I heard that there were rock concerts in Laguna Woods. While I haven’t gotten there yet, I might just drive up in my red convertible in 20 or 30 years. Maybe I’ll just stay home – that is, live in my own home – until I’m 90. Just call me “the queen of denial.” Some of my best friends do. But I’m not alone.
Consider another scenario. Mike M., 50, married late. He now has a small child and an aging mother, and he spends his non-working hours on the freeway trying to be the caretaker for both. He needs help with his balancing act to gain control of his life before he’s ready to explore his own journey into being a senior in a few years.
Aging in America in the 21st century is undergoing a metamorphosis. The first members of the baby boomer generation turned 65 last year. Ten thousand people turn 65 each day. Advances in medicine point to a larger and healthier cadre of senior citizens in the future. Many are likely to have different lifestyles than their parents. Still, there will be legal, financial and medical problems to sort out, and maybe there will be unanticipated situations.
These baby boomers – the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 – will transform aging in this country over the next decade and beyond, according to a panel of experts at the Aging in America Conference in Washington in April. In the years between 2000 and 2020 the population of Americans age 55 to 64 will have grown 73 percent, according to Ken Dychtwald, president and CEO of the consulting firm AgeWave. “Anyone who thinks [the boomers] will turn 65 and be the same as the generation before are missing out on the last 60 years of sociology,” he said. “The boomers change every stage of life through which they migrate. They are going back to school at 40 and coming back from illness to run a marathon at 80.”
“The new seniors won’t be content to sit and rock on the front porch,” said Cally Clein, LCSW, coordinator, Holocaust Survivor Services, Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS). Michele Walot, a JFFS volunteer, added, “Seniors are looking for so much more, because the world is changing.”
Heritage Pointe, the 200-resident Jewish community for seniors in Mission Viejo, realized the changing needs too. According to Ellen Weiss, Heritage Pointe director of development, “Our mission is to care for Jewish seniors wherever they are.” Fred Forster, chairman of Jewish Home Care Services, Inc., which oversees both Heritage Pointe at Home and Seacrest at Home in San Diego, added, “We began to realize that many people really want to stay in their own homes.” Figuring that people who move into Heritage Pointe from Laguna Woods must have neighbors who aren’t ready to move, the organization compiled a survey, created a task force chaired by Jodi Greenbaum (former president of JFFS and Women’s Philanthropy) and Heritage Pointe at Home was born.
“We recognized that the community needed home care services that were particularly sensitive to Judaism,” explained Kelli Denton, the newly hired director of the new home care operation, which is slated to launch in November. Denton, who worked as a registered nurse for more than 30 years and as an administrator in the home care business in New York, said that the study determined that the residents of Laguna Woods would use the services of a home care agency sensitive to Jewish culture. An extensive training program will include education about Jewish customs, traditions, holidays, kashrut and the Holocaust.
Services will be available for seniors requiring non-medical assistance and care in their homes. After a brief screening over the phone, there will be an initial in-person assessment with the senior and family members to determine the individual’s needs for daily living. There will also be a safety assessment to be sure the individual will be safe at home. Then, Heritage Pointe at Home will develop a care plan for each client and match clients with members of a pool of caregivers. Greenbaum expects “to bring the same care Heritage Pointe is known for into the home.” Denton describes the process as a “canopy approach” for senior care.
“Sometimes, the best way to stay independent is to get help,” said Lauren Klein, a member of Heritage Pointe’s task force and a longtime JFFS volunteer. “The need is huge, and it takes more than one agency to provide linkages in the community.”
JFFS has many services for seniors. One of its programs is a partnership with the city of Irvine that began after months of meeting with Irvine residents and service providers, according to Terri Moses, director of human services and program sustainability. “TrueNeighbors Village is a membership-based program that fosters and supports the concept of neighbor-helping-neighbor so that older members of our community can live healthy, enriched, meaningful lives,” according to the JFFS website.
The first village “neighborhood” has been launched at Woodbridge Manor affordable housing in Irvine, and the second one is in the works at The Meadows mobile home park. Included are concierge services to bring volunteers or dependable service providers into the home, social and recreational activities, clubs, websites, caring connections to check up on people who are isolated or newly released from the hospital and meals. There is a low membership fee.
The concept is popular all over the U.S. Currently, there are 89 such villages, and 123 are being established, Moses said. JFFS is looking for volunteers of all ages – whether they are healthy seniors looking to help their counterparts or teenagers looking to do something meaningful with their service hours.
As good as it is to be independent, “One precipitating event can cause seniors and their families to grab for any solution to a critical need, so we have to get people to think ahead,” Walot remarked. That’s why JFFS is trying to reach out to strengthen the community response and harness the power of people knowledgeable about senior services.
A November 11 event, funded by a JFFS grant and held at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot (SHM) in Irvine, will bring such professionals together. “The idea evolved when Rabbi Richard Steinberg of SHM invited people who were caring for aging parents to a meeting – people looking for resources, such as handling power of attorney, memory issues and so forth,” explained Michele Carmeli, the chair of the event, who runs a law practice with her husband and witnesses elder abuse in the financial arena. “We decided to provide a free conference for the Jewish community and all of Orange County to educate people about the issues and resources available for seniors.”
The event, called Chicken Soup for the Silver Soul, will have a keynote address from Mark Victor Hansen, author of the “Chicken Soup” books. There will be 20 speakers, 30 vendors and numerous breakout sessions to address the issues of aging. “We’re encouraging people to get an overview of available services and bringing in experts from the Orange County Office on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association, board and care facilities, insurance companies, UCI and Hoag, along with Jewish agencies, so that people can look at medical, psychological, emotional and financial issues and more,” Carmi said.
Because aging is a family journey, the program will help multigenerational families to prepare for both sudden and gradual change in the needs of seniors. Topics will include navigating the legal and financial waters, lifestyle and residential options, brain health, confronting uncomfortable issues, caregiving, transportation, embracing the life journey and living through endings.
“We want to make sure that people are not making a last-minute decision in crisis,” Clein summarized. “Society focuses on the here and now.”
Chicken Soup for the Silver Soul
Sunday, November 11
9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’a lot
Keynote Speaker: Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of Chicken
Soup for the Soul Series
More than a dozen experts in
aging, dealing with the challenges and joys that come with aging
Heritage Pointe Gala
The Art of Caring
Sunday, November 11, 6 p.m.
Heritage Pointe will say “thank you” in a special way by honoring Brion and Bonnie Jeannette at “The Art
of Caring,” its 22nd Annual Gala.
Co-chairs Jacquee and Mel Lipson are past Gala honorees and
former Gala chairs.
in Orange County
Orange County Chapter
Bubbe & Zayde’s Place
Assisted Living in a Family Setting
Kosher Residence Facility
(714) 432-7700 or (949) 478-8701
Jewish Home for the
Aging of Orange County
Residential and In-Home Services
In-Home Care Solutions
InSphere Insurance Solutions
Health Plans for Medicare Eligibles
Jewish Federation & Family Services
Older Adult Services
Luxury Senior Living
Professional Health Care Services
In-Home Care Needs
(888) 534-8082 or (714) 554-0878
Memory Care Community
(866) 983-6763 or (714) 507-7000