At Hebrew SeniorLife we know that pairing seniors with students creates endless possibilities for meaningful connections that change lives. Students often volunteer at HSL to fill community service requirements—providing support in our sites, and bringing smiles to the faces of residents throughout the HSL network. Sometimes the connections between students and residents run deep, and we witness powerful interactions between our young volunteers and the residents they have befriended. Such was the case with our series of intergenerational programs launched in late February and early March centered around Black History Month and the anniversary of the Selma-Montgomery Civil Rights March.
Nearly one in five Americans over the age of 65 struggles with depression, which can be a debilitating and life-threatening condition. Social isolation, illness and the loss of loved ones can all trigger or worsen depression, as can certain medications.
Center Communities of Brookline, one of HSL’s supportive housing communities, recently implemented a depression management program that delivers treatment, support and hope to seniors. The program, developed by Baylor College of Medicine, has been shown to reduce the severity of depression symptoms in older adults.
I just finished reading Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, MD, MPH. In his book, Dr. Gawande, a nationally known surgeon, writer, and public health researcher, discusses end-of-life care, the many issues with traditional nursing home care in this country and the ways in which long-term care should be re-imagined.
Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care is uniquely skilled to meet the spiritual needs of all patients who come to us from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds. Because of a particular need from Boston’s Jewish community, we have taken on a special mission to meet the needs of this underserved community by providing a unique sensitivity to its varied religious and cultural needs at end of life.
The holiday season is a time for many of us when our thoughts turn naturally to bringing joy to others, especially children, seniors, and families in need.
Many faiths include giving back as part of their holiday traditions. For Jews, performing a mitzvah means to do a good deed, or charitable act. Many Jewish people even have a tradition of volunteering on Christmas Day. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or are just reflecting on the end of another year, December presents many opportunities for volunteer service.
For many older adults moving from a beloved family home to a senior community, assisted living or nursing home can be, at best, a daunting thought, and at worst, a traumatic experience. As a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, I received training designed to build sensitivity to the special needs of older clients and their families. But there is no substitute for experience, and my most useful lessons have come from clients themselves. Listening carefully to the senior I’m helping move is key.
In 2004, ABC News journalist Dan Harris experienced a panic attack while reading the news on Good Morning America. This led him down a path of exploring the connection between our mind and our bodies, ultimately finding meditation as an answer to quieting his “internal narrator.” Dan wrote about his journey in the best-selling book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Works – a True Story.
As the admissions counselor for Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles, I frequently talk to families of seniors about the advantages of an assisted living lifestyle. While supports like meal preparation, medication reminders and bathing and dressing help can be brought into a senior’s home, assisted living communities offer residents the added benefit of living among a community of peers and caring staff members. I’ve seen seniors not only gain the physical care they need but also regain access to the human connections that give life meaning and purpose. Here are some interesting facts about how even minimal daily social contact can improve an elder’s health:
On October 28, Hebrew SeniorLife will host EngAGE, a fundraising event that will cue the conversation on how we think about aging. We’re excited to welcome celebrity nutritionist Keri Glassman, ABC News journalist Dan Harris, best-selling author Mitch Albom and humorist and journalist Mo Rocca to speak alongside HSL experts. We invite you to follow our EngAGE conversations through social media on the day of the event by searching on Twitter for #HSLEngAGE.
I had a chance to catch up with Keri Glassman, M.S., R.D. and HSL Institute for Aging Research scientist Shivani Sahni, Ph.D., to get a preview of what they’ll be talking about at EngAGE and learn some tips on seniors and nutrition.