April 4th marked 49 years since Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. During his lifetime, Dr. King was pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta, and I had the honor of hearing the current Ebenezer Baptist pastor, Dr. Raphael Warnock, speak in Memphis at the American Jewish Aging Services Conference earlier this month.
Dr. King lived to the age of 39, and often spoke of not living to see 40. Forty is a big number in Jewish lore. It is the number of years the Israelites wandered in the desert, and the number of days Moses stayed up on the mountain. Big things can happen within 40 years.
In 1974, President Richard Nixon declared a “National Volunteer Week” in April, and ever since organizations nationwide have celebrated volunteerism all month long as part of National Volunteer Month. Whether it’s one day or a lifetime of commitment, there is no short supply of ways you can give back to your community. When it comes to donating your time and energy, no effort is too small.
Want to make a difference, but not sure where to start? Read our eight tips on how to find the best volunteer opportunity for YOU.
As a young girl, Reana Allen enjoyed visiting our adult day health program, Great Days for Seniors, at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. Reana would come with her aunt, Lorna White, an activity coordinator in the program. “I still remember those days and how much fun I had. It made me feel like I had a second family,” says Reana. “I was surrounded by lots of people. They were like my grandpa and grandma.”
At Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL), we are always on the lookout for opportunities to bring seniors and young people together to build relationships and shatter stereotypes. We’re also deeply invested in training future generations of senior care providers. So when the opportunity came along to build a program that would combine the two, we jumped at the chance.
By this time every year many of us have already given up on our New Year’s resolutions, which all too often include a promise to take fitness seriously by maintaining an exercise or wellness regimen.
While many adults flounder in their efforts to change long-held behaviors, particularly those centered around wellness, it seems like adults age 65+ are enthusiastically embracing change and dedicated themselves to maintaining a healthy lifestyle all year long.
Writer Joan Halperin has lived at Orchard Cove for the past thirteen years. Originally from New York City, she relocated to New England to be closer to her daughter and son. She chose Hebrew SeniorLife’s Orchard Cove senior living community in Canton, MA as her new home due to its welcoming atmosphere and the fact that it was already home to many visual artists and writers with similar interests.
In a Huffington Post article titled “Generational Warfare Is a Media Myth: Seniors and Kids Need Each Other,” from November 2014, a clear rationale for intergenerational programming is outlined. Children and adults thrive on face-to-face contact. In fact, it is suggested that there is an inclination for older adults to connect with and guide children, which likely results in increased happiness and positive emotional well-being, according to research by George Vaillant of Harvard Medical School.
When it comes to LGBT elders, “most 90-year-olds have lived silent hidden lives.” This is one of the reasons that Rev. Mary Martha Thiel created a one-of-a-kind chaplaincy education unit, Spiritual Care of LGBT Elders. It’s part of the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program she directs at Hebrew SeniorLife. “We’re not aware of any other CPE program with a unit focused just on the needs of the elder LGBT community,” says Mary Martha.
A resident who is part of our Enhanced Living environment at Orchard Cove, Hebrew SeniorLife’s continuing care retirement community in Canton, MA, loves to read, but found that retaining the contents of a whole book was no longer possible for her. Through her participation in our Vitalize 360 wellness program, she was encouraged to join a community book club that reads and discusses short stories to help prompt her memories and share her impressions of what she read. She is now a regular attendee and finds she can retain enough to have a meaningful discussion with others in the club.
At CCB, one of Hebrew SeniorLife’s supportive affordable senior housing communities, residents don’t take Zumba lightly. So Sarah, the Zumba instructor, was concerned when Mrs. B. skipped a class. Sarah contacted her to see what was going on.