Caring for the Aged

Guided Cognitive Activity Caregivers Training Program
Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Division’s goal is to provide optimal service to aging care recipients while giving caregivers
additional tools which improve elder care provision and ensure optimal well-being of the seniors.
The challenges of aging and neurodegenerative diseases are well known and widely discussed as they become an
increasingly prevalent and significant social and economic issue.
Aging is usually related to decline and losses of various kinds. While there are several pharmacological agents
available which are known to play an important role in memory preservation, compliance with these protocols can
bear possible serious adverse effects. Thus, the most promising avenues of intervention now lie in prevention. In
this perspective, nutrition, physical activities, social interactions, and cognitive activities practiced by the elderly
are currently principal domains of interest and research and have proven to be highly successful in improving and
maintaining function levels and improving quality of life.
The goal of this specific project is the promotion of cognitive stimulation among the elderly, which will hopefully
play an active role in the preservation of memory and active cognitive function well in to old age.
The project is facilitated by hired caregivers who are employed by Ezer Mizion in the homes of the elderly. Many of the elderly are homebound and have minimal physical and cognitive stimulation. Caregivers of the elderly who are
interested in enriching their toolbox and broadening their ability for richer interaction with their aging clients, have
been chosen to participate in this exciting Ezer Mizion caregiver training course.
The course introduces approaches for cognitive stimulation through simple, fun activities that the caregiver does
with the elderly client at home, using art, crafts and game mediums that are readily available. Techniques for
encouraging involvement by the senior are taught and modeled by geriatric professionals from the Ezer Mizion
team.
Because cognitive decline is a natural part of the aging process, there’s a lot of benefit to cognitive stimulation
activities for elders such as like crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word and card games, and other games, which
can help older people retain as much cognitive function as possible, assist in memory retention, attention, abstract
reasoning and problem solving. These functions, along with the social exposure that the training brings, enhances
self-esteem both for the caregiver as well as for the elderly client, making it a win-win project.
The training syllabus is delivered at three intense theoretic and hands-on sessions and is followed by professional
supervision in the home of the senior, with enrichment meetings for all the caregivers once every quarter annually,
to further enhance their skills.
The pilot version was done at Ezer Mizion’s Herzlia division and is currently being replicated at 14 different Ezer
Mizion service centers throughout Israel (Netanya, Kfar Sabba, Petach Tikvah, Bnei Brak, Tel Aviv, Holon, Bat Yam,
Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Ashdod, Rehovot, Lod, Modiin Ilit, Rishon Lezion).
This project has been made possible by a generous donation from Alex & Rosa Dembitzer, for whom support of the
elderly and the struggle with dementia, is a cause that is dear to their hearts. Ezer Mizion projects serving both
dementia patients and their caregivers have received the warm support of the extended Dembitzer-Fried family
through this project and other important initiatives.
Inter-generational Outings for the Elderly
An additional project that has merited the Dembitzer Family’s kind attention and support is Ezer
Mizion’s plan to promote inter-generational interaction, stimulating connection of grandchildren to their
grandparents by arranging for them to share a mutually exciting field day together.
The first of these outings is scheduled to take place in another three weeks and will bring together the
elderly grandparents, their adult children and their grandchildren. The outings will be arranged by Ezer
Mizion professional staff, after identifying families that would benefit the most from such an
opportunity. Ezer Mizion volunteers will also be part of the outing group and assist in facilitating
technical aspects of the outing.
The project is beginning as a pilot with several families going out separately to specific venues with preplanned shared activities. The outcomes will be assessed in order to evaluate the projects further phases
and ensure its strongest impact on the elderly through the strengthening of their bond with their children and grandchildren.

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Giving Wherever There Is a Need

Giving on Wheels

Some people put their lives into neat little compartments. Nine to five on weekdays is work… Tuesdays from 7-9 is chessed (giving)…Mondays and Wednesdays…Avrohom is not one of those people.  Together with his family, he delivers hot meals to families dealing with serious illness. Yes he has set times to do it but it doesn’t stop there.  Chessed permeates his every hour. Avrohom drive a bus during his 9-5 work hours but he is not an ordinary driver and his bus is not an ordinary bus. With the permission of his boss,  Avrohom’s bus sports a large sign notifying families in need of help in transporting food packages, meds, personal items – anything to make the life of a sick person easier – from one bus stop to another. And, like any businessperson, he is happiest when lots of “customers” use his services. Avraham we are so proud that you are part of the Ezer Mizion family!!!

Giving underlies every service provided by Ezer Mizion whether it is alleviating the stress of illness, working with a special child or the mentally ill. Many services ease the predicament of the lonely holocaust survivor such as the One Wish program which seeks to strengthen the elderly’s fast receding sense of self.

Like Aspir. She is originally from Ukraine and immigrated to Israel with her brother. Neither one remarried. They are the sole survivors of their family with no future generations to ease their loneliness and the pain of growing old. No children to erase the feeling of helplessness and no grandchildren to give them an identity. She had lived in Israel since World War ll but her childhood roots remained in Ukraine. She longed to connect once again. And so, in barely a whisper, she responded to the ‘What is Your Wish’ question: If at all possible…do you think you could…I heard there is a museum. I forgot what it’s called.  They talk about Ukraine about, you know, about what happened. Maybe I could find something about my home town…the streets… the people….?

Re-living her child in pre-holocaust Ukraine

What a wonderful day it was at Yad v’shem, a day of closure for the lonely golden-ager. The soft smile remained on her lips, accompanying her into her dreams that night. Another wish fulfilled by Ezer Mizion’s Golden Age Program bringing a feeling of identity to so many whose self-image has been gradually becoming nothing more than a room number.

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What Else Can We Do For Them

Golden-ager visiting museum of his youth

He had actually lived there. It wasn’t just a museum exhibit for him. Every detail was part of his youth. He had so much to add. So much color to each display. Each detail he shares is a validation of his own persona, a strengthening of his self-image. There was just one problem. He couldn’t get there on his own.

Years ago, David Arev would frequently visit the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center Museum. But since he became a nursing home resident, travel was impossible. And so there he remained, languishing in the home, his individuality fading as he began to blend into the woodwork and become one with the institution in which he resided.

Until an Ezer Mizion   volunteer approached him. Would he like to participate in the Fulfil -a-Wish program? He leaped at the opportunity and, transported by an Ezer Mizion ambulance,  it was not long before he, together with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, found himself at the museum where he had spent so many happy hours.

Senior visiting Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center Museum

David and his wife are Iraqi-born and were children at the time of the farhud (the pogrom or “violent dispossession” carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad, Iraq, in June 1941, immediately following the British victory in the Anglo-Iraqi War. The riots occurred in a power vacuum following the collapse of the pro-Nazi government of Rashid Ali while the city was in a state of instability.) They both joined the Zionist Underground Movement and later made aliyah to Israel where they married.

At the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center Museum, they enjoyed a guided tour. In the course of the tour, they stopped the guide several times to explain to her on their own about the items on exhibit and share with her their extensive knowledge and hands-on historical experiences.

Like during covid when patients spent so many miserable days and weeks isolated in hospitals with no contact with family, Ezer Mizion was there for them with ‘care packages’ filled with pick-me-up items to embrace them with love and caring. Aesthetically packed cosmetic packages with everything from shampoos, Q-tips, fragrant soaps, creams and warm slippers. Comfort packages with cake and chocolates. Packages of hope and good cheer, Ezer Mizion style.

Corona may pull them down but Ezer Mizion picks them up

The Fulfil a Wish Program is typical of Ezer Mizion sensitivity that stems from the organization’s founder, Rav Chananya Chollak – the ability to zero in on what is needed and find creative ways to provide it.

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The Smile Factory

What is Ezer Mizion? In addition to its Bone Marrow Registry and many other services, it is a factory. And the product? The product is smiles. Sometimes the going is rough. We may not be able to cure the disease but we can ease the pain and bring a smile to a face that hasn’t smiled in days. Like little Rachel* who has seen more pain in her four years than most adults have seen in a lifetime. Chemotherapy has stolen her innocent childhood from her and now she is on the way to Vienna with her mother and twin sister to continue treatment. Her mother packed a suitcase of the basics and Ezer Mizion packed a suitcase of smiles. If there is something that can ease the pain of a sweet little four-year-old girl somewhat, it’s Hello Kitty and so loving hands packed up every imaginable Hello Kitty item… a suitcase of emotional strength for the grueling months ahead. 

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Lonely No More

Holocaust survivor siblings meet after almost 2 years

Aharon Shmueli, a holocaust survivor, is part of a large family but he was lonely.  Confined to his wheelchair and further restricted by covid isolation, he and his eight siblings had not seen each other for two years. When asked by Ezer Mizion to choose a ‘wish’, it took only seconds for his decision: a family get-together. Would Ezer Mizion be able to make it happen? To bring nine elderly siblings, many with mobility problems, together? Aharon’s excitement could not be contained. “Any update?” he would ask whenever he saw the Ezer Mizion staff member. His every daydream was what he wanted to tell them, the eight people in the world with whom he shared a special relationship. As children, they lived through the horrific experience of their escape from Tolousse, France, the terror of hiding out in a farm managed by their father, scared that any moment may be their last. Together they shared the rebuilding of their lives. Marriage. Children. And now old age.  As Sara, one of the sisters, put it, “When we get together, we become children again…connected…strengthened…whole.

The senior citizen residence that was Aharon’s home became the venue and four fully-equipped Ezer Mizion ambulances were set aside to provide transportation for the Shmueli family members who were not able to travel alone. And suddenly there they were. With hugs and kisses. With shouts of joy. Once again sitting around a table together. Laughter and tears. Two years of experiences to share as only brothers and sisters can.

Azaryah Shmueli commented that “for almost two years, we didn’t get together, all of the siblings. In the past, we used to meet at least three times a year. It was really difficult to organize the meeting. Some of the siblings are disabled, some live out of town.”

At the end of their dream-like day, Aharon expressed his feelings with deep emotion.   “Thank you for making my wish a reality.”

Wheelchair-bound, mobility challenged … but together at last

Naomi Mizrachi, director of Ezer Mizion’s “Fulfill a Wish”: “It is a great merit for us to make dreams come true for elderly holocaust survivors. Even when the wish is challenging, we do everything in our power to carry it all out in the best possible way. So far, over a year and a half we’ve been privileged to make about 780 wishes come true. The wishes were as varied as the people making them for one it was a trip to the ocean, for another, it was a shopping trip at the mall. And a third wanted to get together with an old friend whose address she didn’t know. Many wished to visit the kosel(Western Wall). Or daven (pray) once again in the shul (synagogue) of their youth. Tremendous efforts are involved in working out the logistics in a manner that is safe for these precious survivors. (Yes, we found the address of the friend.) But the happiness on the faces of these holocaust heroes is well worth it. ”

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The Only Thing that’s Impossible Is Saying No

“There’s nothing like Ezer Mizion!” These are the words of a grateful employee who…we’ll let her tell her story.

“On Friday afternoon, my niece’s little girl came home from gan with a high fever. She was put to bed but, only a few minutes later,  there in the thick of her erev Shabbos (pre-Sabbath) cooking, ‘something’ pushed my niece to check on her. As her mother stood there in the doorway, the child turned blue, then purple, then black. Terrified, my niece ran outside holding her daughter and screaming for help.  The end of part one is that the hospital diagnosed it as a genetic reaction to sudden high temperatures. The drama was over but now came the practical questions. If they were released on Shabbos (Sabbath) where would they go? My niece was expecting and traumatized. And, in addition, they would want to be near a hospital just in case. So I dialed the number that is often first on the list of every shaken family member. Within moments, I received a call back. A suite is reserved for her at Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s guest home for families dealing with cancer. A lovely suite with all the trimmings. My niece couldn’t stop thanking them. And me? I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the Ezer Mizion family.

She may be right, you know, when she says there’s nothing like Ezer Mizion. What would she have said had she seen Moriah enter Oranit to put smiles on the faces of young cancer patients. What’s unusual about that, you ask. True, it was Moriah’s regular day to come. She comes every week. But today was… her wedding day. Busy? Certainly. But she’s never miss her weekly visit with Ezer Mizion’s cancer kids.

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A Golden-Ager’s Day

An Elderly Holocaust Survivor ‘Comes Home’.

Reb Mordechai was a ninety year old holocaust survivor. On the outside, he was a bent over, frail old man. But on the inside, there lived the memories of a robust, courageous soldier who fought alongside Rabbi Goren in the battle to liberate the Kosel (Western Wall). He trembles with spiritual joy as he recalls the first time he put on t’fillin (phylacteries) at the kosel. ‘Ribono shel Olom (G-d), we’re here!’ his soul cried out. And now, at the twilight of life, he yearned to re-experience that intimate nearness to his Creator. Not that many years ago, he would simply hop on the #1 bus but now, in his senior years, that was impossible. And so he continued to dream, knowing deep inside that there was no way his dream could become reality.

And so it would have continued had he not shared his dream with an acquaintance. Who knew someone…who knew someone…who knew someone who worked in Ezer Mizion. ‘A Make-a-Wish’ program? For elderly, holocaust survivors? Could it possibly happen?’

There were many details to iron out but one day, his heart singing with joy, Reb Mordechai found himself waiting outside the senior citizen home where he lived for the ambulance fully equipped for the mobility challenged.

What a day it was! He was welcomed by a representative of the Kotel Heritage Foundation who brought him to visit the Western Wall Chain of Generation Center. He received a gift of a sefer Tehilim (book of Psalms) with a personal inscription by the Rabbi of the Kotel. Throughout the day he regaled everyone he met with his stories about the battles for the Kotel and Me’aarat Hamachpelah during the Six Day War, keeping his listeners spellbound. 

And then the climax. There it was. What he had seen only in pictures for so many years. In pictures and in his mind’s eye. There it was. Right in front of him. Its stones seeming to reach out to embrace their beloved son. His soul raced towards it, the ambulance driver barely able to keep up. His fingers touched their holiness. His hands shaking, he wrapped himself in his t’fillin. V’erastich li l’olom…(G-d, I am bethrothed to You forever)

Ezer Mizion’s Golden Age Division empowers Israel’s elderly population – many of them Holocaust survivors – to live out their years in comfort, dignity and satisfaction. The Golden Age Division offers an array of services and programs to seniors throughout Israel, including professional home care, social clubs, a make-a-wish program, Alzheimer’s intervention, a home repair program, and more.

In addition, all of Ezer Mizion’s standard services are available to the elderly: food distribution, ambulance and transport, and medical equipment loan are but a few of Ezer Mizion’s programs that benefit Israel’s elderly.

Ezer Mizion’s Fulfilling A Dream program offers the elderly the opportunity to choose an event they wish to experience, something they can look forward to. Ezer Mizion receives requests from social workers or family members of lonely, disabled, elderly people throughout Israel. After reviewing the requests, Ezer Mizion coordinates the logistics of making these dreams come true.

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Whenever, Wherever, Whatever

Royalty Free Clipart Image: Coffee Sitting on a Bistro Cafe Table | Cafe  tables, Table, Homemade chai tea
The Dream of an Elderly Senior

A simple pleasure. One that many people experience on a daily basis. But for Luba, an elderly holocaust survivor, it was never in the forefront of her plans for the day. Now as she reaches her golden years and resides in a senior living home, she discovered the enjoyment of sitting in a café.  Through Ezer Mizion’s Make-A-Wish program which enables the holocaust survivor to strengthen his feelings of ‘me’ by choosing a treat of their own liking, Luba’s friend had requested to re-experience a visit to a café. Traveling to a real one was out of the question for her. Ezer Mizion therefore simulated a café on the grounds of the home. The friend invited Luba and in this way, Luba experienced the enjoyment she had missed in her younger years. Now it was her turn to ‘make a wish. Without a moment’s hesitation, she said, “I want to go to a real cafe.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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Just like the Doctor Ordered

Dementia hurts…

It was three years ago that we heard those words. Words that seemed to have no connection to our lively, personable, on the ball, highly intelligent and perceptive 56 year old father. Dementia? Impossible. But yet the signs were there.  We knew Ezer Mizion had a full program for young dementia patients but we didn’t want our father to be young dementia patient. We ran from doctor to doctor, desperate for a cure. Something to erase the words we were hearing, to make them go away.  The doctors were kind. Each one had a different idea. They ranged from sessions in a pressure chamber to brain surgery. Then came the sixth doctor, who maybe was actually the seventh, the eighth, or the ninth, who’s counting?

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Meron for the Disabled

Every year on Lag Ba’Omer, thousands of Jews from all over the world traditionally gather at Rav Shimon Bar Yocha’s grave in Meron. Everyone comes with their personal story, their struggles and challenges to pray and beg for a salvation. It’s a powerful opportunity nobody wants to miss. But for many people – the elderly, disabled, wheelchair bound and handicapped,  transport complications are way too difficult. For the last 15 years,  Ezer Mizion has overcome a myriad of logistics and  set up an ambulance headquarter around the base of the  Meron mountain, shuttling people from the many parking lots up the mountain, straight to the grave.

At the entrance to Meron is our main headquarter with staff coordinating the requests throughout the day from the many people whose disabilities prevent them from hiking up the mountain.

Our 15 ambulances plus vans transport over 2000 people enabling them to pray on this day of holiness.  The meeting point provides shelters with shaded tents and plenty of drinks for people waiting to be taken back down the mountain.

This awesome operation has received full backing and cooperation from the “National Center for Holy Sites” and the Israel Police

In the merit of all of us working together to provide the funds that enable the vulnerable to partake of this opportunity, may all our prayers be answered!

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