen to the classic song “Take me out to the ball game”, or sort baseball cards/sports memorabilia. Consider searching in your garage for sports gear your loved one used to use. A well-loved baseball glove, for example, might lead to recalling years gone by. Or, try completing a large piece sports themed puzzle, or drawing/painting a sports field or balls.
  6. Create a Special Baseball Themed Afternoon or Evening-  Wear your favorite team apparel, and watch a baseball themed movie like: The Sandlot, The Natural, Field of Dreams, or The Bad New Bears. (I highly recommend all these movies!) Make it more authentic by making your favorite game day food/snacks. Enjoy favorite dishes like a bag of roasted peanuts, Cracker Jacks or a Chicago style hot dog with mustard, relish and a poppy seed bun. If you want, you can even buy Major League baseball peanuts! Click here: https://www.hamptonfarms.com/pages/major-league-baseball-peanuts 
  7. Try a Few Baseball Brain Health Exercises–  Imagine you are sitting at the bleachers at a baseball game. List all the sounds, smells and tastes you may encounter. Or, for the true baseball enthusiast, try matching baseball teams with their city. Print out the attached matching game.
  8. Check out The Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s-“Museum Moment”  The always interesting Education Director, Ellie Gettinger, covers a piece called, “Milwaukee and Baseball, A Love Story.” After you watch, think about who inspired your love of sports? Click here to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WctOj0FNDNw&list=PLl-OCNr_mRXQ7DNfR6PSo4K0qdmYGmlz4&index=5&t=0s

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…  For caregivers, sometimes things that work one day, don’t work well the next. So, if not a good day today, then give it a try another time.  As Babe Ruth said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” I’m hoping that today is your “home run day.”

I would love to hear from you! Email me here: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

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

Dana

 

  • June 25, 2020

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. 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 our home, Friday is a distinctive day. In the afternoons, the aroma of homemade cinnamon-sugar challah (braided egg bread) wafts through our house as I start to prepare for Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner. A table is set with Shabbat candle sticks, challah, and kiddush cups for wine. And, around 6:00PM you can expect to hear our family sing “Shalom Aleichem,” a song about the angels that accompany us on Shabbat. Our children expect these Jewish rituals as we gather together and eat a special Shabbat meal.

I have come to realize that these familiar traditions and the love behind these Jewish rituals, help ground us to each other and connect us to our community and heritage. I pray that these rituals have also helped our family through this strange time. Our children know that Friday night Shabbat dinner always happens; it is a constant in our lives. So, despite all the unknowns and fear, Shabbat is, and always will be, a sacred, safe space that reinforces our beliefs and our connection. In this spirit, this week’s “Touch Points” is dedicated to the importance of rituals and traditions.

As always, I am also thinking about those families caring for someone with memory loss. Traditions and rituals can be quite important to those with cognitive loss; they serve as a warm connection to the past and a shared memory. I have peppered comments throughout the email.

 

RITUALS AND TRADITIONS: HOW DO THEY HELP?

  1. Traditions help us find meaning-  Traditions and rituals help us through milestones in our lives, and through difficult times. They can reinforce our values and identity, and help us find meaning. During a difficult time like Covid-19, it is important to find aspects of life that ‘ground’ us. Above, I described our weekly Friday rituals. For me, these traditions elevate a meal into something sacred. Do you have weekly rituals or traditions that elevate the ordinary? Try to incorporate them into your week.
  2. Ritualistic acts make the day uncomplicated– We all have small things that are daily rituals. These, sometimes, mindless events help us get through our day. So, during a time when we are at home most of the day, these everyday rituals can provide a kind of clock; they help orient us to our usual routine.  For example, perhaps morning is the time to shower, or to make a cup of coffee. Rituals and schedules can also be helpful for someone with memory loss, and may help him/her feel a sense of comfort and control. A routine can also help the individual retain his/her independence longer. In addition, for the caregiver, a routine can help plan the day, so you can spend more time enjoying the activity, rather than figuring out what to do.
  3. Traditions and rituals help us cope – In times of uncertainty or stress it is nice to fall back on a ritual that is known and predictable. The stability can bring a sense of comfort and help us cope with stress. Rituals might be a special meal together, a weekly Zoom call with family or friends, or a walk. I encourage you to continue whatever ritual you have created, or modify it so it will work today. The connection will reinforce the values that matter.
  4. Traditions and rituals provide a connection to our past– There is something beautiful and sacred about performing the same traditions that our ancestors have done for centuries, and knowing that all around the world, people are also carrying out the same traditions.  I am filled with wonder and a sense of holiness when I consider this connection, as I light Shabbat candles on Friday night. Do you have a tradition in your religion or in your family that connects you to your ancestors? Do you have a ritual object that your parent or grandparent used? For someone with memory loss, handling objects can evoke special conversations and spark warm memories.
  1. Tradition provides an opportunity to express ourselves and share– Sometimes traditions provide an opportunity to slow down your pace, and spend time reconnecting. Try a dinnertime ritual of asking each person, “What is one good thing that happened to you today?”
  2. Try a brain health exercise about tradition– Use a family tradition and write about it! Use all the senses, five action words and five emotions.
  3. Check out The Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s-“Museum Moment”  Education Director, Ellie Gettinger, explores a Jewish tradition that shifted and changed in the United States. Milwaukee-native, Dr. Annie Polland discusses the creation and evolution of the Bat Mitzvah. After you listen, think about what traditions have evolved over time. Click here to watch: https://youtu.be/g4PUh0EmVss

 

I would love to hear how you are doing, what rituals you find comforting, and what you find challenging.  For those caregivers, as you know, sometimes things that work one day, don’t work well the next. So, if not a good day today, then give it a try another time. Again, love to hear from you! Email me here: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

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

Dana

 

  • June 18, 2020

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

 

“World peace begins with inner peace.”

(Dalai Lama)

 

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. 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.

This was a difficult week to write Touch Points. I was planning on a different, much lighter, topic. But, with so much pain, I wanted to find my own, small way, to embrace our community. The world is aching with anger and sadness, and we are all hurting too. Each of us has been touched in some way by the pandemic and the senseless and tragic killing of George Floyd. With so much unrest in our world and our communities, we feel a range of emotions. My heart and prayers are with George Floyd’s family and with the other victims of racial violence.

What can we do?  As a society, we need to strive to uphold the ideals that “all men are created equal.”  Let us come together and find peaceful ways to have all our voices heard, to support each other and to strive for equality. On a micro-level, we need to take better care of ourselves and our loved-ones. The emotional and psychological stress can be very damaging.  So, in attempt to put my arms around our community, this week’s “Touch Points” email will be focused on ways to minimize stress.

As always, I am also thinking about those families caring for someone with memory loss. As caregivers, you may be depleted. I hope these small ideas, will make everyone’s day a little easier.

WAYS TO MINIMIZE STRESS:

  1. Turn Off or Limit Your News Consumption-  There is a reason I put this first. I must admit, this is the number one thing I do to keep my stress level down. TV, social media, internet and newspapers spend much of their coverage on the pandemic and unrest. While it is important to be informed, it may be very upsetting. So consuming less media can decrease worry and agitation. Some experts have said to limit to one hour each day. But, everyone is different, and for me, some days, that is way too much. So, my advice is simple- notice how you are feeling when you watch, and reduce the time until it feels good to you. For cognitively impaired individuals, listening and watching disturbing images can increase fear and agitation. It may be important to adjust the environment to your loved-one’s changing abilities and emotions.
  2. Get the Facts From a Good Source – We all want to be informed, so please find credible sources. Choose a news source that will provide accurate information. Some sources editorialize with political views; this may add additional angst and worry.
  3. Switch Your Attention to Something Else– Do you find you are thinking about something and it’s making you anxious? You can reduce your worry by redirecting your attention to another topic. In a similar way, someone caring for an individual with memory loss, can divert negative attention from a tense event to something more agreeable. This is technique can be quite calming.
  4. Stop Speculating or Ruminating– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… stop with the “what if’s.” Be informed so you can make good decisions. But, try not to think “what if this happens or that happens.” And, please put down your phone!  Cell phones have news, social media and email. These can also trigger additional worry and rumination. But, if you find yourself thinking about a subject for a long time, take charge of your thoughts. After all, they are yours!  Why not try an effective therapeutic technique called “thought stopping.” This interrupts the thought and gives the person a few moments to think things through. So, when you find your worries are heavy, think or say “stop” or “not now.” It will force you to pause and quiet your mind.
  5. Slow Down Your Breath and Breathe Deeply– Diaphragmatic breathing can decrease stress by 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. If you aren’t used to this type of breathing, only do this three times. (It may make your dizzy.)
  6. Muscle Isolation–  Worry and anxiety can makes us “stuck in our heads.” By focusing on our body and the sensations we feel with muscle isolation, we move attention from our thoughts to our body. Sit in a comfy chair and close your eyes or divert them to the floor. Start squeezing your toes and hold it for five seconds. Then release the muscles and feel the relaxation. Repeat this process working from your toes all the way up your head and through your arms, hands and fingers. This will release tension and change your focus. For those of you helping a loved-one, you can try this process or modify it, if need. It can also be a nice way to relax together at the end of the day or before bedtime.

I am sending prayers of comfort and peace. I am here for you. Email me: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

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

Dana

  • June 8, 2020

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”

(Vincent Van Gogh)

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. 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 this week’s “Touch Points” email I will be discussing the importance of going outdoors, and how incorporating time can improve your health. Now that the weather is warmer, we are able to venture out of our homes and enjoy the beauty of nature. Spending time outside (while practicing social distancing and safety, of course!) can improve your sleep, mood, mental and physical health, and reduce stress.

We are lucky to live in a beautiful city and state. Not only are we located right off the shores of stunning Lake Michigan, but we are blessed with well-maintained Milwaukee County Parks, nature trails, beaches and gardens! So, as our state parks and forests open, I want to share different ways to incorporate the great outdoors into your life! As always, I am thinking about our families caring for someone with memory loss. If possible, I would encourage an outdoor excursion for you, too. This can be a valuable experience. However, for all of us, in the face of COVID and social distancing, I would suggest planning ahead and choosing a location that is not crowded. There are a variety of ideas below- some just outside your door, and other, more complicated, suggestions. I hope you find a good fit; a nature-rich day is just what the doctor ordered!

WAYS TO FIND A DAILY DOSE OF OUTDOOR FUN:

  1. Just Do it!- Go Outside-  Being outside has positive psychological benefits. For me, when I am outside, I am able to turn my mind off and enjoy the moment. Although I am not a doctor, I would like to “prescribe” a 20 minute daily ‘dose’ of outdoor/nature time. There are plenty of outdoor spaces to choose from. Try sitting under a tree, on a bench, or enjoy a rooftop garden. Getting outside may also reduce isolation and grow our sense of wonder.
  2. Patio Time Anyone? – Simply, step outside your home find a comfy seat. Personally, I enjoy a morning cup of coffee on our deck. The birds serenade me while I watch the tall, trees sway. It is my own little slice of heaven.  If later in the day is better, then how about enjoying a lemonade and a nosh, or even a meal.
  3. Take a stroll– Hit the road in your area for an evening stroll or check out the trails. Although there are many beautiful parks to choose from, today, I want to highlight historic Lake Park. If you never have visited, it is certainly worth a try. Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, this beautiful park has winding paths, vistas and formal landscaping and gardens. The landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmstead, also designed Central Park in New York City! Wow! It would be an ideal spot for a romantic picnic, or a place to enjoy nature and reflect. To incorporate a little brain health while you stroll, try naming 15 things to do in nature. If Lake Park doesn’t float your boat, or you would like to try another, click here to find the park of your dreams! https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Parks/Explore/Find-a-Park
  4. Exercise or play games outside– Run, bike, walk or play a game outside. We are trying to find ways to spend time with our three teenagers. So, in an attempt to love and connect with them in a meaningful way (groan here please), we have planned family games of crochet, badminton and volleyball in our front yard. I am sure it is hard to believe that our 13, 15, and 18 year old children do not always want to spend time with us. However, when this rarity occurs, we know just what to do. We offer an incentive. Meaning- we bribe them with desserts to play with us. Okay, stop judging… I know some of you do it too!
  5. Camp or try “deck camping”– If you can camp, pop up a tent in your backyard. And, if you used to camp, but it is not possible to that now, then try “deck camping.” Bring out binoculars, granola bars, and eat s ‘mores on your deck. This sweet snack of chocolate bars and marshmallows, sandwiched between graham crackers, will take you right back to your last camping trip. While you are looking up at the stars, incorporate a few creative questions into your experience. What is your earliest memory? What is your favorite memory in nature? If you could be anywhere in the world, where would it be?  Click here for a recipe for indoor s ‘mores https://lmld.org/make-indoor-smores/
  6. Be a virtual wildlife observer- Do you find that getting out is difficult or you are safer at home? No problem! For any bird lover, take a relaxing break and watch the Cornell Lab Bird Cams. This virtual field trip is mesmerizing! Thank you Michael Sattell who shared this lovely, fun link. Click here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/

How are you enjoying your daily dose of the outdoors? Please email and share. I always enjoy hearing from you! DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

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

Dana

  • May 28, 2020

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No not just for some but for everyone.”

(1965 popular song –lyrics by Hal David and music composed by Burt Bacharach)

 

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. 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 this week’s “Touch Points” email I want to talk about Shalom, which means peace in Hebrew. As our world, our communities and homes begin to open up slowly, and “bounce back,” most of us are having all kinds of feelings. This is a normal, and together, we will find the strength, patience and compassion to move forward. Although we cannot change aspects of this pandemic, we do have control in how we respond. So, today, we will discuss simple ways we can add “shalom” into our home and into the world. By intentionally choosing how we react, we will heal our souls and begin repairing the world- “Tikkun Olam.”  As always, for those of you caring for someone with memory loss, I have peppered ideas throughout this email to support you and to enhance your day.

 

CHOOSING SHALOM/PEACE- MOVING TOWARD LOVE AND KINDNESS:

  1. Let’s Start at Home- Creating “Shalom Bayit”-  Shalom Bayit translates to peace in the home. Usually, this refers to a peaceful relationship between partners in a home. However, today, I am using it a little more liberally. Even when you are with the right partner, staying at home for an extended time is not easy. So, creating shalom bayit needs daily work. Of course, there are many things we can do, but today, I will focus on communication. An easy way to show the person in your home you care, respect and love them is by listening. I know you are thinking to yourself, “Okay Dana, that is so obvious! I do that already.” I know it sounds simple, but in actuality, it’s not! The kind of listening I am referring to is giving your loved one your complete attention (phone away and no other distractions- which is a difficult proposition in my home! Oy vey), providing good eye contact, and (most importantly!) allowing the person to speak without interruption. You will be amazed, if you are patient and listen in this attentive way; the interaction will be relaxed and joyful. After all, we all want to be heard and understood. This is also true for people caring for someone with memory loss. Being patient, calm and looking at the person when he/she speaks will enable you to think about the feelings behind the words. This is also a way to treat your loved one with dignity and respect.

However, some people are unable to have peace in their home. If you, or someone you know is in an unhealthy relationship or feels unsafe, please call The Sojouner Hotline: 414-933-2722 or the US Domestic National Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE. Help is available.

  1. Let the little things go– My very wise Mom, Arlene, always said, “Dana, pick your battles.” Well, again, she was right. Everyone makes mistakes and none of us are perfect. So, let’s try to be a little gentler. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in the house, or finding a better way to do something, appreciate how things are. For those of you caring for someone with memory loss, please remember- things do not have to be perfect. Your loved one may be forgetting how to complete a task, but inviting him/her to help (even in a small way) will provide a positive outcome. You may need to break down the activities into smaller steps.
  2. Novel ideas to try outside of your home:
  • Proactively ask friends or family what you can do to help. Or, surprise them with a homemade meal dropped at their door (while social distancing) This could make a huge difference and ease their day (especially for those providing caregiving).
  • If you have the funds, consider donating to a local food bank to help people that are food insecure.
  • Check on your neighbour or family that may need support call. Let them know you are available to listen or to help.
  • When you walk by someone, please say hello and smile. Open your heart and share your happiness.
  • If you order takeout food, remember to tip.
  • Support our local business by buying gift cards.
  1. Change your perspective- Be a “glass half full person, rather than a glass half empty person.” In other words, look at a situation, reframe the how you interpret it, and adapt a new perspective. This will make you happier. For example, instead of being sad that I am at home this week, I am grateful for the extra time to nourish my soul and be available to my family. The time has given me an opportunity to read, get sucked into completing 500 piece puzzle with my family (holy cow that’s a lot of pieces!), and to try new recipes. This week I am also looking forward to sharing a favorite movie with my daughter, Shoshi.
  2. Check out the Jewish Museum Milwaukee Museum Moment– “Eva Zaret and Her Scroll” is an incredible story. After WWII Eva kicked around rocks in the Carpathian Mountains and found a scroll. This became her means of talking to G-d. As life goes on, she filled her life with study as a way of absorbing her anger. After you watch this, think about what techniques have you used to let go of your anger and move toward peace? https://youtu.be/Lg7YJ4B6dxE

 

I would love to hear how you are moving toward love and kindness. Together, we will get through this. I welcome your thoughts and emails: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

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

Dana

  • May 22, 2020

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. 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 this week’s “Touch Points” email I will be focusing on how adding more creativity into your day can elevate and nourish your soul. I realize I may have just “lost” some readers when I dared to use the “C” word (“C” is for creativity, by the way). But, that’s okay, I am up for the challenge of persuading you! Creativity isn’t only for a select few. In fact, if you remain open to the possibilities, I guarantee that you will let light into your heart and your life. There are many ways to create and feel inspired; my list below is just a starting point. So, let’s get “out of our heads” for a while, and get lost in the magic of creating!

For those of you caring for someone with memory loss, enhancing your loved-one’s day through meaningful recreational activities, like the arts, can have a profound impact on their overall health and quality of life. Creativity can improve mental health, physical health and brain health. And, of course, completing something together makes the day brighter as you share the process and the joy. I have included ideas that are easily adaptable (or might be perfect, as is!). Jump in, and refresh your soul with something new!

Ideas to Improve Your Life with Creativity:

  1. Take a Doodle Break– Due to the possible creative naysayers, I am starting with an easy way to wade into the creative process. Eventually, however, I will win you over! Doodling is an great way to begin. Take a piece of paper and just doodle.  When you doodle, try not to have anything particular in mind.  Instead, let your pencil wander over the paper and see what happens.  Try to keep your mind out of it, letting your imagination wander.  Doodle for about five minutes.  Take a look at what you have done.  You may be surprised at how creative you have been.  What is it?  What could it be?  Look at it upside down and sideways.  It is a good brain exercise.
  2. Create a Bucket List  This is a list of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish before the end of their life. Try coming up with an individual list, or create a list with your family. The answers might surprise you! Your Bucket List could be as small as trying Indian food or as big as buying a motor home… There might be even things on your list that you can accomplish safely while socially isolating.
  3. Use Art to Express Your Emotions-  Art, certainly, can be therapeutic. Gather any art supplies you have at home. Honestly, anything will work… paper, pens, pencils, paint, and/or markers. Some people like to also make a collage with a collection with various materials like old magazines, fabric or photos. Think about how you are feeling, breathe deeply and let your hands move over the paper. Don’t get caught up in what things look like, rather, just enjoy the process. The exploration may be healing. In addition, creating, without words, may help a loved one with word-finding difficulty find a place to express him/herself. In fact, it may spark new insights into how your loved one is feeling.
  4. Try Creative Verbal Expression-  Last year, 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.
  5. Journal- Journaling is a great way to self-reflect, organize your thoughts and inspire creativity. Fill your journal with details about the day, dreams, how you are feeling, or take a mental trip somewhere.  You can write or draw. Maybe you would like to reflect on your experience during this pandemic? What things would you leave in a timebox to tell future generations about this moment in time? Like other art expression, journaling has the ability to help you find your voice. If it feels good, try to get into a flow. Journaling can also boost memory and comprehension.
  6. Need a little inspiration?- Still stuck? These talented artists may ignite your imagination. Check out the Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s “From the Archives” with Jay Hyland. Jay highlights our talented resident, Annette Hirsh. Annette is a beautiful Judaic metalsmith artist. https://youtu.be/WQzDcK9ZFY4   Or, take a look at “Fired Up: The Pottery of Abe Cohen.”  Abe was central to bringing pottery to Door County. https://jewishmuseummilwaukee.org/exhibits/abe-cohn/

Whatever you try, please don’t get caught up in making it perfect, “doing it right,” or judging the work. Just produce a moment that leads to a smile, a fresh thought, or maybe even an inner discovery. Who knows what will blossom!  I would love to hear what you created and how these activities are nourishing your soul.  I welcome your email: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

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

Dana

 

  • May 15, 2020

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 this week’s “Touch Points” I will be focusing on the importance of finding balance and calm during stress and uncertainty.  

If we are completely honest with our feelings, each of us has some degree of uncertainty, fear and stress. We are in the middle of an unprecedented event. So, it is not surprising that this challenging time has created a host of factors to increase our vulnerability and worry. But, making intentional choices can help move us from a place of worry, to a calmer, more centered feeling. I’m not saying that your personal “meshegas” (the Yiddish word for craziness or eccentricities) will disappear, but let me try to help you find more productive habits to increase a sense of calm. Some of these ideas will resonate with you, and others…not so much…  So, just try one or two things consistently, and I bet you will see a positive change.

In addition, I am thinking of all the families that are at home right now caring for someone they love. Perhaps that person has memory loss or dementia. My heart is with you as you manage during this challenging situation. Besides doing your best to care for your loved-one, it is particularly important that you remember to care for yourself. I hope some of the ideas help manage the stress. Please be mindful of your own health and balance; you are precious to your loved-one and to us.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” (-Unknown)

Here are some ways to help find balance in your day:

  1. Breathe Deeply– When we get stressed or worried, we activate the sympathetic nervous system that is associated with the flight-or-fight response. In other words, when we are worried, we speed up our breath, and our brain thinks we are in danger (this is the flight-or-fight response). Then, our body can feel panicky and fearful. But, if we slow down our breath, intentionally, and breathe from our diaphragm, we can feel calmer. Our brain will, then, think things are fine. So, next time you are worried, focus on your breath and breathe deeply from your diaphragm.
  2. Repeat a Mantra– Okay, please stop rolling your eyes! I know this might be a little more “hocus-pocus” than you are used to, but, give it a chance. I swear, it really works. A mantra is just a fancy word to describe repeating a calming word or phrase. People use this in meditation all the time. But, you don’t have to commit to a full meditation to reap the benefits of a mantra. A mantra can help you find balance and improve your mood. For example, this Jewish girl often repeats the Hebrew word, “Shalom”, which means peace. I also say “This, too, shall pass.” Some other mantra ideas are: “Today I act with kindness toward myself.”  “I am making healthy choices.” “I am strong.” “Things will get better.” Please use whatever phrase is meaningful to you.
  3. Take a Self-Compassion Pause– This is a therapeutic mindfulness technique that can decrease your anxiety by thinking/saying supportive thoughts. Use these steps to try this practice:  Be aware of what you are feeling, pause, acknowledge that other people feel this way too, tell yourself that you love and accept yourself, and then breathe. This is a type of self-kindness that can bring compassion and love to yourself. This is particularly helpful for someone that hears negative self-talk.
  4. Stay Away From the “What If’s”– Thinking about, “what if this happens, or this occurs” can send our brain into panic. We don’t know the future, so thinking about “what if” will increase fear.  Instead, keep in mind what you do know now, and be safe and prepared. This type of thought will help you make good decisions and stay calm.
  5. Improve Your Sleep Habits– Due to worry or stress, many of us may not be sleeping well. Sleep deprivation is detrimental to maintaining balance. Good sleep can help our immune system, cognitive function and memory, and plays an important role in our mental health. You can improve your sleep with these positive changes like:  structure your evening with a bedtime schedule, find a relaxing bedtime routine, eliminate screen time one hour before bed, and avoid caffeine or alcohol. Sweet dreams!
  6. Nourish Yourself with a Relaxing Experience– Bring your mind into the present moment and lower your stress level with a relaxing practice. Plan a spa day at home complete with a heavenly bath and soft candles. You may also enjoy trying a homemade facemask, a relaxing foot soak or just a cup of tea. Or, just listen to soothing music while you sit in the sun. Everyone likes a little pampering and relaxation!
  7. Check out The Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s “Conversation Starters: Mindful Practice with Susan Lubar, President and Founder of Growing Minds.” Click to listen to a unique conversation about the importance of mindfulness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYC-XHrTdEU&list=PLl-OCNr_mRXSDXZtovY5b_n01EjNug5cO&index=3&t=5s

I would love to hear what you did to find more balance and calm. I am here for you and happy to help. Please email me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

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

Dana

  • May 15, 2020

Touch Points – A Spark of Light with Dana

Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the Adult Day Services Social Worker has found a creative way to communicate with residents and families through her “Touch Points- A Spark of Light with Dana” emails. This beautiful and meaningful connection offers support and light through this uncertain time. We are excited to share with you.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” (Oprah Winfrey)

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. 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 this week’s “Touch Points” email I will be focusing on the importance of cultivating gratitude, how gratitude has the ability to make us happier and healthier, and sharing activities to try at home. There is social science research that shows how giving thanks and practicing gratitude can help us in many ways!  For example, gratitude can increase our sense of balance and calm, enhance optimism, help us cope with stress, and improve our physical well-being too!

Sometimes, feeling a sense of gratitude is easy, and in more challenging times, like now, we may need to search for this optimistic outlook. But, all of us have something to be thankful for!  So, let’s find a variety of ways to count our blessings; my favorite ideas are listed below. Although you may not connect with all of them, I would be GRATEFUL (Ha, ha ha…) if you tried at least one idea.

Ways to cultivate the habit of grateful thinking:

  1. Start by paying attention and being mindful of your daily blessings. Be aware of little things each day that you are grateful for. There are easier things that might come to mind, so challenge yourself to find one new appreciation each day. There is nothing too small to be grateful for. For example, I was grateful that we had oatmeal and brown sugar in the house; that is exactly what I wanted to eat!
  2. Make the practice of gratitude social– Try to think about another person and why you are grateful for him/her. What has that person said or done to enrich your life or make it easier? Then, if you are able, share these warm feelings with the person.  You might talk about your appreciation during a meal, facetime call, phone call or a letter. This moment can facilitate a beautiful, loving connection.
  3. Find gratitude even during the challenging times. I think a pandemic certainly counts as a challenge! Don’t you?! So, even now, try to be aware of what you are grateful for. Daily, I am grateful for snuggles from my tiny, old dog, Maggie. What are you grateful for?
  4. Keep a daily gratitude journal or list– 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. Once you have a few entries, enjoy spending a few moments reading them. I guarantee you will smile.
  5. Say grace after meals.- In Judaism, we say “Birkat Hamazon” to give thanks to G-d for our food and for the nourishment. Let us also give thanks to people working in grocery stores, for the people delivering our food, and for those making meals. We are all so blessed to have a full belly. AMEN!
  6. Take a gratitude stroll– Go for a walk and notice all the things you are grateful for. It is healthy for us to get out of the house, even for a little while. If you can, take a walk, and if it’s too difficult, then sit outside. Use all your senses. Feel the sun on your face, feel the wind in your hair, hear the birds chirping, and smell the flowers that are just starting to bloom. What a glorious experience; savor this moment.
  7. Try a gratitude breathing exercise– Before we start, think of one or two things you are grateful for and keep them in your mind. Get comfortable in a comfy chair with arms and close your eyes. Put your hand on your heart, and be mindful of the moment. As you breathe in through your nose, think about a moment in your life you are deeply grateful for or something you cherish. Hold it for a few seconds, breathe it in, and feel it. Then breathe out through your mouth. Try this a few times and feel the grace in this moment. (Only do the exercise two times so you don’t feel light-headed.)

I would love to hear what you enjoyed, and what exercises you are incorporating into your life. How have you and your loved one felt more optimism and light?  My email is:  DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Gratitude is a powerful tool that allows our hearts to link to others in love and in peace. Thank you for adding beauty and meaning in my world. I am grateful.

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

Dana

 

  • May 15, 2020

Light and Art Collaboration

Ovation rolls out pilot community outreach program in conjunction with local synagogues

Two of the top issues facing seniors in our community today are social isolation and brain health. Recent studies have found that the current
emphasis on living independently at home longer, while it has many benefits, may unintentionally create higher levels of isolation. Feelings of loneliness may be linked to poor cognitive performance and can increase the risk of dementia.

To help address this complex issue, Ovation Communities is rolling out a pilot community outreach program generously supported by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation focused on proactive brain health, stigma reduction, and combating the negative effects of isolation and loneliness. Light and Art Collaboration is a three-pronged approach including education, creative art experiences, and the celebration of life connections and stories.

“The cycle of isolation, depression and memory loss can be a heavy burden for many older adults in our community,” said Dawn Adler, director of Adult Day Center & ReCharge!. “We wanted to reach out in a meaningful way to ensure people feel supported along their journey and help reduce the stigma.”

As the heart of the Jewish community, synagogues are a natural partner for Light and Art Collaboration. The first partner for the program is Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid. The initiative starts with an interactive lecture, Get Proactive with Brain Health. Like any other organ, the brain can be impacted as we age, and there are things people can do to compensate and address challenges. The second component is a Legacy Lights workshop conducted by Dr. David Moss, the founder of The Illumignossi Project, exploring the core Jewish values of legacy and light-spreading through lamp making. Finally, artist Angela Belter, creator of Project Hue, partners with synagogue members to
create paintings translating their life stories into artwork. A congregation-wide celebration ceremony culminates the project.

“We hope that developing deeper relationships with area synagogues will give a face to our organization and raise awareness for the resources we can provide,” said Dana Rubin-Winkelman, Ovation Chai Point Social Worker. “By connecting early, people may have a better understanding of where and how to start looking for help when they, or someone they love, needs it.”

The pilot program is just one of the many offerings provided by Ovation’s growing Adult Day Services division. Over the past 5 years, the Adult Day Center has expanded its services from meeting the needs of 11 families to over 100 through a myriad of programs.

For more information about Adult Day Services, call Dawn Adler 414-277-8838 or Dana Rubin-Winkelman 414-721-9249.

  • April 24, 2020

Surlow Award Winners

The Maurice S. Surlow Award for Employee excellence was established in 2000 and made possible at the direction of his extended family, including Jim, Bob and Burt Zucker. Mr. Surlow was born in Hungary and immigrated with his family to Milwaukee in the early part of
the 20th Century.

At his passing in 1997, he left a major bequest to the Jewish Community Foundation of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. A portion of that bequest is annually directed to the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation. Originally working closely with Bob and now his daughter Debbie Zucker, a team of staff members who made special efforts to care for residents with the best customer service are selected. Ovation was proud to present this award to five outstanding employees in December: Destini Rawls of Ovation Chai Point, Jean Brown of Ovation Sarah Chudnow, and Kimberly Peace, Muslima Hassan and Beatrice Gray of Ovation Jewish Home.

Ovation Jewish Home: Kimberly Peace, Muslima Hassan, Beatrice Gray

Ovation Sarah Chudnow: Jean Brown

Ovation Chai Point: Destini Rawls-Keyes

  • April 23, 2020