Urban Zen: Caring For Others By Caring For Yourself
Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter / Urban Zen: Caring For Others By Caring For Yourself

Urban Zen: Caring For Others By Caring For Yourself

Feb 20, 2015

For the Jewish Home, helping to maintain employee health and wellness is a priority. This encompasses wellness of the body, mind, and spirit. Urban Zen, a program recently added to the many healthy activities offered by the Home for employees, is quickly gaining popularity.

Urban Zen was created by visionary designer Donna Karan. As her husband, Stephen, battled lung cancer, he was very aware that his caregivers — doctors, nurses, other medical staff, and family members — seemed to be even more stressed than he was. He asked Donna to do something for caregivers. "The hope was that, by helping caregivers, it would create a ripple effect that would benefit patients as well," explains Susan Jefferson, a certified Urban Zen therapist at YogaWorks and facilitator of sessions at the Jewish Home. "Seeing your caregiver crumble can create a great deal of stress in someone who is ill."

Stephen's request led to the conceptualization of Urban Zen, a holistic healthcare practice created to give people another option for treating pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation, and exhaustion. This practice combines five techniques — yoga, Reiki, essential oils, nutrition and contemplative care, such as meditation — and is often used as a supplement to conventional care. Urban Zen uses movement, reflection, visualization, and sensory stimulation as tools to help participants achieve a state of Zen, or calmness.

Urban Zen incorporates some of the basics of yoga, in particular focus on breath and use of restorative movements. "As we begin each session, we evaluate three main components: the levels of pain, anxiety, and insomnia the employees may be dealing with at that time," says Susan. Based on need, essential oils are recommended to help alleviate those problems, followed by some gentle movements and a body scan, which helps you to become more mindful of your body and how it feels.

The benefits of Urban Zen can be experienced at any age. "Everyone's body, whether young or old, recuperates and restores better when there is balance between the body, mind, and spirit," Susan explains. "Healthcare workers put the concerns of others first, often without taking time to focus on their own needs." Urban Zen can provide the time, space, and tools to slow down and look inside.

Sharon Ginchansky, vice president of human resources, explains why it was important to bring Urban Zen to the Home's employees: "We want to help our employees be healthy and happy. A big part of promoting employee wellness is lessening their stress levels, and Urban Zen is an excellent way to do this." She adds, "Taking a few minutes out of our day to focus on our own well-being can help us recommit to the work at hand and bring a sense of inner peace. Urban Zen is a great de-stressing practice because it can be as simple as inhaling fragrant oil or focusing on breathing."

Through ongoing research surveys, people who participate in Urban Zen classes report greater relaxation, a renewed sense of peace and calm, reduction of aches and pains, clearer thinking, and better sleep and digestion. "The best part is you can take what you learn in a session and use the techniques on your own to help prevent symptoms from recurring," says Susan.

"Urban Zen provides a wonderful break from my work stressors," says Debbie Fishel, a regular member of the Grancell Village employee group. "The relaxation techniques I've learned help get me through the rest of the week." Dr. Rick Smith notes that sometimes it's difficult to make time to attend, "but I'm always glad I did."

Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

Jul 5

With 100 Years of Excellence in Senior Care, Los Angeles Jewish Home Transitions to New Name More Reflective of the Broad Spectrum of Senior Care Offerings Available to All

With a new name and continued focus on meeting diverse senior needs, Los Angeles Jewish Health meets seniors where they are in life, providing a customized senior experience. (RESEDA, CA – July 5, 2022) As it continues to build on more than a century of providing an array of high-quality residential living options and care for Southern California seniors, the Los Angeles Jewish Home is unveiling a new name: Los Angeles Jewish Health. The updated identity reflects Los Angeles Jewish Health’s commitment to offering area seniors a full complement of exceptional programs and services and a comprehensive continuum of care, whether that care is at home, in the community, or on one of their beautiful campus settings. “Over the years, as the needs of our community members have expanded and changed, we have evolved, too, expanding the scope of healthcare services we provide. It is now the right time to transition to a name more reflective of the vast array of senior care services and living options available through Los Angeles Jewish Health, while still remaining true to our mission and Jewish values,” said Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of Los Angeles Jewish Health. Los Angeles Jewish Health is a national leader in senior health and wellness. Established in 1912 in East Los Angeles to assist Jewish men seeking shelter, today Los Angeles Jewish Health cares for a diverse group of thousands of seniors each year through independent housing, adult day care, skilled nursing facilities, short-term rehabilitation, hospice services, and more. What began as a modest residential facility at the turn of the previous century has grown into a leading senior health system, providing for a rapidly growing elder population with a broad range of geriatric and specialty healthcare needs. By 2030, one in five Americans are projected to be older individuals. Seniors 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of this population and are expected to increase fivefold over the next 30 years, from four million in 2000 to 21 million in 2050.“Shifting demographics demand that we sharpen our focus to ensure we are an available senior care resource for every member of our community,” Surowitz said. “As we have for more than 100 years, we look forward to contributing Los Angeles Jewish Health’s extensive experience and medical expertise toward better health outcomes for all seniors.” About Los Angeles Jewish Health: Founded in 1912, and formerly known as the Los Angeles Jewish Home, the non-profit Los Angeles Jewish Health is the largest single-source provider of comprehensive senior healthcare services in the Los Angeles area, serving nearly 4,000 people each year. Thousands of seniors benefit from the Los Angeles Jewish Health’s community-based and in-residence care and services. Programs include: PACE (A Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly); hospice; palliative medicine; community clinics; short-term rehabilitation; and acute psychiatric care. Four campuses (Eisenberg Village, Grancell Village, Fountainview at Eisenberg Village, and Fountainview at Gonda Westside) serve seniors with options for independent living, residential care, skilled nursing care, short-term rehabilitation, and Alzheimer’s disease and memory care. In addition, Los Angeles Jewish Health is home to the Annenberg School of Nursing.
Read More
Mar 15

Los Angeles Jewish Health Resident and Holocaust Survivor Celebrates Bat Mitzvah, and 92nd Birthday, during 100th Anniversary of the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah

(RESEDA, CA – March 15, 2022) History will be made at the Los Angeles Jewish Home, Thursday, March 18 as beloved resident and Holocaust survivor Frieda Thompson turns 92 on the same day she will be called to Torah for her Bat Mitzvah. This date also marks the 100th anniversary of when Judith Kaplan, at age twelve, became the first American girl to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah on March 18, 1922. Frieda Thompson, whose parents were murdered by the Nazis, still recalls that one of her mother’s final actions was to ensure her brother was called to Torah for his Bar Mitzvah even as there was chaos all around. Frieda studied for her Bat Mitzvah a few years ago, but COVID-19 prevented gathering as a community at that time. Now, with family flying in for the big day, Frieda will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah during the weekly Shabbat Eve. Service, in the Weinberg Courtyard of the Jewish Home, in front of loving family, caring staff, and dozens of fellow Jewish Home residents. When asked what this day means to her, Frieda offers, “Moses was loyal to his family and to the Jewish people. I too have always felt loyal to my family and the Jewish People.” In commenting on the significance of this lifetime milestone Rabbi Karen Bender commented, “As a small child, Frieda was forced to raise her hand and call out ‘Heil Hitler’. Today her voice rings out as a cherished leader among her peers.” Note: Media interested in attending the Service/Bat Mitzvah must be fully vaccinated/boosted/masked – and must RSVP in advance.
Read More
Mar 12

Los Angeles Jewish Home Accepts New Resident Applications

After pandemic-related pause, premier senior living facility reopens its doors (RESEDA, CA – March 12, 2021) The Los Angeles Jewish Home announced it is accepting applications for new residents, as well as participants in its community-based programs, after an extended pause in admissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening coincides with the one-year anniversary of the nationwide shutdown resulting from the coronavirus. Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of the Jewish Home, says welcoming new seniors will enable the organization to continue its century-long tradition of providing for the region’s frail elderly. "Seniors in Los Angeles depend on us for care. During COVID, ensuring their continued health and safety meant refraining from bringing people in. But now that 99 percent of our residents (as well as the large majority of our staff) has been fully vaccinated, we’re relaunching the admissions process so we can serve even more members of the community." The Home has immediate openings for seniors who need hands-on skilled nursing assistance. "The Jewish Home typically has wait lists for available spaces in our skilled nursing facility; it’s uncommon to have availability as we currently do," Surowitz says. "This represents a rare opportunity for people to get into the Home now, before we reach capacity, which will happen quickly." With the easing of the pandemic, the Jewish Home is also welcoming seniors to its Brandman Centers for Senior Care, a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Through the program, residents and seniors who live on their own receive medical services, physical therapy, social services, and nutritional counseling, as well as exceptional adult day healthcare that engages them intellectually, physically, and socially. Applicants to the Jewish Home have access to a broad range of programs and services beyond PACE and skilled nursing. From short-term rehab to hospice, independent living, home health, and memory care, the Jewish Home provides support to residents at their varying levels of need. Through the Jewish Home, seniors are also eligible for the organization’s new Brandman Health Plan. Designed for the chronic patient with special needs, the plan offers benefits to anyone in Los Angeles County who is Medicare-eligible and has diabetes, chronic heart failure, cardiovascular disorders, or dementia. Seniors and their families can reach out to the Jewish Home for more information about current openings and availability. "We’re here for new applicants, whoever they are and whatever their needs," Surowitz says. "We look forward to learning how we can help."
Read More