Over the past couple of weeks, I have met with a number of Social Studies teachers from public and private schools in the area to discuss possible connections between their students and Hebrew SeniorLife residents. I was struck by the passion of these educators to free themselves further from textbooks and lectures and bring real world history to the students through multigenerational programming.
I often hear from residents that they’re not teachers and they don’t feel they have that much to share. Quite the contrary! Anyone older than 75 was born before WWII began. Older adults can offer a first hand account of what it was like to be alive during such a tumultuous time in our world’s history.
When I was a little girl, I played with a great toy called a View Master. Do you remember it? There were different pictures on a paper wheel that you would put into a little magnifier/camera device. As you clicked through, you would see a story unfold, or have a new window into the magnificent world around you. We don’t see View Masters around much anymore because millions of visual images that connect us to the world are at our fingertips through our computers, tablets and Smartphones. These newer devices are our opportunity to see and connect with the world around us.
I was moving quickly through the halls at NewBridge on the Charles last week, cleaning up after festive Chanukah parties with Rashi School 3rd graders, and preparing for another set of festivities with the 1st and 2nd graders. A resident stopped me in the hallway, a reminder of how important it is to slow down and enjoy each special moment. Little did I know how special this moment would be.
The fifth commandment instructs us to “honor your mother and your father.” Last time I checked, there is no social commandment instructing our elders to hide their gray. The veneration that our tradition gives to a person with gray hair is undermined by a nip-and-tuck culture. People in large numbers persist in trying to mask the natural effects of aging, which creates a false hierarchy of youth and communicates that those who are older are less valued.
It’s time we got over it. The statistics are quite clear: We are living in a time when the oldest in our society are the fastest-growing portion of the population. And yet it is also clear that people over 85 are frequently marginalized, lonely and alienated from the larger community. Significant change is needed.
If I told you that a key to happiness would be to give away money, would you believe me?
Researchers recently gave a group of volunteers $5 or $20 each. Half of the group was told to spend the money on themselves and the other half was told to spend it on others. Regardless of the amount, the volunteers who spent money on themselves reported an insignificant boost in happiness, while the people who spent money on others felt much happier.
Scientists have found that when people donate to charity, it activates areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. They also believe that giving releases endorphins, which are hormones that boost mood and reduce stress.
Last year, just around this time, I started laughing to myself as I drove to my job as a marketing specialist for Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles, part of Hebrew SeniorLife’s continuing care retirement community just outside of Boston in Dedham, MA. Halloween had recently passed, and as my thoughts turned to Thanksgiving, I remembered a calendar quirk I had first noticed on the back page of a Jewish calendar 2013 distributed by Combined Jewish Philanthropies. In 2013, the first day of Hanukkah would fall on Thanksgiving Day!
Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard University joined with NBC correspondent and former “Today” show host Meredith Vieira to present the first annual Harvard Alzheimer’s Symposium on Saturday, September 28 in recognition of the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies program.
The unique and innovative Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies program matches Harvard students with residents at Hebrew SeniorLife’s Boston campus for weekly one-on-one visits that help combat the isolation of their disease.
People often tell me how hard it can be to feel connected to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, especially if he or she has advanced disease. The Alzheimer’s Buddies program is one example of how you can keep that connection alive by approaching it in a different way.
Alzheimer’s Buddies is a response to the isolation many patients experience in the intermediate to late stages of Alzheimer's. The program, one of a number of activities for dementia patients we offer, teams undergraduate Harvard students with Hebrew Rehabilitation Center residents who have moderate to advanced Alzheimer’s.
Ida Tatelbaum had never touched a paintbrush before she moved to Orchard Cove in 2009. “I was a tennis player and an active person, but I just didn’t consider myself creative,“ she said. And then one day shortly after she moved in, another resident invited her to join a class to make a hand-painted silk scarf. Ida initially thought “no way” but, because she has always loved wearing a lot of color, she reconsidered and joined in.