It’s time for lunch and Bracha*, the home attendant, prepared a nice meal of tuna salad with sliced pickles just the way her patient, Chaya* likes it. The corn soup was in the green bowl, Chaya’s favorite. “Come, Chaya. I made you such a nice lunch. Chaya raced to the table and, in a fury, hurled the corn soup at Bracha and dumped the plate of tuna into the garbage. In horror, Bracha watched as each slice of pickle she had so lovingly prepared flew across the kitchen. “You hate me! You’re trying to poison me!” Hurt? Probably. Sad? It was a beautiful lunch. Frustrated? Well, she is human… Angry? Of course not. Bracha is an Ezer Mizion home attendant and has absorbed the caring, compassionate and understanding ambience of the organization. She knew it was the Alzheimers that was making Chaya act this way.
“Come, Chaya,” she crooned with her arms around her patient. “Don’t cry. You know I love you. Just sit down for a few minutes and I’ll make you another lunch just the way you like it.”
We all have met up, at some time or other, with people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Seeing their inability to function independently is frightening. We look at them and their family members with compassion. But that’s them. We are we. We are not members of that club. The Dementia Club. We chuckle a bit the next time we forget our keys but we know it’s normal. Certainly not a sign of the D-word.
And then one day, Chaya, a perfectly normal woman, your neighbor, the one you went shopping with a couple of weeks ago. The one who helped you out your washing machine broke. That neighbor whom you’ve shared your woes in raising your kids as you both waited for their school bus each morning – she said something strange. It wasn’t the first time. You glanced up at her and were shocked to see that her face looked different – confused, helpless. Continue reading Dementia: Us and Them
Malka* was enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee. Lunches were made for tomorrow. The laundry was in the drier and Malka’s father had gone to bed early. She was about to reach for something to read, a rare luxury, when the bell rang. It was after eleven. Who could that be? Coffee forgotten, Malka’s heart began to flutter. She pressed the intercom button and, her voice trembling, asked who it was. The voice was hesitant, a bit embarrassed. A neighbor was just coming home from evening prayers and…She ran to open the door and there stood the neighbor with her father, dressed in pajamas, barefoot and looking very confused. Continue reading Alzheimer’s: Color Me Black.
This journey of mine into the heart of the Ezer Mizion world enters its eighth week. Every week, I reveal another chapter here, in our little corner. So far, we have only touched on a small fraction of the sweeping empire of activity.
Throughout this ongoing overview, during which I have met up with the people at work and have seen the various projects in action, I cannot help asking myself one question – a rather frightening one: What if all this did not exist? These are not government systems under official auspices. They are complementary, civilian, alternative systems. They are the product of private initiatives, supported by donations. They are a bonus that our civilian society is privileged to have at its disposal and that are so basic and self-understood!
Question: What does a family do when their loved one is stricken with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia?
The medical establishment will do its part to the best of its ability (in this case, that is easy enough: to inform the family that there is nothing to do…). But what’s next? How do you deal with a new reality in which a father or grandfather gradually loses his awareness and becomes helpless and disconnected, while his body remains whole and healthy? How do you protect him? How do you relate to him? How do you bear the pain and frustration? What do you do?
You turn to Ezer Mizion. And what do you do in situations that are not quite so miserable, when you simply reach a stage where you are compelled to assist a parent or other relative who is gradually losing his independence and leaning on the care of others?
You turn to Ezer Mizion.
There, families of Alzheimer’s patients find their first hope for redemption from their impossible situation. They are presented with a course of action that ends up easing not only their burden, but the life of the patient himself. This takes place at the Organization’s Alzheimer’s Support Center, serving very many families in Israel.
This work is only a small part of the comprehensive system Ezer Mizion operates for the benefit of seniors and their families. Here, these precious elderly people, who initiated and established and exerted efforts and lovingly prepared everything for those who are now compelled to care for them and assist them – are given the special attention they have earned. A huge division of Ezer Mizion pools within it the spectrum of services needed by the senior and his family with an emphasis on setting up the environment so that the elderly individual will receive the optimum care.
Caregiver services, a counseling center, an empowerment center, walking groups, a variety of workshops, visits by volunteers, the Bonding with Motion program (a fascinating project that I intend to expand upon in the future) and more, without bounds.
I find it amazing. That there is an address. That there is somewhere to turn. That there is a way to ease pain that is not physical. That there is someone to talk to. That there is – Ezer Mizion.
Tzipporah Fried Alzheimer Support Center hosted a hands-on day event at Ezer Mizion’s Jacob Fried Building in Bnei Brak that included a music workshop and a phototherapy workshop. The program was geared for family member caregivers of Alzheimer patients who are living at home. The event gave caregivers an empowering experience, a chance to get out, and tools for working with the patient at home. Audience response was enthusiastic and impressive. Since we had workshops, rather than speakers, space was limited and advance registration was required. 64 caregivers took part in the program coming from as far as Jerusalem, Haifa, and even one all the way from Tzefat. Participants indicated high satisfaction on feedback forms. Primarily, they expressed the real need to hold more events like this one.
When the doctor made his diagnosis and informed us that all the phenomena we had noticed recently in my mother were symptoms of Alzheimer’s, I was at a real loss.
I am an only daughter, my two brothers live abroad, and I just did not know how I would be able to deal with this distressing diagnosis.
Baruch Hashem, my neighbor told me that in Rosh Ha’ayin the city where I live, , there is a branch of the Ezer Mizion Tzipporah Fried Alzheimer Support Center, established specifically to offer a response to this kind of problem.
The pleasant demeanor and warm smile with which they greeted me at the center were like a breath of fresh air. I received an efficient, professional response. Continue reading A Letter Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters
I was confused and helpless. My mother was afflicted with Alzheimers and I was at loss as to how to deal with it. What would contribute to her well-being? What would be detrimental? What activities, projects will she benefit from? I wanted to help but had no idea how. Continue reading Kinetic and Connected – for Seniors
Kivun Chadash – Gimla’im
July 16, 2014
By: Dahava Eyal
A new program training volunteers to assist seniors with cognitive decline
Earlier this month we gathered at the Tarbut Aleh café for the first get-together of “Kinetic and Connected” volunteers, along with representatives of our partners in the project – the Emda organization, Ezer Mizion, and Aleh Rechovot. Continue reading “Kinetics and Connected”
I first heard about the program from Varda Kahana, director of the Ezer Mizion branch here in Rechovot, and from Anat Yules, the director of the Municipality’s Div
ision for the Benefit of Senior Citizens. I shared the Aleh organization’s interest in expanding and developing additional services for target populations of seniors with impaired function in order to continue actualizing the organization’s goals and contribute to enhancement of the quality of life for the elderly population in the city. They shared with me the details of the innovative program for the benefit of seniors with cognitive decline that had been in existence for several years.