Posts Tagged ‘elderly’

Holocaust Survivors: What are they doing now?

May 17, 2017

pr golden -f-IMG_4766-maleCompanionship. A vital need at every stage of life. And especially essential for the holocaust survivor. Rivka is a typical survivor.   She was born in 1930, in Lodz and grew up with her parents and three siblings in a warm, supportive family. But the war came crashing down on this idyllic family life and young Rivka was left all alone. Illness took the lives of her parents and her siblings perished in Auschwitz and Treblinka. Life as she had known it was no more and the future looked bleak indeed. But brick by brick, she rebuilt her life, marrying and raising a family. And now at 87 years old, she sits, absorbed in her memories, in need of the companionship of those who understand. Spending her days in a rocking chair by the window would be perfectly acceptable but she doesn’t want that. She wants to laugh. She wants to share. She wants to connect with others. And so Rivka became a member of Ezer Mizion’s ‘British Café Club’ and, for the past four years, has not missed an activity. Whatever the weather – cold, rainy, scorching hot – Rivka is there. Bright and bubbly and ever so grateful to the staff. Recently she fell and fractured her arm. But that didn’t stop her. Her arm ensconced in a cast, she surprised us all at the next event, showering blessings upon each individual staff member. “I’m a holocaust survivor and my blessings have substantial weight in heaven,” she says as she moves on to the next person with her warm words of praise.

The club meets three times a week. One hundred and twenty members partake of a healthy breakfast, exercise and lectures on a variety of subjects including current events, seasonal topics, and health maintenance. Parties and field trips are frequent additions. At the club, Rivka enjoys a warm, supportive, stimulating environment in the company of women who went through similar traumatic experiences. For Rivka, the club is a place where she feels comfortable sharing her thoughts, and at times, her difficulties, alongside stories and jokes that bring a smile to her friends’ faces.

After Rivka broke her arm, Ezer Mizion arranged for home attendants to be sure she received the care she needed. The home attendants were chosen with forethought and were able to provide not only personal care and homemaking but also friendship and a listening ear. Rivka is comfortable speaking to them at length about her difficult past and the shocking ordeals she and her extended family underwent. A very significant relationship was woven between Rivka and her attendants, past and present. Now whenever Rivka arrives at the Club, the staff that handles the attendants also receive her heartfelt words of gratitude and blessings.

Like Rivka, Rochel is the sole survivor of her entire family. In 1946, she arrived in Israel on the “Biria” ship alone and bewildered in a world gone mad. Rochel is 94 and not only is she lucid but she has a sparkling, animated personality and a great sense of humor which is enjoyed by all he fellow club members.

Her experiences lay buried within her and her senior years found her with a burning desire to share them with others. The club members were her first audience. Once the dam broke, her thoughts come pouring out in a torrent and it was never enough. Ezer Mizion arranged for varied frameworks, enabling her tell her story again and again. She also hosted high school students in her home who were mesmerized by her experiences. A powerful speaker, she told her story at community centers and at high schools.

Ezer Mizion’s Eshnav program is a one-on-one program provided in the homes of homebound survivors. In the framework of the program, every Holocaust survivor receives a personal service package tailored to his/her needs. The service package includes: social support, physical exercise, cognitive enrichment, music, social and functional enrichment through game playing, and more.

Through the Eshnav project, Rachel was assigned a social work student, who came every week to her home, as part of her practicum. A marvelous, most significant bond was formed between the two. Even after her training was completed, the student chose to continue her connection with Rachel, serving as a pseudo-granddaughter. Together, they talk about current events, read newspapers, laugh together, and sometimes even bake or prepare special dishes. Rachel attests that her bond with the student literally gives her life.

One of the youngest holocaust survivors, Tzippy, was four years old when she was smuggled out with her mother and three siblings and hidden by Raoul Wallenberg in hide-out apartments. During that time, they suffered severe hunger. The family lost her younger brother to starvation. Chananya, another survivor, was nine when he was deported with his family to Auschwitz. Both were fortunate to have survived the war together with family members. In 1958, they married and began to rebuild. Now in their golden years, they are anxious to give to those that were even less fortunate. Tzippy is a volunteer at the club, preparing breakfast, escorting the more frail members from gym to activity room and delivering interesting talks on a variety of subjects. Giving to those who shared similar experiences fills a deep need within her. Volunteering became more difficult when Chananya fell and fractured his leg. With no elevator, he was now homebound. But that didn’t stop him from creating. An Ezer Mizion staff member visited him and was stunned to find his home filled with breathtaking artistic creations, the fruit of years of labor. The painstakingly prepared creations, using original materials, depicted his life story from holocaust to rebirth. Newly registered in the Eshnav program, Chananya now receives weekly guided physical activity as well as stimulating conversation with a social worker student who has become fascinated by his artwork and the story behind it.

Unfortunately shortly afterwards, Tzippy also fell on her way home from her volunteer work at the club. Ezer Mizion immediately dispatched a caring home attendant to help her out but all of us at Ezer Mizion look forward to the time when she will once again be on the giving end.

These are our heroes, men and women who survived a horrific nightmare and went on to build, to create, to flourish and give to the world. Now it’s our turn to offer support to these courageous champions. May they enjoy their golden season for many years to come.

pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulim DSCF1594

It’s Only a Game But…

December 28, 2016

 

memory%20colors%20gameWhen is the last time you had a day with nothing on schedule? Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? We work, take care of our kids, keep the home running smoothly. Our psyches are bombarded with suggestions to try something new: Pesach in the Alps, a new program for our slow reader, brand x to make our silver shine like new. We have needs. We have goals. Never-ending problems. Solve one. Up pops another. Always something to work on. We’re mega over-stimulated.

And then, one fine day, the busy mother becomes a senior citizen. She wakes up and realizes that it’s all over. The kids are on their own. The newlyweds needing advice have become middle-aged mature adults, able to dispense advice to their own children. The house almost takes care of itself. And that’s a good thing because she doesn’t have the energy that she used to have. The merry-go-round has stopped and there are no more urgent problems to solve. Life at 75 is great…or is it? No more goals. But no more satisfaction in achieving those goals. No more children clinging to her skirt. But no more satisfaction of nurturing. Where once the tension of challenges had permeated her being, now, with nothing to work toward, depression sneaks in.

No longer does she need to do anything, go anywhere. Her emotional system shuts down. And she just sits there. Today. Tomorrow. And the day after that. Her children are frantic and contact Ezer Mizion. “Is there anything that can be done?” they ask.

Ezer Mizion has many programs for the elderly, among them Gardening Clubs where nurturing plants becomes the senior’s focus and Social Clubs where talents and experiences can be expressed. A new facet to Ezer Mizion’s Golden Age program is games. Games have been found to be an excellent tool for cognitive and social stimulation and a marvelous means of avoiding depression.

Volunteers are being carefully trained in their use and report back to the staff. They often have to overcome the senior’s negative feelings about games as being childish. Let’s read over the shoulders of staff members as they peruse the day’s reports.

Mrs. R.

Mrs. R was sitting in the living room, dressed and with make-up waiting for me. We chatted and I tried to interest her in games. Mrs. R did not want to cooperate. She tried to evade the issue, saying that she’s very busy. The grandchildren come all the time, she has trouble with her vision etc etc. I left her alone!!

Instead, I turned to Larissa, the attendant: “I see that you have your eye on the Rummikub. Want to play with me?”

As the game goes on, I see that Mrs. R is adjusting her eyeglasses, trying to follow what is going on. Then she asks Larissa to bring her closer to the table, and says, “I see that you are laughing all the time – at what??”

I gave her Rummikub tiles and explained the rules of the game.

Mrs.R was sucked right into the game. She displayed perceptual skills and high thinking ability, as well as an eye for detail. At one point in the game, she asked Larissa not to look towards the right; she has an idea how to take tiles and create a series.

We played for 45 minutes with a lot of action and relaxing laughter!!

Before we parted, she stretched out her hand and said, “You have a great mitzvah! It’s a long time since I laughed! I didn’t want to play. I gave you countless excuses. And then you started playing with Larissa. Do you think I didn’t understand??”

Mrs. F (Present at the session: Her husband and attendant Yarona)

We sat on the porch. I tried to interest Mrs. F in a game, but her husband dominated our conversation and didn’t give her a chance to express herself. He related to the game derisively. I asked the attendant to play with Mrs. F when her husband wasn’t home. .I would come when the coast would be clear to give her ideas.

Mrs. S

I put out the game, “What’s the Situation?” She opened her eyes wide at me – you want to play with me??? “Games are nonsense. They’re for stupid people!”

So I played with Nechama, her attendant. Mrs. S says to Nechama, “This is a game for stupid people. It’s not for you. You’re smart!!”

Nechama put a book on the Tishrei festivals with impressive glossy pictures on the table. Mrs. S leafed through and told us what she saw and what Yom Tov it belongs to. Mrs. S. displayed broad knowledge in the area of the Yamim Tovim, and showed a high level of memory and retrieval. As I left, she said, “The main thing is that we didn’t play games!!”

Future sessions: Do not use game material that ‘comes in a box’. Memory – use magazine pictures with a number of items. Play 21 Questions with family pictures based in info she provides during conversation.

R K and C F (2 sisters-in-law live together with 2 attendants.)

They showed me their craft works and creations. I took out a game. R immediately said that playing games is not for her, but I saw in C’s eyes that the game is very much for her!! R had trouble understanding simple instructions, while in contrast, C displayed high-level abilities.

Attendants were instructed how to play with them individually between my visits so that each will benefit appropriately.

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.

For further info: 718 853 8400            www.ezermizion.org   5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219

 

Golden Age?

December 28, 2016

golden-despair-in-rocking-chairIt’s called the Golden Age. From the vantage point of a younger person, it truly seems golden. No difficulties with toddlers or raising a difficult teen. No problematic boss to please. No mortgage payments to meet. The senior can just sit back and enjoy her accomplishments. But is it really so? Now let’s change hats and sit on the senior’s rocking chair. No children who need her to kiss the boo-boo away. No shared smile of satisfaction with a daughter when the perfect Yom Tov outfit s finally found. No challenges. No satisfaction in meeting those challenges. The former frantically-busy-mother wonders just what she is doing in the world. Gradually, lacking the stimulus of natural challenge, she forgets how to think, how to problem solve, how to plan. Lacking goals, she is miserable, depressed with no idea how to extricate herself from the dilemma.

Ezer Mizion’s professional staff has many means of counteracting such a situation. A recently added program is Games. Let’s join a trained volunteer as she plays with a group who is being introduced to games:

I explained the rules of Sukoku to them. They seemed hesitant. One was put off because she felt games are for children. Another was sure she was going to be embarrassed in front of the others by not knowing what to do. Following many-step directions has not been her forte in recent years. Some hardly knew the meaning of the word ‘game’. But they all were brave enough to try. These were some of the comments after an hour’s play.

“Can you come twice a week?”

“Instead of sitting at home with nothing to do, I came. And I did it!”

“At first I thought it was childish, but after I was successful, it made me feel good.”

“It’s a good think that we took turns playing. I am naturally a slow thinker, and when it was my turn, I had time to think and no one jumped in and snatched it from me.”

“Where can we buy the game? I’ll play with my granddaughters and they’ll see that Savta knows how to play, and even how to win!!”

The following week, many reported that they had purchased the game and played with their grandchildren. They had developed strategies and we were able to move up to the highest level.

When I introduced Tentrix to a different group, many held back.

“I’m not first. I don’t want to mess up.”

“I’ll be first. If I don’t get it right, please, no comments!”

One whispers in my ear, “Give me a hint how to start.”

“I have an idea, let’s talk over how to put the tiles together, out loud. Everyone will say what she thinks is best to do.”

And so the game began: There was a discussion among them how to put the tiles by color, to find a good spot, each one gave advice to her friend how to make a chain, and as they worked, they discovered techniques in creating small and large loops.

 

When I introduced Rummikub, a game that had been in existence for generations, I was surprised that most of them were not familiar with it.

“Do you think I had a childhood? The Nazis stole it.”

“I didn’t even play games with my children. I was too busy giving them my heart and soul.”

“The only game I played was Hide and Seek, hiding from the cursed Nazis. I had to fight for food, for potato peels.”

Checkers was another shocker. Almost none of them knew how to play. We worked on strategies. At first, their goal was to get a king. Gradually, they learned blocking and defense techniques and how to win by careful planning.

Each week, several report playing one of the games with grandchildren. Their conversation has become more upbeat with their feelings of empowerment spilling onto other areas of their lives. The games are just one part of Ezer Mizion’s Golden Age Program which includes social groups, gardening groups, walking groups, trips and much more. It is our hope that we will be able to truly help to make these final years the golden years of joy and nachas.

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.

For further info: 718 853 8400         5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219                             http://www.ezermizion.org

 

 

 

We’re Waiting for You

November 2, 2016

The following was written by a trained volunteer in Ezer Mizion’s new program for the elderly designed to bring out the golden-ager from a pit of depression back into his world of family and friends.

 

Dear Ezer Mizion Staff,

pr-golden-helping-handHow are you? I just wanted to share what happened last week with my sessions with the elderly. You really trained me well. You’ll see in a minute why I say that.

On Wednesday, I woke up with strong leg pains. I called Mrs. G.’s attendant, intending to cancel my session for that day. As soon as I told her that I was Nechama from Ezer Mizion, she didn’t let me say another thing. She burst in, saying enthusiastically, “We’re waiting for you!” I was so moved that I couldn’t refuse her. I told her that I would be late, but she didn’t care when I would come, as long as I would come. I came to them literally limping and in pain. It was such an emotional session. The non-Jewish attendant told me, “Please come again. We are waiting for you. It’s very important to her to pray. I can’t do it with her.” It’s a fact: When I davened aloud, she was alert for almost three quarters of an hour. She opened her eyes wide, as if she understood every word I was saying and as if she was reminded of things she once knew. I left happily, after we danced and sang songs about the coming of Mashiach. It seems to me that the attendant was also touched. She said, “We’re waiting to see you next week!”

From there, I went to Mrs. S. Her daughter was so excited to see me. “You cannot imagine how much Imma waits for you. She talks about it all day.” The daughter said that suddenly, she is a lot more motivated and willing to do things she hasn’t done for years. I gave her a page of symmetric shapes to color in and she did it with great effort. I reflected her feelings that she doesn’t feel like working and isn’t in the mood because of her aches and pains and general ill health.

After I gave her the chance to talk about what was really bothering her, I took out the Memory game I had borrowed from Ezer Mizion’s Game Lending Library. At first she looked askance at it, without interest, as if to say, “What do I have to do with such a game?” Slowly, but surely, I brought her to a point where she really enjoyed it and cooperated. Her daughter sat in the next room, and couldn’t believe what she saw.

When I finished playing with her, I gave her a hoop with a ball, and again, she at first did not want it. I told her we would play with her daughter. I held the loop, and she and her daughter played with the ball for a few minutes, and there was lots of laughter and joy. My grandchildren came to her, and she blessed them and showed interest, and it was really fun for her and the children.

After the whole long story that I wrote, I almost forgot the “cherry on top” – that the pain in my leg disappeared as if it had never been… apparently in the merit of my sessions that I had planned to cancel.

Sincerely,

Nechama

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.

For further info: 718 853 8400    5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219                   http://www.ezermizion.o

It’s Only a Game…Or Is It?

August 24, 2016

 

pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulim DSCF1639  Esty had absorbed the message that pervades every nook and cranny at Ezer Mizion: “What else can we do to help those in need?” Esty was hired as a Developmental Aide who met with special needs children several times a week, working to attain the goals set by the therapists. Being well trained in the field and blessed with a lot of initiative and great ideas, she developed a program using games to help meet those goals. A classic Candyland game could work wonders if utilized in the right way, she discovered. It was not long before she was heading Ezer Mizion’s newly founded Game Lending Library. Therapists would use the games to supplement their own supplies and families with special children would meet with her and borrow games based on her recommendation.

A busy mother, at her wits end, is told that her child will grow so much more if Mommy does ‘homework’ with him each day. It’s not that she doesn’t want to obey the therapists’ instructions. It’s not that she doesn’t care about her child reaching his potential. It’s just that after she’s done with the usual work in running a large family in addition to dealing with the clothes dumped out of every drawer for the third time that day by her special child, in addition spending an hour searching the neighborhood when he , once again, maneuvered the complicated lock and escaped through the front door, in addition to dealing with her teenage daughter who is so upset that she can never invite friends over her house, in addition to…, she has no energy – physical or emotional- left to do homework. But a game? That’s different. His siblings can be trained to use it properly. It can be a means of bringing the family closer together in a fun way. A game? A game can be magic.

pr golden -f-IMG_4766-maleWith the Game Lending Library providing so much for the special children and their families, Ezer Mizion staff began to think of more ways it can be of benefit. It was not long before the Library made its way to Ezer Mizion’s Golden Age Division. Esty with her vast knowledge in utilizing games for cognitive, motor and social stimulation, now adapted it to a project that serves the elderly. A training program for volunteers was instituted which taught the art of playing games and how to use games for promoting social skills, generating social interaction, etc. what games are good for what purposes, how to work the way up in skill acquisition, what to watch out for, etc. The focus is on generating interest and social involvement which is especially important for elderly homebound people who suffer from isolation, depression and lose interest in life. These volunteers go to homes to play games with the elderly.  They choose a game that is ability and level appropriate, geared to specific goals. The elderly homebound love it as do their family members and caregivers.

 

 

pr golden 2 14 Yom Tzilumim. DSCF1457Café Britania (named as such because it was primarily funded by the British ambassador) is a social club for Holocaust survivors. So many of these survivors live alone with little or no extended family. Often, they lose interest in living and withdraw into a ‘living death’. Café Britania becomes their surrogate family, providing an embracing arm filled with reasons to wake up in the morning. It’s a place where they can gather together and be understood both by their fellow club members and by the caring staff. Exercise, brunch, lectures on health maintenance and other topic of interest, creative craft work, gardening, so many projects all serve to renew their interest in daily living. Their bodies are kept active. Interesting ideas fill their minds and they are surrounded by those with whom they can share their thoughts.

pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulim DSCF1200The initial group was small but enthusiastic and the game was underway.  Sounds of excitement from the group attracted others and it soon doubled in size. The air was alive with electricity as players vied with each other to win. The women were overflowing with happiness and each one strove to be first to shake Esty’s hand and thank her. Battling loneliness of the elderly on a second front, the Game Library has now become an integral part of Ezer Mizion’s program for goldenagers.

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.

For further info:               www.ezermizion.org     718 853 8400       5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219

I Missed Mine!

July 6, 2016

pr golden holocaust surv bas mitzvah 2016Many Holocaust survivors have built anew and are now successful heads of multi-generational families. But there in the recesses of their being lies the childhood that never was. They don’t speak about it. An adult would feel foolish expressing his regret over never having had the opportunity to play with dolls. But it’s there. Or rather, it is not there. A void that cannot be filled. Among themselves, the sorrow may come up in conversation. And at one other place: an Ezer Mizion Social Club for Holocaust Survivors. It was there that an idea was born.

As these heroes attend their grandchildren’s Bas and Bar Mitzvahs, their hearts are filled with pride. Yet there lurks that germ of regret. “I missed mine.”

Would a formal celebration during the Golden Years serve as closure for the childhood celebrations lost in the wisps of crematoria smoke. Call it a Bas Mitzvah. Call it a closure of sorts. Would it serve to put to rest, once and for all, a few of the demons that still invade in their souls?

The caring professionals at Ezer Mizion thought it may. Were they correct? A survivor spoke at the event, representing all of the attendees. These are her thoughts.

 I was a little girl, just nine years old. Alone, devoid of her past, and apparently, of a future as well.

I never celebrated a Bat Mitzvah, not at age 12, and not after that, either. My childhood was stolen from me. They robbed me of the kiss and embrace of a father and mother, of games and life with my brothers and sisters, of a family’s caring, of a Shabbat and Yom Tov table, of learning at school and frolicking about in my free time. They robbed me of a sheltered life at home, sleeping cozily in my warm bed, of food that you don’t have to worry about every minute, of a normal life, where all the world’s evil remains far outside your walls.

We will never be able to retrieve all that they stole from us. We built beautiful homes. We tried hard so that our children would not feel what we went through. And we did a good job. That’s a fact, and our children are the proof.

And now, you have created this day to celebrate our Bat Mitzvah. How symbolic and how moving it is. We thank you wholeheartedly for this beautiful idea, which fills us with gratitude.

About a hundred Holocaust survivors, ages 75-95, dressed in festive clothing were brought to the Kosel. The event began with a visit to the “Chain of Generations” display and the “Behind Our Wall” in the Kotel Tunnels. An elegant meal was served, enhanced by musicians and by chazzan Dovele Heller, who sang chassidic compositions and nostalgic Yiddish tunes. Rabbi Chananya Chollak spoke, showering the survivors with blessings and each survivor was given a siddur with her name engraved on the cover.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the women were brought back to the Kosel for their first prayer using the new siddur.

The women returned home excited and brimming with the experience. They felt that this was a meaningful landmark occasion for them. It strengthened their feeling that people have not forgotten them, and even in their waning years, took the trouble to arrange this important event.

For further info: www.ezermizion.org    718 853 8400       5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219

Ezer Mizion’s Elad Transportation Troops in Action

February 10, 2016

 

Ezer Mizion, the Caller ID reads.

“Are you available to drive a patient to the hospital today at four?” Eli’s forehead wrinkles in thought and he makes the calculations. “I’ll take it.”

His cell phone vibrates. “This is Dr. Kluger’s secretary,” You have an appointment in another two weeks but a slot became available today at four. Interested?”

Yes, very interested. His foot has been waiting for over a month to be seen by the overbooked, expert orthopedist. True, it’s nothing critical but the nagging pain… Perhaps he should cancel the volunteer trip? Just this once…

“No,” he heard himself say. “I’m booked this afternoon.”

A soldier in the Ezer Mizion army does not go AWOL.

At 3:55 he leaves. His foot seems to be bothering him so much than before. The thought that he could have resolved his ongoing pain pulses through his mind.

The passengers are deeply engrossed in saying Tehillim and he silently joins their pleading murmurs. He almost forgets about his aching foot and the appointment that almost was. The passengers are frightfully tense. They burst out of the car and rush in.

He adds another chapter of Tehillim to the anonymous passengers’ pool of prayers, and is about to begin the long ride back . At that precise moment, a call comes in from his elderly mother.

“Eli,” his mother sobs hysterically. “Go to Tel Hashomer. Fast!” “Abba fell. He is in terrible pain. A neighbor called me at work. Nobody went to the hospital with Abba,” she groans. “Abba needs you. Now.”

To Ima’s disbelief, he assures her that he is already at the entrance. “An ambulance just pulled up,” he updates his frightened mother. A tremulous smile breaks out on the pained face of the elderly man on the stretcher. His son is here. Now everything will be all right.

Two terrified, elderly parents at peace now because a soldier in the Ezer Mizion army does not go AWOL.

 

 

“Ezer Mizion calling. Will you be available to take an elderly woman to the hospital?”

“No,” his rational mind silently answered. He had plans for the day.

“Yes,” his compassionate heart responded aloud. His plans would have to wait.

He stopped at the entrance to the hospital and waited but his patient did not emerge from the car. Frightened. Her voice trembling, “They don’t pay any attention to a sick old lady” she whispered. “I never know what to say.” The devoted volunteer discerned her unspoken request and offered his services as her escort.

It was just as she feared. Their attitude was rough and humiliating, arrogant and derisive. She approached the receptionist’s desk to let her know that she had arrived. “Sit down, Grandma,” the receptionist roared at her. “When it’s your turn, you’ll hear about it.” At this point, the “escort” came to her assistance, speaking authoritatively. The attitude towards her changed sharply. She suddenly wasn’t just another “old lady,” come to spend the rest of her days sitting in clinic waiting rooms.

Their turn at the receptionist arrived. The woman rummaged through her pocketbook and was horrified to see that she’d left her form at home. “On the end-table in the living room, under my glasses,” she wrung her hands in disbelief.

The volunteer took her house key in hand, and rushed back to Elad. Then back to the clinic. Again at the side of “his” patient for the duration. Five hours later, he opened his front door.

********************************************

An elderly person with frightening case of muscular dystrophy asks for a ride to the clinic. A relationship develops and he becomes the volunteer’s “adopted” grandfather. Efficiently and energetically, the volunteer arranges complicated bureaucratic business and submits requests to the authorities. His trips to the grocery take longer because of all the items he buys for the old man – unfamiliar packages appropriate for his strict diet. Making appointments for doctors, second opinions, and tests have become a regular part of his “to do” list these days, and food for Shabbat is on his wife’s list –unfamiliar recipes adapted to “Zeidy’s” health needs.

Ezer Mizion transportation troops armed with an arsenal of solicitude and sensitivity.

http://www.ezermizion.org

 

 

 

When a Parent Develops Dementia…

January 13, 2016

pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulimThis journey of mine into the heart of the Ezer Mizion world enters its eighth week. Every week, I reveal another chapter here, in our little corner. So far, we have only touched on a small fraction of the sweeping empire of activity.
Throughout this ongoing overview, during which I have met up with the people at work and have seen the various projects in action, I cannot help asking myself one question – a rather frightening one: What if all this did not exist? These are not government systems under official auspices. They are complementary, civilian, alternative systems. They are the product of private initiatives, supported by donations. They are a bonus that our civilian society is privileged to have at its disposal and that are so basic and self-understood!
Question: What does a family do when their loved one is stricken with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia?
The medical establishment will do its part to the best of its ability (in this case, that is easy enough: to inform the family that there is nothing to do…). But what’s next? How do you deal with a new reality in which a father or grandfather gradually loses his awareness and becomes helpless and disconnected, while his body remains whole and healthy? How do you protect him? How do you relate to him? How do you bear the pain and frustration? What do you do?
You turn to Ezer Mizion.
And what do you do in situations that are not quite so miserable, when you simply reach a stage where you are compelled to assist a parent or other relative who is gradually losing his independence and leaning on the care of others?
You turn to Ezer Mizion.
There, families of Alzheimer’s patients find their first hope for redemption from their impossible situation. They are presented with a course of action that ends up easing not only their burden, but the life of the patient himself. This takes place at the Organization’s Alzheimer’s Support Center, serving very many families in Israel.
This work is only a small part of the comprehensive system Ezer Mizion operates for the benefit of seniors and their families. Here, these precious elderly people, who initiated and established and exerted efforts and lovingly prepared everything for those who are now compelled to care for them and assist them – are given the special attention they have earned. A huge division of Ezer Mizion pools within it the spectrum of services needed by the senior and his family with an emphasis on setting up the environment so that the elderly individual will receive the optimum care.
Caregiver services, a counseling center, an empowerment center, walking groups, a variety of workshops, visits by volunteers, the Bonding with Motion program (a fascinating project that I intend to expand upon in the future) and more, without bounds.
I find it amazing. That there is an address. That there is somewhere to turn. That there is a way to ease pain that is not physical. That there is someone to talk to. That there is – Ezer Mizion.

She Applied for A…?

June 10, 2015

Rivka*pr-colorful_question_mark_vector_set_148455 was a hardworking home attendant, employed by Ezer Mizion to care for a frail, elderly woman. Her salary barely sufficed for her needs but she was content, knowing that she was doing important work. Her own sense of kindness intensified by the caring atmosphere at Ezer Mizion, she was constantly on the lookout for additional means of easing the plight of her client. When Rivka’s hours were over, she would return home only to care for another golden-ager, her own father. She cared for him devotedly but it soon became too difficult for her as his needs grew. And so, Rivka applied to Ezer Mizion in the hope of obtaining a male caretaker for her father. She knew that one of the major criteria for acceptance in any Ezer Mizion program is compassion and sensitivity and was confident that anyone sent by Ezer Mizion would take good care of her father. What a tremendous relief it was for both her and her father when a fine, considerate young man was found in the Ezer Mizion rosters. When Rivka discussed her father’s requirements with the new attendant, he mentioned that he is certainly aware of the needs of the elderly. His own mother is currently being taken care of by a gentle, sensitive home attendant from Ezer Mizion’s Homecare Attendant Service Department. “Let me tell you how she handles my mother,” he continued. As detail after detail came to light, Rivka’s face changed. It mirrored a sense of appreciation, gratification, a bit of embarrassment until she admitted to the new attendant that it is she that has been caring for his mother.
They spoke often after that, each one sharing the trials and concerns of his/her parent. They got to know each other well. They each liked what they saw. Hashem has many ways of bringing two people together and soon there was an engagement. A new home was to be set up among the Jewish people.
Both being challenged with serious economic situations, their finances precluded the purchase of even the most basic needs for a new home. Ezer Mizion, the parent organization of its Homecare Attendant Service Department, felt like the parents of the new young couple. Ezer Mizion undertook to assist them with furnishing their home with appliances, essentials and other support so that they could set up their home in a dignified manner!
And their real parents? Their parents are filled with wonder and awe at the heavenly means employed to bring their children together. And their hearts are bursting with joy and nachas.
For further info: http://www.ezermizion.org 718 853 8400 1281 49 St, Bk, NY 11219

Bonding through Motion

April 22, 2015

The prestigious Journal of Intergenerational Relationships (JIR) has published an article prepared by Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services. JIR is published by Taylor & Francis, an international publisher whose headquarters are in Philadelphia and London. The article appeared in the recent special issue, “Intergenerational Family Relations in the Multi-Cultural Society of Israel,” guest edited by Ariela Lowenstein and Ruth Katz and is titled “Bonding through Motion: A Physical Activity-Based Approach for Strengthening Relationships between Elderly People and their Caregivers”. The article explains the Bonding through Motion project that was created by Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services professional staff which has been successfully implemented in hundreds of families caring for an elderly, homebound loved one. The article is available at
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/15350770.2015.992954#preview