Since its inception in 1979, Ezer Mizion’s mission has been to provide assistance to the ill and the elderly and disabled. In an effort to meet the needs of the elderly and their caregivers. “Kesher Bitnuah” – “Bonding Through Motion” – is a new service created by Ezer Mizion’s Geriatric Services Department in cooperation with Eshel (an arm of the Joint) to teach family members and caregivers how to supervise and implement guided physical activity with their elderly relatives.
The project’s secondary goal is the preservation and improvement of the elderly homebound individual’s level of functioning, which will contribute towards his physical and emotional wellness.
The project’s primary goal is to ease the difficulties many adult children, grandchildren and family members experience in their role as elder caregivers. The physical fitness activity serves as a medium for creating a positive bonding experience for the caregiver with his elderly charge.
The role reversal from child into child-parent, where the child becomes the one caring for the parent is frequently to cause for great emotional distress for the caregiver. In addition, as the elderly homebound person’s capacities regress, there are less and less areas of interest and things to talk about. Many caregivers report on the terrible strain they feel when their relationship with their elderly family member centers on the same dull issues day after day and eventually dries up. This wears the caregivers down and is a source of deep frustration and negative feelings for them, which the project comes to remedy.
In addition to addressing the issue of the family member’s view of him/herself as caregiver, the project also deals with their attitude toward the elderly person’s capabilities and function. Many caregivers are convinced that their elder loved one’s functional limitations are more severe than they truly are. “My mother could never do that”, or “She used to be able to but not anymore”, are sentiments that repeatedly surface. The project gives the caregiver tools to recognize latent capacity, instills belief in the elderly person’s abilities and teaches techniques and strategies to maintain and stretch them beyond the current level of function.
The project is a source of significant empowerment for the caregiver by attitude alteration toward himself as a caregiver and toward his elderly family member. Communication is improved, vitality is restored and new vistas are opened for the caregiver which radiates in a ripple effect to the elder person and to their environment.
In a series of four lecture/workshop sessions of four hours each, followed by individual supervision in the elderly person’s home, the spouse or child learns how to engage his relative in physical activity. The activities are geared towards maintaining maximum independence in everyday functions such as dressing, positional change and mobility in the home.
The target population in the pilot project are family members/caregivers of 60 elderly people, from Bnei Brak and Petach Tikvah, who are currently being served by Ezer Mizion’s Home Care Services Department. They include sons, daughters, spouses, and grandchildren. The individuals being cared for are mobility impaired but are able to communicate.
Family member who wish to take part in the training course are screened to ensure commitment and suitability. Questionnaires filled out by the caretaking relative at the end of the training sessions and again at the close of the supervision period will be closely examined by an outsourced researcher and assessed by project directors in order to plan the continuation and expansion of the project in future phases and in additional locations.