A New Program for Our Members with Alzheimer’s and Their Loved Ones Who Support Them
Rabbi John Moscowitz
About a year ago I received a note from a member of our congregation which moved me in all kinds of ways. And by now, that letter has moved us into action. You might remember the note. Again, with the permission of my correspondent, here is the essence of the note:
“It occurs to me that a faith – based group, different from [email protected] the Temple, would be timely to consider for our congregation as so many aging members are experiencing cognitive decline. Among other things we can be providing Jewish content at the level of those suffering decline; at the same time encouraging spiritual sharing for those who most face the issues of providing love, stimulation and dignity for family members. Might we now think of offering learning for those caring for people with Alzheimer’s, while providing support for the aging and aged as well, so that they are not spiritually abandoned in their later years by the community to which they’ve given much when able?”
A number of our members have now moved us into action – and hence this announcement of a new program, Our Loved Ones, Ourselves – for our members with Alzheimer’s disease and similar dementias and for their loved ones who provide them with care.
With the help of the Reitman Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital, most especially that of it’s Director, Dr. Joel Sadavoy, we are now moving into action. Led by our members, Gerri Richman and Sandy Atlin, in partnership with the team at Mount Sinai Hospital, the plan is to establish a program that will offer skills training for family member caregivers – Ourselves — to help them learn effective ways to deal with the challenges they face when caring for their loved ones who have Alzheimer’s disease. The program will also include a simultaneously run separate activity group for their loved ones. The rabbis and cantors will play a role, bringing a religious dimension to Our Loved Ones, Ourselves. This program will be held onsite at Holy Blossom and will be piloted this year.
It is hoped that we can draw on members of Holy Blossom, who may have related experience, to run both the skills training for caregivers and the activity group for their loved ones. Training will be provided by the team at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Are you so interested? Do you have that related experience, perhaps in psychology, psychiatry or social work to facilitate the caregiver skills training? Do you have group leadership experience to run the Loved Ones activity groups? Do you have some time to volunteer to do this important work? Would you simply like to find out more?
If so, please be in touch with Gerri Richman or Sandy Atlin via [email protected]