When dementia strikes at a young age, the tragedy is twice as terrible. Life as it was until now changes, even turns upside down. Every small action becomes a challenge. The struggle is not simple for the patient and for the immediate family.
Roni Klein, 60, father of two, was diagnosed a year and a half ago with “frontal-temporal dementia.” Roni participates in a range of activities at Ezer Mizion’s activity club for young dementia patients. “When I got the diagnosis, I went into initial shock. But very soon, I decided to fight for what I still had. There was also terrible anxiety about the future.
“Ezer Mizion’s club is a ray of light for me. There are wonderful people here and it makes me very happy to come, meet people who have become my friends and understand me and my need. I really enjoy the fitness program, music, art and gardening activities.”
The Tzipporah Fried Family Support Center runs support groups for spouses of young dementia patients. At this time, an additional support group is opening for the children of young patients.
Tzipporah Fried Family Support Center, a project of Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services, provides an array of support services and assistance to Alzheimer’s patients and their families, creating a unique response for this target population.
Just like that, with a simple message, without a lot of noise, a member of one of the Ezer Mizion branches sums up the events of one evening:
In the middle of a Daf Yomi shiur (daily study session of Talmud), a friend, one of the participants , asked me to come with him right then (!) to a house where the wife had called for urgent help. As Ezer Mizion volunteers, we often receive calls like this. The woman was frantic saying her husband was having an anxiety attack. We were qualified to handle the situation and raced out. Continue reading A Cushion for Every Need
Each one was unique yet each one was the same. Each reflected an individualized situation much exacerbated by the Covid-19 situation. Yet each one was a desperate plea, “Please help me!’ sent to the address they have come to rely upon. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life is a whatsapp network spanning Israel and around the globe which receives requests that are as varied as those that send them. It may be a need for transport for an oncology patient, delivery of vital meds, putting together a Bar Mitzvah for a boy whose father is in serious condition, picking up medical equipment for a patient who cannot be released from the hospital without it. The list goes on and on.
During the pandemic, the Linked to Life networks were on fire. Requests didn’t stop. Linked to Life coordinated with other divisions of Ezer Mizion and was there for everyone in their time of need. Was it ten requests, a hundred, two hundred? and make no mistake. Each request did not have a one-step resolution. ‘I would check the network and come back half a day later and see 600 more.’ said a staff member who had access to the network. See chart above for the amazing numbers, all performed by our dedicated Ezer Mizion volunteers.
At the same time, all the other Ezer Mizion divisions – Bone Marrow Registry, Golden Age, Special Needs, Mental Health, Cancer Support, Transportation, Food Disbursement – were working at full speed. If we were to add those numbers, the totals would be mind boggling! How does this happen? Because of you, our invaluable friends and supporters!
It’s all hands on deck in the battle of the current world wide war on the coronavirus. Ezer Mizion, known for its International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry, is focusing the energies of all of its numerous departments into dealing with countless crises brought about by the virus. We spoke with Dassy in Israel who is at the epicenter of it all. Continue reading Corona: Speaking from the Field
Always on the lookout for means of fulfilling the needs of vulnerable segments of the population, Ezer Mizion has recently opened a new physical fitness center for men dealing with mental health issues. The center focuses on weight lifting, muscle strengthening, and nutrition training. Its long-term mission is to prepare the client for gainful employment, enabling him to gradually re-enter mainstream society. Continue reading Serving Israel’s Mentally Ill
Hundreds of rabbis from across the country participated in a “Medicine and Halachah (Jewish Law) ” conference at the Convention Center in Haifa, organized by Maccabi Health Services. Maccabi is committed to provide uncompromising professional and efficient medical service, while adapting its advanced services and making them accessible to the religious public. This is accomplished through an open line of communication, sensitivity to the special needs, and constant consultation with the community’s rabbinic leaders. Maccabi proves, in practice, that ‘medicine according to halachah’ is possible and desirable. This conference created a positive connection between the religious communities and Maccabi. Continue reading Medicine and Jewish Law
Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Department has hosted one of its many informational evenings. The subject of this recent event was on Mental Health and Marriage. Questions such as when is marriage recommended for someone dealing with mental health issues, what type of spouse to look for, how to maintain a happy, healthy home were addressed. Continue reading Strike A Match – Part 2
Stigma — one of the more difficult aspects of mental illness that patients and their families encounter again and again — is the subject that took center stage at the annual seminar held by the Ezer Mizion Mental Health Division’s Family Counseling Center, together with Israel’s Health Department.
The well-known authority in the field, Professor Avraham Weizman, head of the Mental Health Center research unit at Geheh and director of the Flossenstein Center for Medical Research at Tel Aviv University is deeply involved with people in this sector and is in constant contact with Chananya Chollak, Ezer Mizion International Chairman. Prof. Weizman discussed the effects of stigma in the overall protocol when dealing with mental health patients. The statistical data and studies he presented were intended to refute many of the common stigmas regarding people with mental illness.
Chananya Chollak spoke about the damage that concealment causes by preventing people from obtaining the appropriate treatment in time. He called upon the public to display responsibility and get help as soon as possible, so as to increase the chances of optimistically resuming life routine. How many times have professional staff members cried to him, saying, “If only he had come to be treated earlier! The prognosis would have been so much better.”
Prominent community leader, Rabbi Moshe Stein, a dayan on Rav Wosner’s beis din, discussed the halachic (Jewish Law) issues relating to mental health. He emphasized that it is important to present the true story to the Rabbis who will be discreet in advising when and how much should be revealed and to whom.
Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein, mayor of Bnei Brak, greeted the seminar attendees and lauded the tremendous contribution of Ezer Mizion in general, and particularly their Mental Health Division, to the Jewish people. Ezer Mizion offers a variety of psychological support services and rehabilitative programs for people suffering from psychological disorders, emotional issues and mental illnesses. These services include:
A Big Brother/Sister Program that pairs individuals suffering from mental illnesses with trained mentors who provide companionship, offer assistance with basic daily function, and teach the skills necessary for independent living.
Rehabilitative employment centers that provide mentally handicapped people with basic vocational training and employment, and ease their integration into free market employment.
A psychological referral team that recommends appropriate psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors to people grappling with emotional disturbances, mental health issues or difficult relationships.
A network of psychiatrists and psychologists throughout Israel who provide their services at a discount to patients referred by Ezer Mizion.
A 24-hour crisis hotline for non-medical emergencies, including mental health crises such as suicide attempts or severe manic episodes.
As the seminar closed, the hundreds of participants expressed great satisfaction at having received so much knowledge and empowerment in the subject of mental health as a whole, and specifically in the area of stigmas. Attendees hope to have more similar lectures which will gradually affect public opinion and look forward to a time when mental illness will present no more of a stigma than any medical condition.
Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.
Yona is the wife of a schizophrenia patient. Life hasn’t been easy for her. Dealing with mental illness is a frightening nightmare only made worse by the loneliness. Mental illness is not something you share with the neighbors. On the outside, she is a bubbly mother of a large family, discussing the woes of a washing machine breakdown with another mother as they sit on the park bench together. On the inside, however, she is slowly falling apart because of a different type of breakdown – the breakdown of a strong, supportive husband, the breakdown of a family. Yona is a heroine, trying to go it alone but she worries how long she can go on. When will she herself break down?
Bravely, she had made her way to the Ezer Mizion office. Maybe. Maybe they can help a bit. What she received was so much more than she had hoped for. Continue reading In Lieu of Mommy