New Horizons

This morning we held our monthly meeting of our key management staff. That’s a group of about 20 people and I like to start each session with an icebreaker, a chance for people to learn more about each other and connect on a personal level. Today my icebreaker question was “What was the best advice you ever got and who gave it to you?” People shared some wonderful answers with advice that came from parents, teachers, mentors and others. It led me to continue asking the question of folks throughout the course of the day. One of the responses I received really resonated with me. It was “always look for new horizons,” which really meant to keep learning, growing and experiencing new things.

It is particularly timely right now as we prepare to take another Mission to Israel with our residents.  We are taking two residents who live in our nursing home and five from our assisted living. Each resident has a buddy who is a member of our staff.  The buddies are traveling companions who make it possible for these older adults to manage this kind of major travel.  We take a nurse with us as well whose job is solely to manage medications.  It’s vital for us to be sure that everyone has their medication and that we have full knowledge of what they took and when.

Our schedule is a full one, each day filled with sites and learning.  We truly miss nothing that any other Mission group would do including making our way to the top of Masada (yes, we use the cable car as far as it goes but it is still a good climb from there) and floating in the Dead Sea.  We go to the Western Wall, on a tour of the Old City, on a boat in the Galilee, to the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv and so much more.  We’re on the bus by 8:30 in the morning and we don’t come back to the hotels until it is time for dinner.

There are some who wonder what possesses us to take a group of medically complex older adults on a trip this intense. I think the answer is the advice that was shared with me earlier today. That is “new horizons.”  For many of our travelers, this trip is the dream of a lifetime, a goal that they never thought they would be able to fulfill. They think that they have missed their moment, that their chance has passed them by.  When we tell them that they can do this, that we will help them achieve that which seems impossible, their joy is boundless.

I have had the privilege of doing this kind of trip with residents four time in the past. Each time it is an incredible experience. To watch the resident’s faces as they see the country they have longed to see, to hear them marvel at seeing sites of history and religious significance that they have only read about, to listen to them ask great questions of our guide and hang on his every word—that is truly the meaning of “new horizons.”

We don’t all have to take on an adventure of this magnitude to experience our own “new horizons.” There are opportunities every day to learn, explore and experience—and to help others to do the same. What is your next “new horizon?”  How will you make that happen and help to make it happen for others in your life?

About the Author
Carol Silver Elliott is President and CEO of The Jewish Home Family, which runs NJ's Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living, Jewish Home Foundation and Jewish Home at Home. She joined The Jewish Home Family in 2014. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Cedar Village Retirement Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a member of the boards of LeadingAge and the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
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