Source: Jewish Home Family

As we can all well attest, it has been an incredibly long year, especially, of course, since March when COVID-19 first made its presence known in our communities.  For those of us who work with older adults and in long term residential settings, we were embroiled in a battle with a devious and treacherous enemy. And the enemy held all the cards.  We had no weapons, no strategy and no tactics and there were no reinforcements to help us. We were isolated and on our own.

But we fought back, especially those of us in the nonprofit world, because our sole focus was the wellbeing of our elders.  Our staff had to be strong and well because they had to help our elders to stay well or help them to heal.  As colleagues, we helped and supported each other.  We shared information and ideas, resources and contacts.  And we got through some of the most difficult days any of us have ever faced.

We don’t know what lies ahead.  We, like you, are carefully monitoring the rate of spread and hospitalization.  We are remaining vigilant within our walls and encouraging our staff as well as the family members of our elders to remain vigilant as well.  This is not the moment to let down our guard.  The risk is too great.

Yet in spite of this uncertainty, we find ourselves focused on renewal and rebuilding.  Our buildings hum with life and, while activities might look different with social distancing and masking, they are still present. Exercise, music, lectures and laughter are all on the agenda because we know that life has to also be stimulating and engaging.

We have been reaching out into our community and we continue to do that, stretching our reach even further than before through the use of the Internet. Live daily online exercise programs have been joined by community outreach offerings of all types.  Want to do dancercise? We have it. Interested in a support group for those with Parkinson’s disease?  It is there for you.  Missing your book club? Join ours and share ideas with us.  Technology has made it possible for us to offer so much and there are so many, outside our walls, who can, and do, benefit.

Our role in the community is a vital one—to care for those who most need care, the elderly and the vulnerable.  It is what we do and what we have always done.  During the worst days of the COVID crisis, that obligation and commitment to care drove us to operate like mini-hospitals, to step up our medical care to meet the needs that had to be met. We continue to provide outstanding care and we know that care alone is not enough.

We will do all that needs to be done to fight this virus, to keep our elders well and our staff strong.  And we will also remember our commitment to care for the mind and spirit as well as the body—making life for our elders, wherever they live, both enriching and fulfilling.

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 chair-elect of LeadingAge and past chair of the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
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