COVID – 19 UPDATES

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Worried about aging in your own home?

Featured in Town Topics July 29, 2020 Edition – Senior Living Section

The majority of older adults prefer to “age in place” in the homes and communities they have lived in for most of their adult lives. But how do you know if remaining in your home continues to be a safe place?  What if family and friends are no longer nearby? In particular, the pandemic has brought more scrutiny to these concerns about staying safe in your home, when home is the safest place for seniors.

This is where the JFCS Geriatric Care Management team can step in to help. Our caring team of professionals can offer guidance, solutions, advocacy and a full spectrum of support for older adults. 

Begin with a comprehensive care consultation that assesses everything from home safety to reviewing which legal, medical and financial documents should be readily accessible.

Following your assessment, we can provide long-term assistance through Secure@Home, an aging-in-place, membership program. This non-sectarian program offers seniors the resources to remain independent, comfortable and safe in their homes for as long as they wish. Membership benefits include care management, 24/7 emergency phone availability, information & referral, transportation options, monthly hellos and more.

Want to learn more? Call 609-987-8100 or visit www.jfcsonline.org/senior-services

From Generation to Generation, Internship Experiences to Take With You

It was 20 years ago last fall when I first step foot into JFCS as a Senior Service intern. 

I did not know what to expect or what impact this experience would have on me.  Reflecting back, I can honestly say this intern experience changed my life. One of my favorite aspects of being Coordinator of Teen Programs is working with interns.

I cannot thank enough what Wendy Cacacie did for me 2 decades ago. She has taught me unforgettable social work lessons that I still use to this day. My goal is to instill a meaningful experience to my interns as Wendy has done for me.

I have worked with close to 50 student interns throughout the years and continue to be amazed by their creativity and outside the box thinking with special projects.

This summer, Dana, one of my interns served on a College Perspectives Panel and talked about her college and gap year experiences. Rachel, another student, assisted in creating content and resources for the Summer Teen Programming Series. Her fresh perspectives and ideas enhanced these leadership seminars. Grace, my third intern, also created content for this summer’s programming series. She will also be helping with the Challah Bake through Challah for Hunger, a student run organization at the Center for Jewish Life at Princeton University.

These programs would not have been successful without the help and participation of these students. Working remotely has eliminated so many barriers of distance and transportation to connect with teens from all over the county. Working with Teen Programs is definitely a great filter to finding future interns.  Even though most of the students I work with have other interests, the skills learned during the internship are hard to be duplicated in other places. At JFCS, we teach our interns the ins and outs of our jobs, how to succeed in a non-profit environment, and how what we do fits into the overall agency and community as a whole. Interns walk away with an experience that they can discuss in any interview setting and transferrable work skills to include on their resume.

Celeste Albert, LCSW, Coordinator of Teen Programs

Meet Rachel!

The 2020 pandemic has had broad economic impact, so when approaching summer opportunities I knew it would be a challenge not only finding internships but also finding businesses with the bandwidth to take on interns in uncertain times. Internship opportunities for college students are very diverse, so gaining research and communication skills can be found in a range of work.

COVID-19 has shed new light on how people can transform their skills and knowledge into jobs or volunteer work that is not necessarily aligned with their career goals. In working with a nonprofit, I am gaining important skills that I will use for future intern opportunities and recognizing the benefit of being open to new experiences.

Zoom has become a common platform for communication, so even though we coult not talk or work on projects in person, weekly meetings were still comforting and informative. My weekly meetings kept me engaged in the work because it was a nice break to talk about the research instead of typing it all down in a shared document. Presenting your research to someone allows you to bounce their ideas off of yours and appreciate their satisfaction with the project that you share.

My research included mental health, educational inequalities and other politically and socially topical issues which kept me engaged in the work. I felt it was important to discuss these real world topic amongst peers to gain students’ perspectives.

In college, I study law, public policy and sociology, which all have similar themes and lessons taught within each department. As a research intern for JFCS, my projects varied, but one assignment that I found applicable to my course work focused on how students can be leaders in their communities. From organizing fundraisers, helping at a food pantry, or collecting backpacks for a school supply drive, we wanted to emphasize that students can easily be leaders and mentors in their community by inspiring others to complete acts of kindness. In my college studies, we often analyze lawyers, policymakers, local businesses, and other decision makers and how their collective acts of leadership and of kindness are inspiring others to change and do good in the world.

I am on a pre-law track in college, since I’ve always been intrigued by law school and the legal profession. Law school teaches students how to think, advocate, and analyze, and these skills can be applied to working at a law firm, a university, a hospital, or many other businesses. My internship work includes conducting research and planning lessons for the Zoom program participants. This work helped hone my research and presentation skills, skills I feel can always be practiced and improved, and skills that are critical to pursuing a legal profession.

Through my work with JFCS, I have gained awareness of the importance and impact of nonprofits in communities, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. This has inspired me to explore and reach out to other organizations to understand their mission and how people can support their work.

I have loved working with Celeste; her passion for each of the projects and assignments we’ve discussed makes her such a good leader and the students look up to her. I’ve lived in West Windsor for a long time, and have known of JFCS all my life, but contributing and volunteering with the JFCS team has been extremely rewarding. JFCS has accomplished so much with their food pantry, teen services, and counseling center, and I have been deeply impacted by this internship. I’ll always be thankful for this opportunity and the skills and connections I have found. I hope to remain involved with projects and volunteering in the future as part of JFCS.

Rachel Judson, Intern

Meet Grace!

I was originally supposed to go to Vienna for a summer class, but once that got cancelled, I was fortunate to have Princeton Hillel, Center for Jewish Life as a resource. The staff at CJL was able to connect me with JFCS for an internship opening.

This internship has exposed me to new websites and platforms and working with the unfamiliar technologies has been incredibly engaging. The work differs greatly from my studies, most often in literature and language, and allows me to explore new opportunities. Researching new topics has been exciting week after week.

I am not sure where my future plans will take me as I consider graduate work or moving into education. In any path I pursue, the experience with curriculum development, presentation, and connection with others will be valuable.

I had no idea the scope of social services in this community prior to this internship, and I am incredibly thankful to have learned more about the work done in Mercer County.

Grace Rosenberg, Intern

Meet Dana!

As a rising sophomore, yes I was extremely concerned about having limited opportunities due to the virus. All of my original plans for the summer consisted of physical work, so it was difficult for me to imagine the translation into a remote environment. Additionally, the ongoing challenges of the virus amde it difficult to imagine that summer interns would be a priority.

I have found that there are primarily two elements that have made the internship engaging: communication and meaningful work. Meeting with Celeste every week to plan and discuss ideas has been instrumental in helping me set goals and decide what work must be done. Week after week, the meaningful work that keeps me engaged.

From panel discussions to fundraising, all of the work that JFCS does is important, both for the development of the individual and the larger community. Recalling this as I work remotely motivates me, and contributes to my devotion to the projects. As a STEM major, my internship experience may not relate directly to my course work, but it does resonate with the values that are stressed by the community. Mentoring, volunteering, and service are the cornerstone of Princeton, and are taught in every discipline. My internship this summer plays on this message of service to the community.

After graduation, I intend to enter the medical or healthcare field. I am extremely thankful, as I know that everything that I have learned this summer will be applicable. Fundraising for causes, working with teenagers, or even simply planning events are all skills I have developed this summer and will continue to develop after I graduate and enter the professional sphere.  To date, the most impactful experience I have had through this position was preparing to speak to high school juniors and seniors on a panel. I remember how challenging the college process was for myself, and I can only imagine how much more stressful it must be now. I am thankful for the opportunity to speak with younger students and try to advise them the best way that I can. 

Dana Waitman, Intern

Internships: Adapting Opportunities For a Pandemic

JFCS has always prided itself on providing a variety of internship experiences to high school, college and graduate school students. The ability to offer educational opportunities is an important part of our mission. We were particularly committed to continuing this practice during COVID-19. Through a combination of creativity and flexibility, students are participating, on a modified basis, in the agency’s existing programs and services. As a result, they have gained an additional perspective on how agencies must adapt their programs and respond to client needs during this pandemic. We are so appreciative to have such motivated and dedicated students interning at JFCS this summer.  

Beverly Mishkin, LCSW, Director of Case Management & Senior Services

Meet Samantha!

My name is Samantha Goldfarb, and I am serving as an intern at JFCS this summer as a part of The College of New Jersey’s Summer Community Leaders program.

The summer is only halfway through and I have already recognized personal growth achieved through my new experiences. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited my scope of work, specifically face-to-face interactions with clients; yet, I have still been able to catch glimpses of the great community JFCS serves, from the friendliness of the Kosher Café attendees to the kind and good humored JFCS staff. Moments that have had the greatest impact include the look on our clients’ faces when they receive a bag of food and the excitement of community partners with whom we work to expand our outreach. If our community is this lively and connected now, I can only imagine how wonderful it is without social and spatial restrictions!

Where the altered programming has changed what I originally expected from an internship experience, I have also found it has afforded me unique opportunities I would not have had in a traditional internship placement. For example, I now have the opportunity to provide hands-on service work during a crisis while observing how a model organization can address the growing needs of its clients amid challenge and disorder.

My educational background is on disability rights and advocacy whereas the internship focuses on food security, nevertheless, my goal is to run a non-profit like JFCS one day, and any organization will have to be prepared to withstand any and all disasters that come its way. In this respect this modified internship is teaching me a lot about professional adaptability and how to best address problems as they arise. No organization could have been fully prepared for the demands of the pandemic, but this internship has shown me how a combination of flexible practices and a commitment to problem-solving allows an agency to stay on its feet and keep serving effectively.

I have seen the importance of helping employees connect with one another even if they have to be physically separated. I have seen an agency maintain its scope of service and level of impact by adapting programs to work within new limitations and focusing on building connections with other agencies to pool community resources.

While I regret missing out on some aspects of traditional service, I am very grateful for JFCS for teaching and modeling good practices for my work for years to come – and for still finding ways to sneak in moments with the community that make service so rewarding in the first place.

Samantha Goldfarb, Intern

How will YOU serve your summer?

Now more than ever, there is a need for people to give back to others and community non-profits. It can sometimes be challenging and overwhelming to start. A lot of thoughts can go through your head. I am not familiar with local organizations in my community. Who do I help? How? Can my children and teens get involved? Here are some great tips to begin a meaningful summer of service.

Tip 1 Pick a cause, any cause…

There are many great ways to give back to your community.  It might be helpful to find out what causes speak to you and decide how you want to make a difference.  Here is a sample of causes to choose:

Older adults
Children/teens
Hunger
Education
Environment
Homelessness
Special needs
Advocacy
Veterans

Bullying
Animals
Domestic violence
Diversity
Poverty
Disabilities
Mental Health
Awareness

Tip 2 Decide which project you would like to conduct…

Are you interested in giving back virtually, collecting and donating items for others, hands-on community service or raising funds for non-profits?

Virtual Opportunities

With the advancement of technology, virtual community service experiences have gained popularity and you do not need to leave your house. 

Collections/Drives

Maybe you’ve been inspired to clean out unused items in your home.  Community organizations are collecting items for people in need.  Contact local social service agencies or visit their websites to see what items they are accepting.  You can also reach out to your network and let them know you are collecting items such as food, school supplies, paper products, feminine hygiene products or baby and children supplies.  An Amazon.com wish list is also another great and easy way to collect items in a contactless way.  Remember, before you collect, ask your selected agency about any specific needs or requirements for products they are currently accepting.

Hands-on Community Service Projects

 The best way to find out about these opportunities are to visit an agency’s website, contact the volunteer coordinator and follow non-profits on social media.  Due to COVID-19, these in-person opportunities can be limited, so check with the agency to see what opportunities are available.

Fundraisers
Fundraisers are another great way to support a non-profit organization while bringing awareness of the services they provide to your community. Here are some great fundraising ideas to include others in your mitzvah:

Bake sale
Bike ride
Book sale
Bowl-a-thon
Car wash
Dog walk
Dress down day at work
Garage sale
Golf tournament
Karaoke night
Lemonade Stand
Pancake breakfast
Zumbathon
Instead of hosting a party, ask for donations in honor of a milestone celebration – bar or bat mitzvah, birthday and/or anniversary

Tip 3 Seek resources to continue brainstorming ideas of fun and meaningful projects.

JFCS will be hosting two virtual service opportunities for teens in grades 6-12.

  • Sunday, July 26th, 1 PM – Come learn about school supply needs in our community and ways you can help others start the school year off right.
  • Sunday, August 9th, 1 PM – Create your own challah at home with Challah for Hunger at Princeton. Learn about food insecurity and the community organizations who are working to address it.

These programs are open to the community.  Registration is required, click to sign up now!

For more information, contact Celeste Albert at celestea@jfcsonline.org.

To learn more about other service project ideas, visit:

Good Deeds Day

Areyvut

Chai Mitzvah

Celeste Albert, LCSW (Teen Program Coordinator) & Dana Waitman (Intern)

Crafting a Calming Jar – For kids of all ages!

Sometimes when we experience big emotions like worry, anger, frustration, overwhelm or sadness, we can get stuck in our thoughts and feelings. We may feel disconnected from our environment, from our bodies and from the present moment. When these big emotions seem to overwhelm us, we can help to ease them by coming back into our bodies and the moment by noticing sensations through sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.

These magical glitter jars are the perfect sensory toy for children and grown ups alike. Designed to soothe and relax, the swirling patterns created by glitter, water and optional additions are ideal for calming down a stressed out child (or adult, for that matter) – leading to their alternative name, ‘calm down jars’.

Crafting a personal glitter jar is a fun project to engage in and the result is a tool that can be used again and again.

Ingredients for Calming or Sensory Jars

  • Plastic or glass bottle or jar
  • Warm water
  • Glitter

 Optional (use whatever you have around):

  • Glitter glue
  • Vegetable oil
  • Clear liquid soap
  • Baby oil
  • Sequins
  • Watercolor or food coloring

Directions:

The main ingredients that are needed are the glitter, warm water and a bottle or jar of some material. Plastic bottles may be better for younger kiddos. The optional ingredients change up the movement of the sensory experience. 

To begin, fill the jar halfway with warm water. The warm water makes the combining of the ingredients easier. Next, place several tablespoons of your chosen glitter into the jar or bottle. Using a funnel can help with getting the glitter into a smaller opening. Put on the lid and shake until blended. Don’t be worried if this takes several minutes and keep on vigorously shaking. Once blended, fill the jar with warm water until full. If you’d like, you can super glue the lid or cap shut.

Adding additional emulsifiers like oil, glue or soap, can slow the movement of the glitter or create a lava lamp effect. Adding sequins, small toys, seashells or food coloring can enhance the look of the calming jar.

When your jar is complete, just give them a good shake, then watch until the glitter settles in the bottom of the jar to refocus and refresh an overwhelmed mind.

Julie Bond, LAMFT

What is teletherapy?

Telehealth meets Mental Health during a Pandemic

While teletherapy is not new, recent policy changes due to COVID-19 have reduced previous barriers and promoted access to virtual services. Offering teletherapy is consistent with JFCS’ values of keeping everyone as safe as possible while this pandemic continues. Teletherapy gives you the option to communicate with a therapist on the telephone or video chat; you chose how your therapy works, the goal is to make it agreeable to your needs. When comparing virtual therapy with office visits, more than 63% of clients reported no difference in the overall quality of the service, according to a study published in January of 2019 in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Similar to traditional therapy, teletherapy with a counselor can support you with a range of issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, trauma or chronic stress. Zoom, Doxy and Facetime are examples of platforms being used by healthcare providers across the country.

As a result of teletherapy, therapists have been welcomed into the client’s home, introduced to family members and their beloved pets. Adult clients report virtual sessions provide them with flexibility, making it easier to maintain appointments while being in the comfort of their homes. Clients have said that it is easier for them to open up, be vulnerable and talk about difficult issues when in their personal, comfortable environments. Children today are comfortable with technology which makes teletherapy very natural for younger clients.

Interventions are creative with hands on activities and interactive games. According to a 2012 Marketing Chart survey, 42% of teens are more comfortable sharing information and are even more open online than in person. American Well (Amwell) reported in 2017, that experiencing therapy inside the comfort of the home setting normalizes mental health care, and is especially useful for the generations of people who are accustomed to interacting with others online.

Here are a few suggestions to prepare for a teletherapy (phone or video) session:

  •  Make sure you are in a private space with no distractions
  •  Jot down questions prior to the session
  •  Keep paper and a pen close by so you can take notes
  •  Make sure you have good cell and/or internet connections

Teletherapy, either by telephone or video chat, is providing a crucial lifeline during this pandemic and JFCS is here to support you. If you are feeling a sense of loss, stress, sadness, relationship or parenting issues, please call 609-987-8100 to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed therapists.

Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC (Director of Clinical Services)

Summer Heat Safety for Seniors

With summer in full swing and the pandemic limiting the number of cool places people can retreat to, it is extra important to review the essentials of summer heat safety. These tips are good for everyone to keep in mind, but are tailored specifically for seniors whose additional needs are not always included in traditional heat safety reminders.

  • Keep cool. Rest in the middle of the day when it’s hottest and do chores and yardwork in the early mornings or evenings. If you do not have air conditioning, close your blinds or curtains during the day to block excess sun from heating your home.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, sports drinks or juices as well as eating fruits and vegetables. Don’t only drink when you feel thirsty – this means you’re already on the road to dehydration, and many seniors experience a diminished sense of thirst that can keep them from always knowing when they need a drink. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake as well in order to avoid their dehydrating (diuretic) effects.
  • Check your medications for side effects that may emerge in the summer.
    • Diuretics (prescribed for conditions like glaucoma, high blood pressure, and edema) and laxatives cause you to lose fluids and become dehydrated faster.
    • NSAIDs, some antibiotics and sulfonlyureas (prescribed for diabetes management) can cause rashes where your skin is exposed to the sun.
    • Antipsychotics (prescribed for psychiatric management or sleep) can dull internal senses and prevent you from knowing if your body is getting too hot.
    • Anticholinergics (prescribed for COPD, incontinence, gastrointestinal disorders, and allergies/asthma) can cause you to sweat less, preventing your body from cooling itself.
    • Beta blockers cause slower heartbeats, which can get in the way of your body’s ability to respond to heat stress.
  • The risk for heat-related illness increases with age and is even greater for those with health conditions such as heart and circulatory system problems, lung or kidney disease, infections, and those who are highly under- or overweight. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions to stay safe this summer.
  • Consider wearing a call button in case of emergencies. While some may find the idea uncomfortable, erring on the side of caution is a key part of summer safety. Another option is agreeing with a friend to check in with a phone call once a day.
  • Know how it feels to have different heat-related illnesses and what you should do about them.
    • Heat exhaustion: Occurs when your body is struggling to maintain your normal temperature because of the increased heat outside. If your body can’t release the heat faster than it accepts it, your core temperature will begin to rise. This situation is dangerous to your health and requires immediate action.
      • Symptoms include dizziness/feeling faint, loss of consciousness, excessive sweating, weak heartbeat, nausea/vomiting, muscle cramps, headache, pale and cool skin, and a temperature higher than your baseline but lower than 103°.
      • To treat, start by moving to a cool place and drink water slowly. When you feel well enough, take a cool (not hot or cold) shower or bath, or place cool, damp cloths on your neck, armpits, groin and forehead. Get help if your symptoms do not improve after an hour, you vomit or lose consciousness or are concerned that you will.
    • Heat stroke: your body has exhausted all methods of cooling itself down, and your temperature is dangerously high. The situation is extremely dangerous and requires emergency medical treatment.
      • Symptoms include dizziness/feeling faint, loss of consciousness, no sweating, rapid and strong heartbeat, nausea/vomiting, headache, skin that’s hot, red and dry, and a temperature above 103°.
      • If you get heatstroke it’s unlikely you’ll be well enough to treat yourself, which is why it’s so important to pay attention to how you feel before the situation becomes dangerous. To treat someone else with heatstroke, call 911 immediately – the longer a person has heatstroke, the more likely they will not recover or will have lasting damage to their body when they do. While you wait, follow the dispatcher’s instructions, which will most likely be to bring the person to a cool place and place cool, damp cloths on their armpits, neck, groin and forehead. Do not attempt to give them anything to drink, especially if they are confused or unconscious; the person may accidentally breathe in the fluid (aspiration) which is also extremely dangerous. Medical professionals will rehydrate the person themselves using IV fluids.

Samantha Goldfarb, Intern

Anxiety and Re-Opening during COVID-19

Readjusting to life during a global pandemic was difficult enough; now as businesses, dining and entertainments spaces reopen across Mercer County and NJ, moving though the different stages to reopen safely adds new stressors to our lives.

Thoughts you may be having, emotions you may be feeling, and answers you may be searching for…

What is the right decision for my family and myself?

My friends are comfortable, why aren’t I?

I feel ready to reenter but, my friends don’t, am I making the right choice?

If I rejoin society will I be putting my elderly parents at risk?

I am scared to reenter!

I feel stressed about what decision I should make!

My thoughts are going a mile a minute!

The truth is there is no right or wrong answer. This decision is an individualized choice. No one can tell you how you should feel or act. Everyone has different comfort levels and that is okay. It is important to not compare our self to others.

Be kind and have patience with yourself. Go at your own pace. Take some therapeutic deep breaths.  Stay hydrated and maintain balance with your nutrition. If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping due to the many thought you are having listen to a guided sleep meditation.

If your anxiety seems to be too challenging to manage on your own please, please contact a professional for support. JFCS is offering daily Drop-In hours if you need a one-time consultation with one of our counselors. We are also accepting new clients for ongoing counseling, currently provided through teletherapy. Call us at 609-987-8100.

Mara Myerson, LCSW, LCADC

Teen Summer Series

Where remote learning offered new challenges for all students, the upcoming summer, without the expected activities and opportunities to gather, is filled with new obstacles. JFCS is proud to be offering a TEEN SUMMER SERIES including service, engagement and development opportunities for youth and teens. All sessions are open to any youth or teen interested in attending, teens can sign up for all, some or one of the sessions per their needs and preference.

MUST REGISTER IN ADVANCE, CLICK TO REGISTER NOW!

College & Career: For Grades 11+ Career Exploration Workshop Tuesday July 7, 7 PM

If you don’t know what to do with your major, or are unsure what to study, join us!

Summer Serve: For Grades 6-12 How Will You Serve? Sunday July 12, 1 PM

Discover ways to customize your summer service experience.

College & Career: For Grades 11+ College Perspectives Monday July 20, 7 PM

A panel of college students discuss their experiences after high school.

Summer Serve: For Grades 6-12 School Supplies Drive Sunday July 26, 1 PM

Kick off event for annual school supply drive, learn about needs in our community.

College & Career: For Grades 11+ Promoting Yourself & Your Skill Set Monday Aug 3, 7 PM

An interactive workshop to build your resume and develop talking points.

Summer Serve: For Grades 6-12 Challah Bake Sunday Aug 9, 1 PM

Create your own challah at home for Challah for Hunger.

Are your aging loved ones safe at home?

A recent article from AARP* told the story of a 70 year old woman, who had a medical emergency while out of town. According to the article, it required an “array of often-confusing calls and wide outreach to friends and neighbors that left her feeling vulnerable and terrified.” The article continues by outlining important steps to take if this should happen to you.

It is very helpful advice if you are physically and mentally capable of advocating for yourself, or if you have a concerns about an aging loved one who wants to remain in their home. Whether or not you are, the Secure@Home program can be an invaluable resource. Secure@Home is an aging-in-place program staffed by clinical social workers/geriatric care managers.

As a member of the program, if you do not have family or friends who could intervene on your behalf, you can list a Secure@Home care manager as your primary emergency contact. Though we do not make medical decisions for you, as a member, we would know who your medical care proxy is and how to reach them. We would have a list of your medications, physicians and additional emergency contacts. We would also have your advance directive on file and could transmit it to wherever you were hospitalized, and coordinate your follow up care with the hospital social worker. The Secure@Home program will follow you wherever you are.

We have received calls from people who are traveling and find themselves in a hospital. Sometimes their travel buddy or spouse calls us to find out what medications they are taking. And of course, when you are home, we will step in and manage your care locally. One of the AARP article recommendations was to “find a geriatric care manager” – and here we are! 

Andrea Gaynor, LCSW Geriatric Care Manager