Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care volunteer Bill Shulman comes from a family with deep roots in Boston’s Jewish Community and a connection to Hebrew SeniorLife that spans generations. I sat down with him recently to learn about his experience as a hospice volunteer.
JD: There are many volunteer opportunities in Boston. What motivated you to become an HSL Hospice Care volunteer?
Yom Kippur is referred to in the book of Leviticus as sabbath of sabbaths, and the double use of the word communicates a completely restful Shabbat, the Shabbat of all Shabbats. Rosh Hashana, the 7 days in between, and Yom Kippur are a time of reflecting on our lives. We literally pause, stop in our tracks, to assess, and recalibrate. The prayers, songs, and time in community are all ways to support our process of deep reflection — and in that time of suspension, we experience what the Torah understands to be a Shabbat shabbaton, a time of complete rest.
Vision loss is a common concern for my patients as they get older, and something that I discuss often with the residents I see at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston. One of the most common causes of vision loss for those over age 60 is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It accounts for 90 percent of new cases of legal blindness in the U.S. Here’s what you need to know to recognize, prevent, and treat AMD.
As a newly trained attending physician, I vividly remember several patients who became extremely confused during their stay at the hospital. They were disoriented, and had problems with attention and memory. I realized that something was wrong. What was causing their confusion? They were all older adults and had been admitted for different conditions such as congestive heart failure, pulmonary disease, and cancer.
Did you know that falls are NOT a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented? Hebrew SeniorLife works throughout Massachusetts and in our own senior living communities to educate seniors about this fact through our evidenced-based programs department. Our work supporting evidence-based programs helps empower older adults to become more active partners in managing their own health care.
One of the defining moments of my work in aging research was learning how dramatically age affects the deterioration of the skeleton. This realization motivated me to perform research focused on understanding age effects on the skeleton. Thus I have spent my career studying the impact of low bone density and working to characterize the contributors to age-related bone loss (osteoporosis). This is an area of research with the potential to help many individuals as the National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that low bone density and osteoporosis affects 54 million Americans.
In this season of graduations, I was privileged to attend the ceremony honoring Boston-based Hebrew SeniorLife’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program’s class of 2015. I was moved by the depth of compassion and humility expressed by the graduates as they shared reflections on their experiences as CPE students. Their stories poignantly illustrated what it means to be part of a faith-based organization.
“Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender older people who fought the first battles for equality now face so much fear of discrimination, bullying and abuse that many are hiding their lives to survive. Thousands are dying earlier than their straight counterparts because they are isolated and afraid to ask for help.” This quote was excerpted from the movie Gen Silent, a film by Stu Maddox.
At the heart of our philosophy to “redefine” the experience of aging for older adults is our organizational focus to meet the varying needs of older adults in our health care, housing, home and community-based services, and research and teaching. We’re helping our seniors rediscover and redefine what their lives can be through the support of HSL resources. Residents have access to our continuum of care, and connections to HSL researchers and geriatricians who are working at the forefront of aging research and senior health care. Watch the video below (produced for Hebrew SeniorLife at the time Lou transitioned to his role as president and CEO) for a full understanding of how Hebrew SeniorLife redefines aging for our residents and community at large.
Before we look ahead, I think it’s important to see where things began for aging research at Hebrew SeniorLife. Since 1965 the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) has been at the forefront of geriatric research to improve the quality of life for seniors. IFAR research has contributed to some of the most important innovations in senior care: