Posts Tagged ‘geriatric’

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

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

Lights in the Tunnel

April 1, 2015

Kindling Lights in People’s Hearts
Mishpacha Dec 2014
The K. family’s living room was well-lit. But neither the sparkling chandeliers nor the glowing fluorescents could banish the darkness that prevailed there.
As long as there were only suspicions and conjectures, they managed to somehow suppress them. But when the unequivocal results arrived, they could not ignore the facts anymore. The father of the family, the supporting pillar, the broad shoulders that carried the entire family – was diagnosed with cancer.
Malka felt as if the sky had crashed down on her. At night, on the tear-drenched pillow on the ward, she had a frightening dream, blacker than black. With the first light of morning that shone into the ward, a ray of light radiated to Malka, a ray that with time emerged as a flaming torch: The Ezer Mizion Cancer Support Division entered the picture and embraced her in a cushion of warmth, empathy, and support in every possible area.
“The change began the moment I was approached by Blumi Willner, the indefatigable head of the department. With a warm, sincere smile, she introduced herself and asked- no, literally pleaded with- me to transfer this entire load to her,” Malka recalls.
“The help she offered was like a lifeline for me, both from the physical side and the emotional aspect. They provided us with medical counseling, took care of the maze of bureaucratic matters that had me totally lost, sent us hot meals, babysitters, and help with housecleaning and laundry. They provided “big brothers” for the kids, helped transport us to the hospital and back, and took shifts by the patient’s bedside. They treated us to a rejuvenating retreat, included us in support groups, and more and more and more, until we arrived at the ‘happy ending’ baruch Hashem. I cannot imagine how we could have gotten through this dark course without the guiding light of Ezer Mizion.”
Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Center has a terminology all its own. Rabbi Yehuda Silver feels that he is entrusted with a power station of souls: “The soul of man is G-d’s candle,” he quotes, and explains: “When the soul is hurt, this light is extinguished. Here we operate a range of projects and rehabilitation programs for the mentally ill and their families. We even have a Center for the Musical Arts, ‘Sounds of the Soul,’ along with occupational rehabilitation, social experiences and ,of course, Torah classes. These activities restore the person’s basic belief in himself and pull him out of the dismal pit of mental affliction. And so, every day here, dimmed eyes become radiant, with flames of vitality once again glowing within them, and another pure Jewish soul emerges from darkness to light.”
You can recognize Efraim by his smile. Once, he was a Down’s Syndrome child, today, he is a Down’s Syndrome adult – so he has known Ezer Mizion for years now.
“My Mom refused to hide me the way they used to hide kids like me,” he says in his typically direct manner. “But she didn’t know who would help her raise me. She put me in a stroller and went to the Ezer Mizion branch, which was very small at the time, but even then, everyone knew that you can get help there for any problem. My Mom likes to tell how I stuck out my tongue at everyone, but that didn’t scare them off. They just stroked me and wished my Mom that she should see lots of nachat from me.”
Efraim’s mother relates how throughout the years raising her special child, Ezer Mizion were like her eyes, giving her guidance and counsel, encouragement and assistance, lending her the necessary rehabilitative and medical equipment, and even helping care for the child, through the afternoon clubs and summer retreats.
A glance at the Geriatric Services Division reveals the great devotion and respect accorded to applicants. Seniors here are treated royally, based on the deeply rooted Jewish belief that the elderly deserve the utmost honor since they are the crowning glory of the generation. The Division operates in a number of areas in the goal of supporting the elderly and illuminating their days by improving their quality of life.
The organization’s Transport Network also includes a number of areas: Ambulances transport patients who needs require the special equipment available in the ambulance. In addition, tens of thousands of volunteer drivers transport the frail or ill in their private vehicles.
In this same manner, important medical materials are also transported from the Center of the country to the North and from the South to the Center. Every day, more than a hundred such requests are posted.
Sometimes it is more complicated. Here is one example among many that happened recently: On Monday, the world stopped for a family in one of the cities of Israel. The mother was diagnosed with a serious illness and the entire family felt that the earth was pulled out from beneath their feet. Ezer Mizion rushed in to do whatever they could to envelop the family with everything they needed. When they asked about meals for Shabbos, the father said that he would be with his wife in the hospital and the children would be scattered among relatives. Then, three hours before Shabbos, the mother of the patient decided that she would stay in the hospital with her daughter, so that the father could be home with his children.
A small light flickered on fifty screens: “Shabbos meals needed for a family of ten.” In fifty homes, they started setting aside portions from the food that was ready, defrosting ingredients, rolling up their sleeves, and sending out flickering, glowing messages: “We’ll prepare ten portions of fish, “Three salads – taken care of,” “”Five challahs waiting here for pickup,” “Seven portions of chicken and a tray of oven-baked potatoes, “Ten schnitzels will be ready in another fifteen minutes, “Dessert for two meals,” “Shabbos will be here in another hour and a half, and I’m starting the pickup now…”
And so, within an hour, the dishes were collected and brought to the family’s home. With tears in his eyes, the father accepted the generous delivery. When he lit the Shabbos candles and poured out his prayers for his wife’s recovery, he added another emotional request: “Master of the World, look at the tremendous chessed of your people and show us soon the candles of the rebuilding of Zion!”

Aleh Partners with Ezer Mizion

February 26, 2014

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Kivun Chadash – Gimla’im – Jan. 22, 2014

By: Dahava Eyal

I first heard about the program from Varda Kahana, director of the Ezer Mizion branch here in Rechovot, and from Anat Yules, the director of the Municipality’s Division for the Benefit of Senior Citizens. I shared the Aleh organization’s interest in expanding and developing additional services for target populations of seniors with impaired function in order to continue actualizing the organization’s goals and contribute to enhancement of the quality of life for the elderly population in the city. They shared with me the details of the innovative program for the benefit of seniors with cognitive decline that had been in existence for several years.

In our discussions, the idea came up to form a collaboration between Ezer Mizion, the Rechovot Municipality and Aleh which will operate “Bonding and Building.This program was conceived by EMDA an organization founded by relatives of people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other similar conditions.

The “Bonding and Buildingprogram is based on many years’ experience working with seniors suffering from cognitive decline. It is founded on the principle that skills that are still present can be salvaged, and latent skills uncovered, in the goal of preserving cognitive, sensory, motor, and social capabilities and slowing the rate of the senior’s deterioration. According to Sigalit Gaz, director of the program at EMDA, experience has shown that the elderly who join the program very quickly agree to go out for a walk after a long period of seclusion in the house and resume interests in music or crafts. This change contributes significantly to their quality of life and vitality and strengthens social and interpersonal ties.

The Program is Operated by Volunteers

The volunteers are hand-selected and undergo a challenging training course, benefiting from guidance and professional mentoring for the duration of their work. They service 2-3 families offering 12 sessions each. The volunteers are equipped with a kit which contains seven collections, each representing activities in different spheres. Their rigorous training equips them to utilize the kits professionally, achieving amazing results. The role of the volunteers is to visit the family home, motivate and encourage the senior to engage in activity, and simultaneously demonstrate to the family members how to work with their elderly relative.

The volunteers also profit from the program, adds Sigalit Gaz, as is evident from their enthusiastic feedback: “We help people age with dignity,”

“It gives me a reason to wake up in the morning,”

 “I feel I am doing something meaningful with my life,”

 “The course gave us so much knowledge and tools, that serve us as well in our own lives,”

 “The course enabled us to acquire new friends and we improved our own interpersonal relationships.”

In addition to the feeling of fulfillment and meaning that is generated by the work, the volunteers also receive a great deal of love and appreciation from the recipients of their help.

In order for the program in Rechovot to begin operation, serious, motivated volunteers are needed. Interviews and selection of the appropriate people will begin in the next few days. The training course is scheduled to start at the beginning of March 2014, with a preliminary session in February.

Anyone who believes herself to be suitable to join the program is invited to call:

Batya Wegh, Coordinator of Aleh’s Geriatric Services Administration: 054-9986678

or Varda Kahana, director of Ezer Mizion’s Rechovot branch: 052-4391594.

For further info: http://www.ezermizion.org

 

Books Are Great but I Wanted the Real Thing

October 9, 2013

Books are great, says Matityahu Kreitman, but I wanted to get a feel for the real thing. I’m a pre-med student and, of course, I have tons of material to learn but I was anxious to develop a real understanding of the patient and, for that, I needed real patients.  My chance came in the summer, a perfect time to fulfill my ‘volunteer hours’. I chose Ezer Mizion’s Ambulance Division. They provide transportation for the elderly and the disabled. It’s hard for me, a young guy, to imagine. When I want to go somewhere, I just go. It’s hard to get my head around the concept of someone not being capable of getting where he has to be. Like an eighty-four year old man who needs ten minutes to get up from his chair, go across the kitchen to the refrigerator to get a fruit and then, ever so slowly, make his way back. Should he forget to bring a knife, it’s a major effort to get up again to retrieve it. How can a person like that go to the doctor on his own?   And what about the wheelchair-bound lady who was injured in a terror incident? She needs physical therapy three times a week. How can she get there?  That’s what Ezer Mizion’s Ambulance Division does. At least, that what I understood that they do before I started my volunteering stint. I knew that they get the patients from here to there. I’d get to meet the patients and become familiar with the clinics and hospitals. That sounded great. Little did I know that they do so much more.

On my first day, I met Motti. He’d be one of the people I would be working with. He’s the type of person who considers it his life’s mission to make others feel good. As the summer drew on, I saw that his style was typical of others at Ezer Mizion. They all seem to be cut out of the same mold that says: I care.  Motti was energetic-always ‘going somewhere’ and his destination always seemed to be to benefit other people. He did everything to make me feel comfortable in my new job. 

First came the ground rules. Some I was told. Other things I just absorbed from being around Motti and the others. I learned that a patient was not a case but a real person. The drivers knew many of the patients from previous trips and remembered what they had discussed. To one they might ask how his cough was doing. To another if the landlord fixed his kitchen sink. To a third they would ask if his daughter had her baby yet and to a fourth what he thinks of the latest political news. How did they remember each patient? Motti and the others  didn’t have to use a notebook. When someone really cares, he remembers.  And each Ezer Mizion driver really cared. Motti would sometimes play Jewish geography with patients and loved seeing the grin on the patient’s face when they found a relative or friend that they both shared.  As he brought a patient home, he would end the trip with a sincere, “Have an amazing day!” that warmed the patient through and through.

Motti was religious but never was there a difference in his treatment of religious and secular. To him, they were Jews and Motti loved all Jews. I witnessed this same friendly demeanor towards an Arab patient. “Why not?” he answered my unspoken question. “He’s a human being.” I was gratified to hear the Arab praise the Jewish nation to the skies.

Motti’s attitude even extended towards me. How many times did he try to make sure that I was comfortable with each patient maneuver. Would I like to rest before attempting the next landing? Can I manage it this way or should we do it that way?

Often a worker’s attitude is how can I do the least and get the most. Not at Ezer Mizion. The attitude is just the opposite and, you know something, the people at Ezer Mizion seem so much happier than the average worker who is often seen complaining about this and that. The mindset here is always what is best for the patient. How many times did I see Motti come down after bringing an overweight patient down three flights of curving stairs. He’d be sweating a lot and he’d ask the patient, “ OK, what will it be? High air conditioning, low or none.“ Should the answer be, “None,”   without missing a beat, Motti would reply, “OK. You’re the boss. Whatever you say.” Then he’d begin his friendly chatting to make the patient feel good. Never, not even once, did I witness a slight hesitation or resentment in his reply.

And so yes, I got to really know the patients and yes, I became familiar with the clinics and hospitals  but at the end of the summer I gained a perspective that I hope to emulate and take with me throughout my medical career.

For further info: http://www.ezermizion.org

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Ezer Mizion: Purim Spirit Breaks through the Gates of Illness and Old Age

February 27, 2013

Ezer Mizion’s parties throughout the country for the elderly, the ill, the special child. click to share their smiles and sing along.