Support at the End of Life’s Journey
Each year, Skirball Hospice, a program of the Los Angeles Jewish Home, helps over 500 individuals and their families move through the final phase of life's journey. The following is based on one family's story. Sarah* came from a distinguished Jewish family, and, although she was raised with knowledge of Jewish rituals, she identified herself as more of a cultural Jew. What mattered to her was championing causes for people in need, making sure they were fed, housed and clothed. She studied anthropology and travelled all over the world, making friends with people from different cultures and religions. Her Judaism was more focused on the universal, rather than the particular. Having grown up during the Great Depression, Sarah had learned to be frugal and spent money on things that really mattered to her. She wasn't frivolous; she gave monetarily in ways that reflected her values and on causes she believed in. Her four children knew exactly how she felt about the importance of caring for others, both emotionally and financially.At age 90, Sarah was dying from heart disease and was admitted to Skirball Hospice. Her devoted children cared for her around the clock with the help of the hospice team. Her oldest daughter was a great cook and prepared the foods her mother loved. She would sit with her for hours, holding her hand and kissing her cheek. The middle daughters both worked in the medical field and provided the physical care their mother needed. The youngest child, Sarah's son and a bit of an insomniac, stayed with her at night so she wouldn't be alone. Hospice made sure she had the right medications, oxygen when she needed it, and provided emotional support to the family. Their questions were answered and the hospice staff was always available when they needed reassurance. The partnership between the family and the team made a huge difference in the quality of Sarah's last few weeks, and made the prospect of losing her more bearable. Her family was very appreciative of the support they received.When Sarah died, her children knew there wasn't going to be a funeral, memorial, or shiva service, in keeping with their mother's wishes and values. Still, for them, something was missing. There was no coming together to mourn and tell stories, no sense of closure, and no kaddish prayer. Sarah's children had reclaimed some of the Jewish rituals their mother had discarded, and wanted something more for themselves. How could they get that and still be true to what Sarah had wanted?A few months later they received an invitation to attend the annual Skirball Hospice Memorial Service. It was truly an answer to a prayer. All four children attended this touching tribute. Candles were lit, a stone was placed to honor the deceased, and family members were given the opportunity to say a few words in memory of their loved one. Prayers were said, the names of the dead were recited, and the kaddish was read. For Sarah's children, they finally received the solace and comfort they had been looking for. Surrounded by others who had also lost someone dear, they felt embraced and held by the atmosphere of love and acceptance. The staff who had cared for their mom were there to reconnect. With both tears and laughter, Sarah, and all the other former hospice patients, were remembered as only ones who have been through this experience can truly understand.Skirball Hospice will be holding its annual Memorial Service on Sunday, February 22, 2015 at the Skirball Cultural Center. Family members and service providers of people who were on hospice in the past year are invited to attend. For more information, please call Skirball Hospice at 818-774-3040.*fictitious name
The “Pneumonia” Shot
For years it's been recommended that everyone 65 and over get the one-time "pneumonia" shot (Pneumovax, or PPSV23). Pneumovax helps to prevent invasive, and deadly, complications of pneumococcal pneumonia, the most common kind of pneumonia. Unfortunately, it didn't have much benefit in preventing pneumococcal pneumonia itself. However, a new vaccine called Prevnar 13 (PCV13) does significantly prevent pneumococcal pneumonia. This should greatly reduce pneumonia in the senior population.The current recommendation is that everyone over 65 receive two pneumococcal vaccinations. First, at 65 or older, Prevnar 13, followed in 6-12 months by Pneumovax. If the person has already had Pneumovax after the age of 65, they should just get Prevnar 13 (at least a year after the Pneumovax). If the person had Pneumovax before 65, they should wait several years, then get Prevnar 13 followed by a second Pneumovax (but making sure the second Pneumovax is at least five years after the first Pneumovax and one year after the Prevnar 13).This means that everyone over 65-70 should have at least two pneumococcal vaccinations and maybe three, depending on their age when they received the first Pneumovax. This is complicated but should result in a substantial health benefit. Seniors should expect their primary care doctor to be order these vaccinations for them. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask your doctor.The other vaccinations everyone should have are Zostavax (shingles shot) one-time (but not if you have problems with your immune system), and tetanus every 10 years, with one of these being Tdap — tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis. And, of course, influenza vaccinations every year are a must.Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and vaccinations are one of the best forms of prevention.
Loving Care for Individuals and Families
Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. The Alzheimer's Association estimates more than 5 million Americans are currently living with the disease. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease may nearly triple — to as many as 16 million people — barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease.The impact on family and friends is tremendous. In 2013, 15.5 million family and friends provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care for their loved ones. Caregivers face a devastating toll. Due to the physical and emotional challenges of caregiving, Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers had $9.3 billion in additional healthcare costs of their own in 2013. Approximately 60 percent of caregivers rate the emotional stress as high or very high, and more than one-third report symptoms of depression.The Goldenberg•Ziman Special Care Center at the Jewish Home specializes in providing exceptional care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and dementia and their families. One such family that has experienced the Center's loving care is the Kravitz family.Lawrence "Larry" Kravitz began his struggle with Alzheimer's disease more than a decade ago at the age of 70. Living in Pennsylvania, Larry, a veteran, poet, and psychiatrist with a thriving practice, was happily married to his wife, Betsy, a psychologist, for many years.When he began to show early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, he did not resist the diagnosis as many people do. In fact, he was in a unique position to observe the effects of the disease on his mind. As a poet, he found solace in expressing his feelings of loss and distance from his loved ones.I was angry at those who thoughtI was becoming forgetful. I didn't notice.Now I'm beginning to appreciatethe life I've had, and to consider completingall my unfinished business!But, the most important of allis to spend more time with those I love! Betsy cared for him as long as she could, but, like many family members, became increasingly powerless against this progressive disease. Soon, her own debilitating health issues claimed her life. That's when Larry's daughters Cathy and Suzie became more involved.As Cathy recalls, Larry's previous residential care experiences were "a nightmare." She would visit and find that he'd been in his chair all day with nothing to do. One day, he wandered out of the facility through an alley and into the path of delivery traffic.Soon afterward, Cathy heard about the Home's Goldenberg•Ziman Center. As Cathy says, "Everything at the Jewish Home is done with love. Staff feels like part of our family."Today Larry is happier and healthier than he has been in years. Cathy visits him every other day now, and often brings her daughter Jaden and her friends, who love to sing and dance for him. Daughter Suzie and granddaughter Lila also visit often. Recently, they spent the High Holidays with Larry and a number of residents, celebrating the New Year with a lovely service and a beautiful holiday meal. "Sometimes, I cry with joy when I walk in here," says Cathy. "It's so wonderful to have my dad in a place where he is safe and well-loved."Think now, feel now.You can worry all you want tonow or in the future.But don't let now pass you by.For more information about the Jewish Home's Goldenberg•Ziman Special Care Center, please contact Susan Leitch, community manager, at Susan.Leitch@jha.org or (818) 774-3113 or visit our website.
Come Home for the Holidays
Beginning at sundown on Wednesday, September 24th, the High Holidays offer a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a sweet New Year with the residents of the Jewish Home. From attending services and enjoying “Home”-cooked meals with our residents to sending wishes for the New Year to friends and family, the Home has many ways for you to be a part of our celebration.If you are wondering where to attend services, the Home is here for you! The 1,000 men and women who call the Los Angeles Jewish Home their home each year invite you to join them for High Holiday services. In these “Days of Awe,” there may be no more awesome experience than to be among people who have witnessed many passages of life and who bring a unique perspective to the celebration of the New Year.Community services and meals for the High Holidays will be held at the Eisenberg Village campus. Tickets are available and provide admittance to all High Holiday worship services and the Yom Kippur “Break-the-Fast” meal. Tickets for other holiday meals are also available. All tickets must be purchased in advance by Wednesday, September 17, 2014. View our High Holiday flyer for more information. To purchase tickets, please contact Allison Tepper at (818) 774-3386 or EVRSVP@jha.org.Planning to send your wishes for a sweet and healthy New Year to friends and family? The Home can help you with that as well! A beautiful card featuring Sounding the Shofar, a painting created by resident artist Louis Lampert, is available in packets of twelve for $18. To purchase, please call 818-774-3324 or click here to download an order form.At the Jewish Home’s Yizkor services on Saturday, October 4th, a Memorial Booklet honoring those who have passed away will be distributed. If you would like to include the names of your departed loved ones, please contact volunteer coordinator Stacy Orbach at (818) 757-4442 or Stacy.Orbach@jha.org. There is no standard contribution required — the amount you give, large or small, is entirely at your discretion and is greatly appreciated. Submissions will be accepted until Wednesday, September 10th.If you’re planning your menu for festive holiday meals, let the Jewish Home help you! Visit our website at http://www.jha.org/resources/recipes.asp and check out our classic recipes from our residents, such as Helen Berlin’s Holiday Brisket. Begin your meal with Chef Akasha’s Matzah Ball Soup and end with delicious Holiday Honey Cake.On behalf of the Los Angeles Jewish Home and our residents, we wish you a healthy and happy New Year. L’Shana Tova!
Red Hat Society Fashion Show 2014
On Thursday, May 29th the Jewish Home hosted the EV Shayna Punim Chapter’s 2014 Red Hat Society Fashion Show. This special event, sponsored by Gerrie Wormser and John N. Levi, Jr., featured many of the Home’s residents modeling gorgeous garments donated by a local CAbi boutique. Delicious finger sandwiches and ice cream sundaes with hot fudge were graciously served by the Home’s dietary department while live entertainment was provided by the vivacious keyboard and ukulele player Cali Rose. After years of sponsoring the fashion show, Gerrie states that it’s her favorite event. She explains, “My favorite part of the fashion show every year is taking a few 90-year-old people and teaching them to walk down the catwalk with style and flair. I love watching them enjoy every minute of it. I have a background of working as a casting director. The whole process of finding my models and bringing out their inner beauty and natural playfulness is a lot of fun. People just eat it up. It’s fabulous and I love it.” In planning the fashion show, Gerrie reached out to independent CAbi consultant, Bobbie Casalino-Lewis, who was happy to be part of this special event. “This unique opportunity was a wonderful way to give back” said Bobbie. “It’s not always easy to find ways to use my set of specific talents to bring others happiness, but I definitely did that today. Gerrie took me to a few of the Red Hat meetings and gave me beautiful models to work with. I fitted them, styled them, and helped them to shine today.“ After all was said and done, the models surely did shine while walking down the Jewish Home’s runway in their amazing attire and with a newfound sense of self-appreciation.One of the show’s regular attendees, resident Alice Kulick, loves watching the fashion show each year. She exclaimed, “The show was very nice! The girls looked lovely. I was very surprised by the fashions they were wearing. These outfits were a lot different than last year’s and they all looked gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous!”Alice is a big fan of the Red Hat Society and thinks its events are highly entertaining. She states, “I’ve been a part of the Home’s Red Hat Society for the past three years and I love it! Every year they have two big events and they’re always a hoot. I’ve even modeled in the show once before. I really enjoy attending the Red Hat events because they give members a chance to participate and have a good time.”Please click here to view photos from the 2014 Red Hat Society Fashion Show.Special thanks to Gerrie Wormser, John N. Levi, Jr., Bobbie Casalino-Lewis, all of our beautiful models, their handsome escorts, and the activities staff for making this event such a beautiful success.
Volunteer Recognition Luncheon 2014
The Los Angeles Jewish Home’s annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon was held on May 27th and May 28th on both Eisenberg and Grancell Village Campuses. Attendees enjoyed a delightful lunch catered by our very own dietary department as well as an exciting performance by entertainment extraordinaires Wendy and Rik. The dazzling duo performed classic songs from the Beatles, Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Carole King, Sonny and Cher, and Neil Diamond.Over 350 community and resident volunteers were honored for their contributions to the Jewish Home community. One volunteer in particular was honored for her extraordinary dedication to giving back to the Home and its residents. The special honoree, Susan Fien, was presented with the Howard Kayton Memorial Volunteer Service Award. The beautiful crystal statuette featured the Jewish Home logo and a quote from Sukkah 496: “The whole value of a good deed lies in the kindness that inspires it.” Many members of the Home’s administration were present. CEO-President Molly Forrest, chief operating officer Larissa Stepanians, senior vice president Ira Schreck, EV administrator Douglas Tucker, JEKMC administrator Ilana Grossman, and Taper administrator Kathleen Kennings-Glass were just a few of the staff members who gave thanks.Expressing appreciation for the volunteers, Molly Forrest noted “When I hear you have collectively completed more than 50,000 hours of volunteering, it must have been a miracle. You all are definitely following the 5th commandment of honoring thy father and mother.”Similarly, RCFE activities director Caryl Geiger offered an earnest thank you. “Our community is run so smoothly because of you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for all that you do.”Administrator Ashley Teal commented on the importance of volunteers at the Home. “From the time spent showing movies daily, to the hours of manning the Nosh Box, you’re making a giant contribution to the Home. The small ways you give back to your community are actually the pillars that make it work. We couldn’t do it without you!”The Home’s beloved Rabbi Elman then described his admiration for the volunteers. “Because I’m going to be retiring this year, a lot of people have been asking me what I plan on doing when I retire. The answer I give them is: ‘I don’t know.’ But there really is one thing I do know. I look around at this room and take each and every one of you as inspiration. Instead of living a lazy life, you stand on your feet and live a life of giving. You make the Home a better place. So I know that when I retire I will do my best to be like all of you. Thank you for all that you do and as the old saying goes, ‘Give and you will receive.’”Please click here to view photos from the 2014 Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.For more information on volunteer opportunities at the Jewish Home, please contact director of volunteer services Stacy Orbach at (818) 757-4442 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at http://www.lajh.org/volunteer/.
Seminars Inform And Stimulate
There’s a new activity being offered to seniors living in residential care (RCFE) at the Jewish Home’s Eisenberg Village (EV) Campus. Now, in addition to painting, drama, choir, bingo, and a wide variety of discussion groups and other activities, a monthly educational seminar is available. The seminars focus on topics that are important to seniors. “Our goal is to provide an opportunity for our residents to learn from staff they are familiar with as well as speakers from the community,” said RCFE administrator Ashley Teal. “With their input, we created a list of meaningful topics, such as medication protocol, fraud prevention and reducing the risk of falls.” To date, the seminars have been well received, with attendees asking questions and sharing experiences. The topic for the most recent seminar was reducing the risk of falls. Everyone knows a fall is something that can happen to anybody at any time: we trip over a loose rug; we fall out of bed; sometimes we stand up too quickly, get dizzy and fall. But do you know the underlying reasons? Presented by EV’s director of rehabilitation, Deborah Crea, MS, PT, the seminar focused on three main causes of falls: balance, posture, and walking speed.“Our ability to balance is based on three sensory systems: vision, vestibular, or inner ear anatomy, and somatosensory, which is the ability to orient yourself using your joints, muscles, and senses,” explained Deborah. The systems can be affected by many things, including aging, a history of falls, medications, gait, neurological status, use of assistive devices, foot function, cardiovascular status, a fear of falling, vision, incontinence, joint function and pain.“For posture, the ideal is simple: head up, shoulders back, abdominals tight, and glutes tucked in,” Deborah said. If you’ve ever tried to walk while balancing a book on your head, you get the idea! This struck home with some of the residents, as they talked about the posture challenges presented by using a walker and the importance of having the device at the correct height.Last, but certainly not least, is walking speed. This is currently a hot topic in the field of physical therapy. “We are now looking at walking speed as a reflection of various underlying physiological processes,” Deborah continued. “Knowing how much time it takes for someone to walk ten feet can help us predict falls.” Walking speed tells the therapist where someone is in their overall conditioning, cardiovascular health, and ability to participate in activities. For someone being discharged from a hospital, it assists in the determination of appropriate level of care, such as assisted living or skilled nursing.After a fall, physical therapy is needed to help regain or improve overall physical status and reduce the risk of future falls. Balance can be improved by exercises, such as standing with your eyes closed, walking on uneven surfaces, standing on foam, and developing ankle/hip/stepping strategies. Other balance exercises include T’ai chi, yoga, and general strengthening exercises. Specialized testing can determine or rule out vestibular issues.After physical therapy, the goal is to maintain that newly gained physical status, and hopefully continue to build upon it. “At the EV rehab center, our goal is for physical therapy clients to complete their prescribed therapy and then incorporate exercise into their lifestyle,” said Deborah.As you can see, the seminars are comprehensive and meant to enhance the knowledge someone may already have about a particular subject. “We hope to stimulate the cognitive function of our residents in an atmosphere that requires them to listen, think, problem solve, and ask questions,” Ashley explained.“These seminars show the Jewish Home’s concern for our residents and allows us to share our own personal experiences,” said Robert Lehman, a resident at Eisenberg Village and currently serving as Resident Council President. “The fall risk reduction seminar offered good tips on measures we can all take to be safe.”One of the next seminars will focus on another resident-recommended topic of significant importance: cognitive impairment as we age and how we can lessen those effects. It’s sure to be thought provoking and stimulate a great deal of conversation!
Training Session on California Initiative
The way we access healthcare in the United States is changing rapidly. For seniors, their families, and medical providers, these changes can be challenging to understand. On Wednesday, June 18th, the Los Angeles Jewish Home hosted a training session to help geriatric social workers and nursing home administrators gain insight into California's Coordinated Care Initiative, or CCI. The initiative is being implemented across the state to integrate medical, behavioral and long-term care services for individuals who receive both Medicare and Medi-Cal, known as dual eligibles, and those with Medi-Cal only. The training session was opened by the Jewish Home's CEO-President Molly Forrest, who welcomed the attendees and spoke briefly about the Home and the impact of healthcare reform on seniors. Denny Chan, staff attorney for the National Senior Citizens Law Center, provided an overview of CCI. He reviewed the major changes brought about by the initiative, with the major difference being the integration of Medicare and Medi-Cal benefits into one managed care plan. "Most dual eligibles will have the option to join Cal MediConnect, which currently is offered through five managed care plans in Los Angeles County," he explained. When a person with dual eligibility receives notification that they must make a choice, they have three options: Opt-in (choose a Cal MediConnect plan)Opt-out (choose an alternative, such as a PACE program)Do nothing, which means the individual will be passively enrolled into a Cal MediConnect plan as chosen by the State. PACE, one of the alternatives to Cal MediConnect, is currently available at the Jewish Home's Grancell Village Campus. The Brandman Centers for Senior Care (BCSC) is a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE. The program offers adult day healthcare, including medical care, activities, physical therapy, meals, transportation and other personal services to seniors who are eligible for admission to a nursing home but have elected to remain safely in their own homes. Mari Abrams, director of marketing for BCSC, spoke about PACE and the benefits of participation.The training session came to an end with a lively question and answer session. What could be a difficult and dry subject was made understandable and even enjoyable by the speakers and their presentations.For more information about the Brandman Centers for Senior Care, please visit their website at www.brandmanseniorcare.org.