10 MORE Tips for Seniors Many Olim (and Israelis!) Don’t Know About

Our previous post on 10 Hidden Benefits for Seniors got so much great feedback that we decided to generate a second list, revealing 10 tips for senior care in Israel.

Medical Devices

Reduced fee emergency alarm buttons: Yad Sarah is an organization accessible through numerous branches throughout the country. An issue of acute concern to seniors and their families is often making sure that necessary care is accessible in an emergency. Yad Sarah offers an Emergency Alarm Response System at a significantly discounted fee. The package includes a panic button that connects to a family member, emergency services and even to a 24-hour call center. Additionally, Yad Sarah offers a plethora of medical devices, either on loan or for purchase, along with a knowledgeable staff to help in making the right purchase.

Free pressure redistribution mattresses: For bedridden patients, an automated mattress pad is a boon to preventing pressure ulcers (otherwise known as bed sores.) The pad contains air cells that are continually inflated and deflated, which relieves pressure points and promotes better circulation. If your parent’s doctor has recommended this device, it can be borrowed through Yad Sarah for up to three months, after which a patient may be entitled to have the cost of purchased paid through the Health Ministry.

Free trials of all medical devices: If there is a need for medical equipment, but there is uncertainly surrounding which piece might suit best, visit one of the 10 Yad Sarah Exhibition and Guidance Centers available nationwide. The center is designed as a model apartment where seniors (or anyone!) can try out adaptive equipment from shower chairs to closed circuit TVs to gadgets for cooking.

Parking and Transportation

Free parking at the hospital: Free parking at government hospitals is available for patients who fit into pre-determined categories such as outpatient dialysis patients and cancer patients undergoing particular treatment. This benefit extends to include 100% reimbursement of public transportation, 50% coverage of taxi fare and depending on your insurance plan, a partial reimbursement of the expenses of travel by private vehicle. More information about this can be obtained through a hospital social worker.

Medical Coverage

Check your insurance: Automatic, immediate medical insurance coverage through Kupat Holim is an attractive perk for seniors making Aliyah. Until someone formally makes Aliyah, however, regardless of whether they are in Israel for a short-term or long-term visit, they are not covered by Kupat Holim. We recommend checking both health and life insurance policies prior to arriving in Israel, and getting written confirmation that they are covered, even when outside their country of origin. Also, check if their policy covers passive & active war and terror – this is a benefit included in most Israeli insurance policies, so if they are staying long-term and aren’t covered, they may want to consider supplementing with, or switching to, an Israeli policy.

Reduced ambulance fees: When you call an ambulance, even those covered by Kupot Holim may be charged for the ride if they are not hospitalized (depends on the company). Check with your Kupah if your circumstances entitle you to a reimbursement for part of the fee under the basic plan or supplemental plan. We’ve heard of people who have successfully challenged fees not covered by the Kupah. Usually, if a doctor writes a referral for the ambulance or the central phone switchboard for the Kupah has authorized the ambulance call, it will be covered.

Foreign Workers

Pension rules for foreign caretakers: As part of the care package for infirm or partially infirm patients in Israel, there is a good deal of economic assistance available toward hiring and paying a foreign caretaker. Employers of foreign workers, however, must take care to uphold all pertaining labor laws. They must set aside a pension fund (pension + severance pay) for each worker in an amount equal to 12.5% (as of January 2017) of the full minimum wage. The sum breaks down to 6.5% for pension and 6% for severance. If the worker receives part of his/her salary from an agency, then the agency is responsible for paying into a State Deposit Fund the pension fund amount related to their part of the salary – and the employer should set aside the rest of the amount. As of January 2017, minimum wage in Israel is NIS 5,000/month.

Location rules for foreign workers: The Israeli governmental regulations surrounding foreign caregivers are designed to prevent caregivers from leaving employers in remote areas in favor of securing work in a more central location, or changing employers without “good” reason. The country is divided into 3 geographic areas: 1: Tel Aviv, Center (not including Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem), 2: Center, including Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem) and 3: Periphery (Northern & Southern Districts, Judea & Samaria). When a foreign caregiver enters Israel for the first time, the area(s) in which s/he is permitted to work is set in the visa.

The way this works is like this: if the employer lives in Tel Aviv, the caregiver is allowed to work in Tel Aviv, the Center and the Periphery. If the employer lives in the Center, the caregiver may work in Center and the Periphery. If the employer lives in the Periphery, the caregiver can work in the Periphery only.

Extra hour entitlement: If a senior is entitled to “Level B” or “Level C” long-term care benefit from Bituach Leumi (Hok Siyud) he or she is entitled to 1.5-3 additional hours per week if an Israeli caregiver is hired, as opposed to a foreign worker. But take note! Once a permit is filed to hire a foreign caregiver, those additional hours are automatically cancelled. Still, as long as the foreign worker is not yet employed, a request can be made to freeze the permit and get the hours back by filing a request with the Population and Immigration Authority.

For Holocaust Survivors

Free English language programming: Café Europa offers social and support opportunities for Holocaust survivors living around the world. In Jerusalem, Café Europa includes special programming for English speakers. The program has five branches including Rehavia, Pisgat Ze’ev and Beit Hakerem. Each café serves as a meeting place where survivors can enjoy a social and cultural experience, and a resource center where trained professionals assist survivors in accessing and maximizing the rights and services to which the city’s general elderly sector, and the survivor population in particular, are entitled.
Café Europa’s mobile “Café on Wheels” for homebound survivors provides computers, a library and visits by trained multi-lingual volunteers. For more information: Email: Tel: 0525774736

Living Wills

Take control of end-of-life documentation by executing a Living Will. The Terminally Ill Patient Law enacted in 2006 allows any person, even when in good health, to leave written instructions regarding the treatment they would like to receive, or not to receive, in the case of becoming terminally ill. The Living Will must be filed with the Ministry of Health. The Living Will can be combined with a Health Care Proxy, designating a specific person and advocate to execute the wishes.

We at B’Lev Shalem hope that taking note of these tips surrounding senior rights and benefits will give you and your family the ability to be available to enjoy the real treasures of life together in Israel.

Should you feel you’d benefit from access to information like this regularly, please come join us in our Sandwich Generation Israel Facebook group. We provide information and facilitation, and the community provides recommendations, insight, and support.

About the Author
Sharon Beth-Halachmy is Founder and CEO of B'Lev Shalem, a senior care management company in Israel. She and her team of Care Managers work tirelessly to address the full spectrum of needs unique to seniors in Israel, from the routine of daily living to medical oversight, community and advocacy. B'lev Shalem's expert Care Managers ensure maximum independence and quality of life for seniors in Israel, and peace of mind for their families worldwide.
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