Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How not to be alone

Etti is 94 years old. She lives with a caregiver in Bet HaKerem, in Jerusalem. And she's a member of a JDC Supportive Community. I met her recently when she was doing some group exercises in the Supportive Community program (below). The elderly meet every day for a cultural program, maybe a meal or a movie, or a lecture about something interesting.

The Community Father, Tzion, is JDC's liaison to the 240 elderly clients in the community. They receive cultural activities, medical support, emergency care if needed, home repairs ... most of all, they get the knowledge that they're not alone. That people care about them.

This is the key to ageing-in-place - we know that people live longer when they live at home. But they have to have a decent life, and a social framework, as well as the care and medical support they need.

There are 250 Supportive Communities all over Israel, serving some 50,000 Jews, Arabs, Haredim, blind, disabled, minorities ... you name it.

And sitting in Etti's living room later, we talked with Tzion and Rachel (the Community "Mother," who organizes cultural and other programs). Tzion worked 36 years in the Bezek phone company. "In 36 years I never once had a single day as good as every day I have here as the Community Father."

And for Etti, who sometimes needs Tzion to change a lightbulb, or help her when she feels sick or weak, Tzion is "really like my Father. He's there for me. I'm not alone."

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