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 Touch Points e-newsletter will cover two timely subjects- voting and sleep. I hope the topics resonate with you and provide needed information and inspiration!
DO YOUR PART AND VOTE!
Time is running out to have your vote counted! Your vote is your voice; let your voice be heard! Election Day is Tuesday, November 3.
Voting and Transportation Information:
- At this time, experts are urging voters to drop off mailed ballots ASAP! -Use an official ballot drop-off box or a clerk’s office. Please follow the voting instruction sheet carefully.
- The ballots must arrive by Election Day- November 3 by 8pm to count! (Supreme Court ruled this week.) Please do NOT mail your ballot- it will not get there in time.
- Click here to find out voter information, polling place, approved forms of ID needed, and where to drop off your ballot. https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/
- You can still register to vote at early voting locations through October 30, or register in person on Election Day.
- Don’t forget to bring a valid photo ID to vote and proof of residence if you are registering. For details check above website.
- Need transportation? – The Milwaukee Department on Aging is offering seniors age 60+ a free ride to the polls, or to the DMV if you need a photo ID. (They report that their drivers wear a mask and riders need to wear a mask too. The van is sanitized. Often, seniors will likely have the entire vehicle to themselves.) Please call a few days ahead of time. Call: 414-289-6874
- Not a senior and in need of transportation? – A group called Souls to the Polls offers Free rides to the polls!- Call 414-246-1823 to reserve Uber and Lyft. Available now until November 3 (8am-6pm weekdays, and 10am-3pm weekends). Early voting sites also listed on website. Souls to the Polls is “an organization that unites ministers and their congregations in Milwaukee’s central city to strengthen the voting power of the Black community. An alliance of churches committed to building an army of 100,000 voters!” https://soulstothepollsmke.org/
“The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. People fought for it, bled for it, died for it. Honor their sacrifice. Vote.” (-John Lewis)
OVERCOMING SLEEP DIFFICULTIES:
These days, many of us have worries and uncertainties that preoccupy our thoughts and may affect the quality of our sleep. I hear about sleeplessness from friends, learn about enervation from caregivers, and even read postings on Facebook about exhaustion. People are fatigued- in mind and body. Concerns about the election, staying healthy, and even paying bills plague our thoughts. How do we turn off the “noise” and find the mental relaxation needed for a good night of sleep?
In addition, I am always thinking about my friends that are caring for a loved one with memory loss. Daylight Savings Time ends this Sunday, November 1st. When we turn our clocks back, our internal clocks are affected by the changes in natural light. This can be especially difficult for individuals with dementia and may increase “sundowning behavior” (confusion and agitation). The change can also affect sleep cycles. I hope that using some of the strategies (listed below) will help caregivers feel more prepared.
In addition, I will provide suggestions to overcome sleep challenges and to improve the quality of your sleep. However, if, after trying the ideas below, you (or someone you love) continue to have sleep issues, please consult your physician. Sleeping is critical to good health.
- Transform your room into a sleep sanctuary- Prepare a restful, calm space. Create a clutter-free space by keeping personal items out of sight, and placing papers in a drawer or cabinet. Less clutter, will decrease the disorder in your mind. Edit your bedside table with a minimalist look including a lamp, reading material, and a clock. In addition, a darker bedroom can also enhance sleep; choose window coverings accordingly. Even a street lamp or a glow from a neighbor’s home may interfere with sleep. However, safety first! -Please keep a nightlight on if you are concerned with balance, tripping or falling. Finally, choose a pillow that provides good head and neck support. Sleeping with an old or a hard pillow can lead to shoulder and neck pain. In addition, change the weight of blanket based on the weather/season.
- Start a bedtime ritual- “I’m so good at sleeping I can do it with my eyes closed.”(-Sleep Enlightened Blog) Set the stage for relaxation and sleep by planning an easy nighttime routine. Start to wind down one to two hours before bedtime. We have heard it before, but it is important turn off your phone, tablet, computer and TV. Better still, ditch them completely and keep them all out of your bedroom. The electronics emit a blue light that suppresses the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin- making sleep difficult. Instead, turn your bedroom light low; this signals your brain that it is time for bed, and read a book or magazine. In addition, adding a warm bath or listening to comforting music create a pleasant way to wind down and prepare for slumber. Music is remarkable and can lower blood pressure and heart rate. The National Sleep Foundation recommends choosing songs with 60 to 80 beats per minute. We all find different music and sounds pleasing, so here are a variety to soothe your soul.
- This is one of my favorites. Enjoy the song, “Come Away with Me” by the beautiful Norah Jones. Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvLDrx3YQ4Q
- Enjoy Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy, played by Stephen Malinowski (with a graphical score) (5 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlvUepMa31o
- Here is 8 hours (holy cow!) of relaxing ocean waves for sleeping. You could leave this on in the background to lull you to sleep. (Full disclosure- I did not listen to the entire thing!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwzbkaqT8Ow
- Let go of worry and change your mindset- It is normal to have things on your mind. The trick is to be mindful, and let go of the worry. Then, you can clear your mind for a peaceful night of sleep. Try this practice:
- Keep your brain and body zooming during the day, and not at night. Plan to pay bills, think about work, exercise, and check emails in the morning or afternoon. If something is really occupying your thoughts, try designating a “five-ten minute worry time” during the day (but not in your bedroom). Allowing yourself some quiet time to ponder, may help contain distressing thoughts; you might even find a good solution! Additionally, before bed, place a journal on your nightstand table, and jot down any remaining thoughts. The thoughts are better in the journal, then in your head! Breathe deeply, and let go of the things you need to do. By creating a list, you can clear your mind. (It will be there for you tomorrow.)
- Feeling gratitude can reduce stress. So, before bed, think of 3 things you are grateful for. This will increase your happiness, appreciation and reduce anxiety. On a challenging day, however, it might be hard to come up with a grateful idea. So, let me help get you started. When you have a day like that (we all do!), simply be grateful for the cold side of your pillow. Think about the cool, satisfying feeling around your head. Who knows… sometimes one idea “mushrooms” into another. For example, the cool pillow might remind you of how lovely your entire room feels, and that might make you grateful for the warmth of your home. Let your gratitude grow. “Be happy not because everything is good, but because you can see the good side of everything.”(-twitter.com)
- Being prepared and planning ahead: sleep changes and loved ones with dementia– Many people with dementia have sleep changes. Sometimes, daytime napping and confusion or fear can lead to sleep disturbances at night. As we turn our clocks back with Daylight Savings Time, there may be additional agitation. The change in routine and in natural light can impact your loved one. However, being aware and planning ahead will allow you to be a calmer care partner. If you feel stuck, please know you can always call or email me. It would be my pleasure to help. Truly. Here are some tips:
- Keep your home well-lit (until the bedtime routine begins) and limit daytime napping if up frequently at night.
- Plan an easy evening activity, and keep the atmosphere light.
- Play your loved-one’s favorite, calming music.
- Keep a small light in room if shadows or darkness increase fearfulness.
- Sit with the person to reassure and present a calm presence.
- Check if the room is too warm or cool.
- Try a sleep themed, brain health activity – There are many phrases and songs which contain the word sleep or dream such as “sleep tight.” Try naming 15.
I hope some of the suggestions will increase your relaxation and support a better quality of sleep. When you wake, you will feel more energetic and clear-minded. …So, what are you waiting for? Sweet dreams everyone!
As always, I am here for you, and would love to hear what worked, or other suggestions. Email me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org
Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,