Hebrew SeniorLife created the word ReAge to reflect the breadth and depth of services we offer: providing world-class health care; building innovative senior communities; funding groundbreaking research; and teaching future generations of geriatricians.

ReAge, a combination of “redefine” and “aging,” means to question everything about the aging process. Through ReAging, we are challenging conventions in order to create and implement new standard-of-care approaches that will positively impact the lives of older adults.

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Jewish Family & Children’s Service Transfers Home Care Services to Hebrew SeniorLife

Executive Director Idriz Limaj talks with Jennifer Davis, HSL Director of Marketing Communications, about what this means for the future of HSL Home Care.

Why did Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JF&CS) transfer its VNA and home care programs to Hebrew SeniorLife?
With the backdrop of change in all areas of health care, including the realignment of providers to promote better management of the continuum of patient care, JF&CS decided to proactively pursue the transfer of VNA and home care programs to another like-minded organization. JF&CS leadership identified HSL as an organization that shares their values and could be counted on to continue their commitment to their patients, employees and community. Given the depth and breadth of our clinical services and strong reputation in the Jewish and Russian communities, they felt confident that the transfer serves both organizations and the community well.

Why was HSL interested in taking on new services at this time?
Because we share a similar mission and goals, we felt comfortable partnering with JF&CS to ensure that the services they had been providing to seniors in their service area would continue. At the same time, this opportunity allowed us to expand our coverage area to include more neighborhoods in the Greater Boston area, enhance our presence in Brookline, and add Russian-speaking staff. This move is in line with HSL’s emphasis on developing services that deliver health care to seniors where they live – providing the best care in the best place. Also, the addition of the Aging Services Access Points (ASAP) contract is compatible with HSL’s mission, which states that “we accept special responsibility for the frailest and neediest members of our community who are most dependent on our care.” 

What does this transfer mean for HSL Home Care services?
This move represents an expansion of HSL’s medical and private home care services both programmatically and geographically.

  • Transfer of services expands the HSL service area to include Dorchester, Roxbury, Belmont, Arlington, Wellesley and a larger percentage of Brookline.
  • Additional services include ASAP (Aging Services Access Points) non-clinical personal care and expanded diabetes care. The ASAP contract is very much in keeping with HSL’s mission to meet the needs of all seniors, regardless of income.
  • Additional reimbursement contracts increases accessibility to HSL Home Care services for more seniors in the Greater Boston area.
  • Russian speaking care providers are now on the HSL Home Care staff.

What does this transfer mean for patients and their families?
Continuity of care should feel seamless as the result of close ties between JF&CS and HSL, as well as our shared commitment to provide high quality care so those we serve can maintain independence in their own homes. We worked hard to ensure that all existing patients would continue to see the same care givers. Almost all of JF&CS’s VNA and home care services staff have joined HSL. Home care also represents an access point to HSL’s continuum offering better coordination of care should patients need additional services.

What are the benefits of the transfer of services to HSL’s referral sources?
Health care professionals who refer patients to home care will continue getting the services they are used to getting from JF&CS, but with addition of new programs, and access to more rehabilitation care offered by HSL. Our comprehensive continuum of services offers the opportunity for enhanced care coordination and better transition management for patients from one environment or service to another. In addition, the transfer of JF&CS’s home care services to HSL has expanded our coverage area, as well as insurance contracts so we can now serve more of our referral sources’ clients in more towns.

What do you see as the future for HSL Home Care services?
I look forward to adding more services to HSL Home Care including:

  • More specialized programming and refinement of existing programs such as our orthopedic and diabetes programs to better meet the needs of future patients
  • Introduction of community-based palliative care
  • Improved care coordination
  • Expanded coverage area
  • Partnerships with other organizations, ACOs, hospitals, and other home care groups
  • Partnerships with ASAPs to help patients stay at home

Learn more about health care services at Hebrew SeniorLife. 

Hebrew SeniorLife Takes Part in Alzheimer’s Symposium at Harvard College

By Elaine Abrams, Program Manager, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care at Hebrew Senior Life

Hebrew SeniorLife once again teamed with the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies (HCAB) to sponsor the second HCAB Interdisciplinary Symposium on Alzheimer’s Disease, which took place on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at Harvard College. The symposium was hosted by Meredith Vieira, producer of The Meredith Vieira Show and former co-host of NBC News’ Today show. Vieira’s father and brother were both afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease and she remains a vocal advocate for increasing awareness about the disease.

Harvard sophomore and HCAB Co-Director, Ioana Dobre, was this year’s Symposium director.

“By holding this symposium on Alzheimer’s, our goal is to facilitate dialogue among members of our student body and the greater community about the need to be involved,” noted Dobre. “After all, they are our nation’s future caregivers.”

The event, which was attended by over 130 clinicians, educators, students and disease advocates, also included several Hebrew SeniorLife staff members. Mary Moscato, President, HSL Health Care Services and Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, delivered opening remarks, noting the organization’s most recent dementia care initiatives.

“As we await treatment breakthroughs, we are mindful of the need for quality, evidence-based programming and services focusing on achieving optimal quality of life for our residents with dementia and their caregivers,” said Moscato.

The first keynote address was delivered by Dr. Sumer Verma, Medical Director at Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Verma spoke candidly about the need for medical schools to be more proactive in providing students with adequate preparation to care for aging adults with neurocognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Governor Charlie Baker delivered the second keynote address, focusing on his deeply personal family struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. He spoke eloquently about his mother’s slow, steady decline and of watching his father transform from husband to caregiver.  Baker also emphasized the important role of Hebrew SeniorLife, noting that from his earliest time in state government to the present, the organization continues its efforts to be an innovative leader in its approach to the care of aging adults, including those with dementia.

The symposium also included several workshops on topics ranging from the role of art and music to student research projects. Dr. Ruth Kandel, a geriatrician with the Hebrew SeniorLife Medical Group and HCAB faculty advisor, facilitated a workshop on the importance of recognizing behaviors as a form of communication when caring for adults with dementia.

“Participants seemed to find listening to the personal stories about the impact of dementia on both the caregiver and their families especially meaningful,” said Kandel.

Established in 2011, HCAB is a student-run undergraduate organization that partners with Hebrew SeniorLife each semester to address the isolation that residents with dementia face by building meaningful connections through weekly one-on-one visits at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston. HCAB not only seeks to teach students about both the fragility and strength of human connections, but also empower them to become a new generation of advocates for those affected by dementia.

Learn more about memory care at Hebrew SeniorLife.

A Healthy Dialogue Between Health Care Executive Leadership and Mayor Martin Walsh

By Mary Moscato, President of Hebrew SeniorLife Health Care Services and Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (HRC)

As Mayor of Boston, Martin Walsh has identified “a healthy Boston” as one of his top priorities. To achieve this goal, he says it is critical that his Administration works closely with executive leaders of Boston’s hospitals and health care organizations.

I was pleased to recieve an invitation from Mayor Walsh to join him and other hospital executives for a meeting on March 31 to share an open dialogue regarding the Mayor's priorities for hospitals, housing and jobs.

Boston has many exceptional hospitals, doctors and medical personnel. It was such an honor to represent the doctors, clinicians and staff from Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and HSL’s health care services at this meeting. When the Mayor includes HRC in discussions about the future of Boston, it demonstrates the important contributions we are making to this great city.

While HRC offers so much to seniors and their families in neighborhoods all across the city, it was enlightening to learn how we can strengthen our ties with others to continue to serve our neighbors. 

 I think it’s safe to say that we are all in this together.  We all want Boston’s residents to live healthy lives.

Our first meeting was a great start to achieving great things. The partnerships and opportunities in front of us will help the conversations continue. I intend to include more staff from HRC in future meetings with the Mayor and his Administration. 

Every hospital and health care organization has a responsibility to do its part to make Boston healthy. For HRC, it could mean creating opportunities for Boston’s youth. I see great things developing if we can get some of Boston’s young people involved in our multi-generational programs that take place at HRC. These are conversations I plan to have to see where we can take this.

It’s important for Boston and it’s important for our future.

Learn more about health care services at Hebrew SeniorLife. 

Hebrew SeniorLife’s Community Outreach Manager Discusses Role

Hebrew SeniorLife Community Outreach Manager Steven Friedman spoke with HSL Communication Specialist Bill Burgey for a Q&A to elaborate on the unique qualities of his position.

Can you describe your role?
The majority of my time is spent outside of my office meeting with health care professionals. I am in communities around all of Hebrew SeniorLife’s locations helping to educate physicians, staff in assisted living and long-term care facilities, geriatric care managers, those who work in councils on aging, and in senior housing sites. Hebrew SeniorLife offers a full continuum of care, and I enjoy helping professionals navigate the HSL system. After explaining our continuum of care, I put the professional in contact with the right person at HSL. Simply stated, I make connections and bring people together!

What is the most exciting part of your job?
Each day creates a new opportunity and a different set of challenges. I like challenges.

I can be on the road talking to a group about HSL Home Care or HSL Hospice Care at the start of the day, and at 2:00 p.m. I’m discussing the benefits of our Adult Day Health Programs with another group of professionals. Educating people is what drives me. Someone always leaves knowing more about what HSL has to offer after meeting with me.

What has your professional experience taught you?
The majority of my experience has been as a pharmaceutical representative servicing and educating physicians. My background also includes educating the senior population about the benefits of health insurance and hospice benefits. My affinity to senior care has always been a key part of who I am. Having cared for many of my senior family members, I’ve learned what’s important to them, and this experience has had a direct impact on me professionally.

What attracted you to HSL?
HSL has an amazing reputation. It was my desire to align myself with an organization that strives for excellence. I’m fortunate to work with such a professional and highly respected group, it makes my job so rewarding.

What is the best way to reach you?
Professionals can call me on my cell at 617-285-9775 or send an email to StevenFriedman@hsl.harvard.edu. It’s that easy. 

Learn more about health care services at Hebrew SeniorLife. 

A Shared Vision: A Discussion with New Members of the HRC Leadership Team

Matthew Russell (L) and Scott Ariel (R)Byline: Bill Burgey, Communication Specialist at Hebrew SeniorLife

Hebrew SeniorLife recently announced two new appointments to its leadership team.

Scott Ariel (photo right) was named Executive Director of Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Dedham, located at Hebrew SeniorLife’s NewBridge on the Charles. From 2008 to 2012, Scott was Vice President of Post Acute and Support Services at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston.  

Matthew Russell, M.D. (photo left), was named Medical Director for Hebrew Rehabilitation Center’s Rehabilitative Services Units in Dedham and Boston. Prior to joining HSL, Dr. Russell was an assistant professor of Medicine in the Geriatrics section at Boston University and Boston Medical Center. He was also the founding medical director of the Boston University Physician Assistant program. A native Bostonian, he is new to HSL.

I had the opportunity to meet with Scott Ariel and Dr. Russell and learn what each of them brings to their roles and what plans they have for 2015.

Coinciding with Scott’s return, the HRC community in Dedham celebrated its five year anniversary. Scott was instrumental in bringing staff and residents together for this special event. It was timed perfectly to help with one of Scott’s priorities: to get to know the team and for the team to get to know him.

Scott will work with staff to cultivate an environment where each team member feels personally responsible for the welfare of all patients, residents, volunteers and visitors.   “The 5 year anniversary celebration was a great starting point. I know I am working with staff that care very much how we care for the people who need our help,” says Scott.

“The programs we offer our residents are extraordinary. I think the multigenerational programming makes us stand out in a very powerful way. I’ve already observed the students from the Rashi School and our seniors engaged in some very creative activities together. From concerts to storytelling, they share laughter and the seniors look forward to the students’ next visit.” 

Scott is responsible for the day-to-day operations and for providing leadership for all staff at HRC in Dedham. He works closely with staff in long-term and post acute care.

Dr. Russell’s role on the Rehabilitative Services Units combines his skills in patient care and administration. “When I hit the ten-year mark out of training earlier this year, I decided to focus on my primary passion: taking care of older patients in a team-based setting. HSL is world famous for its excellence in clinical care as well as research, and I wanted to be part of this exciting organization,” says Dr. Russell.

“Here I work with a group of professionals who come to work and know their patients inside and out. The quality of care and communication across the various disciplines is outstanding. If there were one thing I want the Greater Boston health care community to know about HRC, it is that the quality teamwork and patient care that our patients receive is far above what is seen in most skilled nursing facilities.”

The Rehabilitative Services Units at HRC are licensed as skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and treat patients following a serious illness or surgery. According to Dr. Russell, “Post acute care patients are complex. Medical issues are often still active and require close monitoring. This calls for a well-integrated team of clinicians that can identify all the challenges and manage them over the course of the patient’s rehab stay. I call this ‘team-based medicine in motion.’ As the new Medical Director, I’m so thrilled to be part so of such a competent team.”

Dr. Russell and Scott are excited to be at HSL. “As health care reform and cost containment approaches dominate the health care landscape, organizations are seeking partnerships to reduce waste, improve communication and optimize transitions of care. There will likely be additional partnerships between HSL and our referring hospitals,” predicts Dr. Russell.

Scott Ariel hopes to see more prospective residents and their families visiting the campus to help them with their decisions about long-term care. “Making a decision about long-term care is difficult. I want families who are dealing with this issue to feel comfortable visiting us to see all we have to offer and what we are doing to help seniors live their best lives.”

About Long-Term Care at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center 
We take pride in providing seniors with long-term care that redefines the nursing home experience. The basic tenet of care in Hebrew Rehabilitation Center’s nursing home long-term care communities is that resident preferences come first. Our vision for long-term care emphasizes the dignity, health and independence of seniors. Our innovative programming—along with a dedicated staff of Harvard Medical School-affiliated physicians, geriatric specialists, nurses and more—can be experienced in three communities in Massachusetts: Hebrew Rehabilitation Center Boston, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center Dedham at NewBridge on the Charles, and long-term care at Orchard Cove in Canton. We welcome older adults of all backgrounds, faiths and cultures.

Celebrating 50 Years of Aging Research

During its 50-year history, researchers at Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) have discovered that many of the characteristics associated with aging can be traced to mechanical, physiological, and biochemical functions, as well as environmental factors. As Baby Boomers live longer than the generations that came before them, research into conditions that are common in older adults – like osteoporosis, fractures, falls, dementia, and delirium – is becoming more and more critical.

Watch this video from IFAR Director Dr. Lewis Lipsitz to learn more about how IFAR’s research can impact the approach to working with seniors, and visit IFAR’s new website to explore in more detail how IFAR’s research aims to redefine the aging experience.

An Introduction to Culture Change at Hebrew SeniorLife

Hebrew SeniorLife’s commitment to honoring our elders is the driving force behind culture change in long-term care. We work closely with staff members to evaluate our services and the experiences of our residents to more effectively honor their unique personalities and voices. HSL Chaplain Susan Moser explains, “It’s about quality of life. It’s about living, and it’s about living the best life that you can possibly live.” We invite you to watch our brief video to learn more about culture change at Hebrew SeniorLife.

Questions & answers about Alzheimer’s

A Q&A with Elaine AbramsProgram Director, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care at Hebrew SeniorLife

Q. How has our perception of Alzheimer’s changed over the years?
A. Alzheimer’s disease was once viewed as a death sentence of sorts, a dismal scenario of cognitive decline and loss of function that played out over the course of years. We now understand that Alzheimer’s patients are able to find pleasure and experience satisfaction even in the face of cognitive decline. The disease doesn’t lessen their ability to have a rich emotional life, one full of love, joy and sorrow, too. We have learned to look beyond the limitations of the disease to help patients tap into the interests, skills, and abilities that remain so they can be part of society for as long as possible.

Q. My patients often ask me about clinical trials and experimental drug treatments. What should I tell them?
A. It’s an exciting time for Alzheimer’s research. As more genes are identified as linked to the disease, they become the targets of treatment. Researchers can use biomarkers and brain imaging to track changes in the brain even before symptoms start to occur and actually start thinking in terms of preventing these genetic changes. Currently, any drugs that might be used for prevention are only available in clinical trials. Of course, any drug must be thoroughly tested on human patients before it goes on the market. Without volunteers, new drug treatments can’t be developed. So participating in clinical trials is a valuable service for any patient to undertake. Available trials are listed at ClinicalTrials.gov and at the Alzheimer’s Association site. Of course, there are risks, and people should talk to their physicians before signing on to a trial.

Q. What should people look for when choosing an Alzheimer’s caregiver or facility?
A. I’m a big advocate of early diagnosis, because it allows the patient to be actively involved in decision making around his or her care. It also gives patients and families a chance to think proactively about all care options. During the early stages of Alzheimer’s, someone who wants to live independently might be fine having a home health aid come in a few days a week to help with grocery shopping and cooking. But as the disease progresses and affects things like safety or personal hygiene, options like adult day health programs become more appropriate. You definitely want to look for facilities that offer activities and programs that support what I call the “personhood” of your loved one, one that goes beyond just meeting physical needs and helps them stay active and engaged in life.

Q. What sets Hebrew Senior Life’s Alzheimer care facilities apart from other options in the Boston area?
A. Every member of the HSL staff is trained in “habilitation” rather than “rehabilitation.” And this is a philosophical approach, a choice to focus on the abilities that remain rather than lament the ones that are lost to the disease. We know that patients in the most advanced stages of Alzheimer’s can experience happiness, a sense of accomplishment, and feelings of love and connection. Our goal is to create as many opportunities as we can for patients to have positive interactions and experiences.

Q. Is there anything more you’d like to say about Alzheimer’s?
A. I think we, as a society, are going to have to come to terms with Alzheimer’s as being a normal part of life with a growing senior population. We’re going to have to learn to see past the diagnosis to the human being inside and make sure that the care we offer addresses both.

About Dementia Care and Research at Hebrew SeniorLife
Memory Care, located within Hebrew Rehabilitation Center at our Roslindale and Dedham locations, is for those in need of long-term care and living with a memory disorder. In addition, we offer Memory Care Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham. Both programs take a holistic approach to managing care for residents with Alzheimer's and other dementias while preserving independence and functional ability. Therapeutic programs focus on residents' medical, physical, social, cultural, emotional, behavioral and spiritual needs in a compassionate, supportive and structured environment. Our Aging Brain Center, at the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife, is dedicated to advancing medical knowledge about delirium, dementia, and their interface through research and education. 

Caring for body and spirit: Why spiritual hospice care matters

By Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow
Director, Religious and Chaplaincy Services at Hebrew SeniorLife

End-of-life care has always included a spiritual component, helping patients “make peace with death,” alleviating the fear of the unknown, and helping families deal with grief and loss. In the past, patients looked to their priest, pastor, or rabbi for support, guidance, and solace. Patients who had drifted away from formal religion or perhaps never practiced one, may have shied away from speaking to clergy members. But according to a recent Boston Globe article, there’s a growing demand for spiritual services within the hospice care environment, as people increasingly view spirituality as separate from religion. While this isn’t exactly a seismic shift in thinking, it can open the door to an end-of-life experience that is characterized by joy, love, and connection rather than grief and loss.

A chance to talk about death. Patients and their families may avoid talking about death for fear of upsetting one another. Clergy members know how to initiate conversations that allow patients to explore their feelings and fears, to help them find a sense of inner peace, closure, or even just acceptance.

A chance to create personal meaning. Hospice care most often focuses on caring for a deteriorating physical state. But patients’ minds and souls need care, too. Not being able to participate in activities they once loved can leave patients feeling depressed or despairing. Spiritual caregivers can help them identify ways to incorporate facets of these activities into their lives. And this helps them maintain their sense of self even in a diminished physical state.

A chance for forgiveness. As people approach the final stage of life, feelings of guilt and regret for things they’ve done in the past may surface. A rabbi, priest, or minister can offer comfort by listening with compassion and without judgment.

A chance to share joy and laughter. When hospice residents are able to face their fears, shed their guilt, and meet bodily limitations with grace, they are free to experience the moments of joy that life still holds. For their families, this is a time to reminisce, connect, and celebrate a life well lived.

During the last days and weeks of life, caregivers at Hebrew Senior Life’s Hospice Care Services guide hospice patients and their families through an unfamiliar and sometimes frightening landscape. From giving compassionate care to the sick (Tipul rachamani), to honoring the dignity of human life (Kevod haberiyot), Jewish values are reflected in every facet of day-to-day life. Each member of our staff receives special training in Jewish culture, tradition, and values. And these values – reverence for our elders, compassion, loving kindness – inform the care we provide to patients from all faiths.

About Hospice Care at Hebrew Seniorlife
The hospice care offered at Hebrew Seniorlife as part of our continuum of health care services, is dedicated to offering medical care aimed at easing patients’ pain and anxiety. A leading provider of Jewish hospice services in the Boston area, we are known for delivering the highest quality of care, focusing on a commitment to community, and offering innovative end-of-life educational programming. We welcome patients and their families of all backgrounds, faiths and cultures, supporting them through the challenging weeks and months of terminal illness and remaining close by as they begin to heal after loss.

Boston Researchers Develop New Method to Measure Delirium

Delirium, characterized by confusion or a change in mental status, is a common occurrence among older adults, particularly among hospitalized seniors recovering from illness or surgical procedure.

Delirium can lead to poorer prognosis among older patients.  Studies have connected delirium in adults 65 and older with hospital mortality rates of up to 33 percent and estimated health care costs of more than $182 billion yearly.

A new system for assessing delirium in older adults—the culmination of research from Harvard Medical School, Brown, and UMASS—may lead to improved clinical care, prognosis and treatment response for future patients. 

Based on the current Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), the new CAM-S scoring emerged from a study funded by the National Institute on Aging and published in Annals of Internal Medicine. The CAM-S measurements of delirium pointed to a strong connection with clinical outcomes including:

  • Length of hospital stay
  • Nursing home placement
  • Functional/cognitive decline
  • Death
  • Hospital and post-hospital costs

“Our findings demonstrate that the CAM-S provides a new standardized severity measure with high inter-rater reliability, and a strong association with clinical outcomes related to delirium,” says Sharon K. Inouye, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Aging Brain Center at the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife and professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS).

The new CAM-S system was developed and validated in two groups of patients, all aged 70 or older.  The first group of 300 patients were scheduled for major surgery as part of the Successful Aging after Elective Surgery (SAGES) study.  The second group of 919 adults were admitted to the hospital as part of the Project Recovery study. 

Researchers based the new scoring method on the original 4-item short form and 10-item long form versions of the CAM.  They then examined the impact of the CAM-S scores on hospital and post-hospital clinical outcomes.

They found that length of hospital stay for patients increased with the degree of delirium severity—from seven days for no delirium symptoms to 13 days for severe delirium based on CAM-S short-form scores. The CAM-S long form scores showed similar increases in length of stay from six days to 12 days between no and severe symptom groups.

The researchers also found that the mean hospital costs increased along with delirium severity. Measured by the CAM-S short form, costs rose from $5,100 for patients without delirium symptoms to $13,200 for those with severe symptoms. The CAM-S long form scores showed mean costs rising from $4,200 to $11,400 across delirium symptom groups ranging from no delirium to severe.

“We believe that this measure holds great promise to improve understanding of the effects of delirium on clinical care, prognosis, pathophysiology, and response to treatment.  Ultimately, we hope that this measure will help to prevent the effects of this devastating condition and improve quality of life for older adults,” says Sharon K. Inouye.

Learn more about delirium and HSL’s Aging Brain Center at the Institute for Aging Research.

Learn more about our patient services and contact Hebrew SeniorLife.

View our recent press on delirium measurements.