Rena Perlmutter

Do Not Forget the Elderly

There is so much chessed being done throughout the country to show our support and appreciation for our soldiers. A day does not go by without someone posting that they are driving to a base and the soldiers need items, food etc. Whatever the request is, the people fill it. These are amazing endeavors.

As resources and manpower are being directed to our needy soldiers, there are populations who can’t be forgotten. I am writing this article to heighten awareness and sensitivity to the population of elderly who have been relegated to the sidelines because of efforts going out to support the soldiers.  Here are some ways you can help the elderly. 

Realize they are feeling vulnerable.

The elderly are feeling very vulnerable on many levels. They are not able to walk or run as quickly as in their youth, and reach the safe room in a timely fashion like everyone else. Some apartments do not have a safe room and it may not be realistic for them to be able to arrive on time to the shelter. Find the safest place for them to sit during a siren, away from windows in case of glass shattering, or bookshelves that can fall and hurt someone. Always have the chairs in place.  Some elderly may become confused during a siren. Practice drills are important, so it becomes second nature.

Nutrition and basic needs

Make sure the elderly are eating properly. Some rely on soup kitchens or organizations such as Meals on Wheels for their main meal. Some of these organizations are short staffed or have decided to temporarily shut down to help the soldiers. Make sure that the elderly in your community are receiving one hot meal a day.  In addition, because of the war, some seniors are afraid to go out to do their grocery shopping, in case a siren might go off. Make sure to call a senior neighbor and ask if you can pick up something from the supermarket.

The disease of isolation

No matter what age, everyone needs human contact.  The best is a home visit. Sit down and talk to them and find out how they are doing. If you have a funny story, tell it to them, so they can laugh and forget about their fears for a few minutes, if for some reason you are not able to make a home visit, then call and ask how they are. Tell them you were thinking about them. If you live in a building or know someone in your neighborhood who is elderly, do not assume that their children or other family members are making sure that their needs are being taken care of.  Better safe than sorry.  A Shabbat invitation can never hurt.  iI they are being taken care of by family, then it will make them feel happy that someone cares. That is an amazing feeling.

In addition, some elderly go to morning programs for senior citizens and due to the war, they have been canceled until further notice.  That increases the feeling of isolation.

Getting out of the house

Taking a walk is so important for the elderly. Like everyone, exercise is a natural antidepressant.   In addition, for the elderly, walking forces the heart to work and to stay strong. The war will end, but will their hearts be strong enough to enjoy the end of the war?

Extracurricular activities

Help the senior citizens to find activities that they can do during the war. Maybe they used to knit at one time and now would be a good time to go back to knitting.  Without other activities, like the youth, most people are watching the news.  The news is causing people to become anxious, nervous and depressed. Try and find ways to limit their watch time, a very big challenge. 

Rena Perlmutter

Parent Coach

About the Author
Rena Perlmutter is a mother of 5. Originally from California, she has lived in Beit Shemesh for 25 years. With a Bsc in Education, a Ministry of Education Parenting Coach certification, Rena combines DBT and twelve steps in her practice. Rena specializes in coaching parents of teens who are struggling with mental health issues and substance use disorders.