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,