GetHealthHelp

A Patient Advocate's View

Letting Go of Perfection

Earlier, at about 3AM I was awakened by a call from a nursing home that one of my clients had passed. It wasn’t unexpected because she had been suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s for several years and had been praying to be released from this terrible disease. Her family, friends and I were happy that she could spend several years at Atria Kew Gardens where she enjoyed continuing her lifelong passion of eating healthy, working out with her personal trainer, Val and walking to Church on Sundays. In her final months she found comfort in living with the sisters at Ozanamhall.

This isn’t my first call to Schwartz Brothers where I make pre-planned funeral arrangements for all my clients, including my husband who passed at this same time of year. Actually I have been making these kind of calls for the past ten years. Most times I am the only person at the funeral, besides a few friends and their home health aide. My practice focuses on elderly people who don’t have anyone to help them or they only have people who are just not available because they live far away or are elderly themselves, our elder orphans. It’s always comforting to know that their wishes will be carried out.

Regardless of how well you plan and how much you know that the person welcomed their release, it is still a time of grief and all that goes with it. I have been working with a Widow Coach to understand my own grief process for the past year. The most helpful thing I learned was that we can’t change what is, but we can change how we think about it. So, keeping in mind the 90 second rule, I let myself dwell on the fact that I hadn’t changed the beneficiary on her life insurance which was needed for her Medicaid application and that I hadn’t gotten to bring her the framed poster I planned to give her for Christmas, with a personalized message from the Pope.

Since I was now wide awake, I started my day as usual checking emails and Facebook Groups. Usually I am pretty stoic, but one of the posts was a copy of a Eulogy from a son about his father. It was written in such a loving. funny way, even though the topic of discussion was someone known to be loud, abrasive and aloof. It really touched me that even though this person was far from perfect, he left only the good memories and any hard feelings were buried with him. Reading now through tears, I opened a daily email I get called the Daily Om. It’s a short daily inspirational message. It’s one of the few things I do in a day that has nothing to do with seniors or patients. The title for today is Letting Go of Perfection. It was a reminder that being imperfect is human and that trying to be perfect only leads to frustration and unhappiness.

This is a time of year for celebration and joy, but if this year of Covid, Lock Downs and Economic Uncertainty have taught us anything, it is that nothing will be perfect. We can only hope for the best and do what we can under the circumstances. I wish the gift of forgiveness for yourself to all my friends, colleagues and clients. I send you forgiving thoughts for any one or anything you are holding in your head or heart. I promise to embrace all the imperfection I see in the world in a loving way.

If you ever feel down or upset about being less than perfect, give me a call, because I need all the imperfections I can find to help me to learn and grow. I hope you forgive me if I have done anything less than perfectly. I will try to do what I can to make it less imperfect.

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

2022 Changes for the Better ?

Seniors are buzzing about the news that social security is giving seniors a raise. The problem is that other things are going up and the raise doesn’t come near to covering them all. Groceries, gasoline, home heating and drugs are just a few of the things we can expect to pay more for in 2022. Many people are looking at Medicare Advantage plans to save some money on health costs. Advantage plans are advertising plenty of extra perks like no premiums, transportation, dental and vision care to lure seniors away from traditional Medicare. That’s the carrot approach, offer a treat. Then there’s the stick approach. NYC retirees are getting the stick. Either accept the Advantage Plan or opt out and pay a steep penalty.

Here is an article from Robert Intelisano, CSA, CLU, LUTCF aka The Insurance Doctor, Certified Senior Advisor

NYC Workers, Supplemental vs Advantage!

The BIG WINNER here is New York City, who has found some type of loophole and passed on the plan subsidy to the Federal Government.  We estimate the city will be saving about $200 per person.  I would not be surprised if there was some type of “class action” lawsuit against the city over the next 6-18 months. 

For hundreds of thousands of retired NYC workers, a big choice is looming during open enrollment!  Whichever path you take will determine how you get your medical care and how much it costs out of your pocket. The choice is not as simple as it appears.  Most people would ask, which one is better?  Answer is, “It Depends!”

The first decision is; do you want to enroll in Federally run “original” Medicare, or select a “Medicare Advantage” Plan?  For foodies, think of it as ordering a “price fixe” meal (Medicare Advantage) where most decisions are already made for you or going to “the buffet” (original Medicare) where you need to decide for yourself what you want.

Both options will cover your “pre-existing conditions” and you will be able to obtain coverage for prescription drugs.  Differences begin with going to the doctor.  Original Medicare allows you to choose ANY doctor that accepts Medicare.  A Kaiser Family Foundation survey said that 93% of primary care physicians accept Medicare.  If you are looking for a new physician, research needs to be done to see which doctors are accepting “new” Medicare patients. 

Under “Medicare Advantage,” you will be joining a “private health insurance plan” probably similar to what you had when you were working.  Most of the common private insurance plans are HMO’s (In-network only Health Maintenance Organizations) or PPO (in and out of network Preferred Provider Organizations).  Keep in mind, with the private plans you will likely need to see your PCP (primary care physician) first then get a referral to a specialist, which is more time consuming.  This can also be an issue if you travel out of state and have a health issue as you will likely need to go out of network which will cost more out of your pocket.

See my 5 top tips below on how to address this new “predicament!”

  1. Do Research:  Familiarize yourself with what Medicare Part A (hospitalization), Part B (physician and outpatient services), Part C (A Medicare Advantage Plan),  Part D (prescription drugs) mean. 
  2. Speak to a Licensed Professional:  Insurance brokers must get “re-certified” every year, which consists of passing multiple tests of their knowledge.  A trained Professional can guide you much more easily than trying to do it yourself.
  3. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute: Waiting until the December 7th open-enrollment deadline increases the probability of making the incorrect decision.  Doing “nothing” is a decision as you will automatically be put into the Empire Blue Cross (or Emblem) plan.  Many people will see “FREE” and choose that option, which could lead to higher co-pays and more money paid “out of pocket!”
  4. Check With Your Preferred Doctors:  Make sure your doctor still accepts Medicare, which is frustrating for doctor’s offices to deal with the Government, delaying reimbursements and many other issues to deal with.  It is also important how much you utilize benefits and how many prescriptions you might be on.
  5. Determine Your Need for Dental, Vision and Other Services:  Under Medicare Advantage, you will get all of the services you are eligible for under original Medicare.  Some Medicare Advantage plans offer additional services such as vision, dental and some gym memberships.  The Government has been adding some services over the years like home improvements (wheelchair ramps), transportation to doctor offices and getting meals delivered.

Remember, with the Advantage plan the insurance company and your doctor make your health decisions whereas with the Supplemental plan it is YOU and your doctors making these decisions!

Whatever you do, take time to do the proper pre-planning as these choices can have a big effect on your next 12 months of care. 

You can see more about Robert Intelisano at https://insurancedoctor.us/

November 9, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Updates End of Summer 2021

Many things have changed since my last post and many things have stayed the same.

Covid-19 has moved a lot of things to ZOOM. Overburdened email boxes made sending blog posts seem very intrusive since people were working from home and emails may be going to personal addresses mixed in with family photos and health care information along with business mail.

I have been doing most of my speaking about improving your life in the face of limitations. I post a lot of this on Facebook since that is the accepted leader for baby boomer communication.

As the summer comes to an end, so is a 30 day video challenge in which I tried to demonstrate the day in the life of a Patient Advocate. Here is a sample of the live videos that appear at http://facebook.com/GetHealthHelp and other places.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?height=314&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgethealthhelp%2Fvideos%2F266125851749494%2F&show_text=true&width=560&t=0

August 23, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

JOIN US March 2, 2021 9 AM – 10 AM

Caryn Isaacs, Board Certified Patient Advocate has over 40 years of experience helping people with chronic and hard to manage health conditions to find improvements in their lives. Caryn realized just how important her knowledge of and connections with the health, legal and financial systems were when her husband recently became ill and passed away suddenly.  She will share how having all the important paperwork in place and knowing who to call during this stressful time saved her sanity and created a safe haven for her new role as a widow.

march-2-2021-001

February 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January 2021 Article Starting Over

I wish you all a very happy New Year. Here is the latest in a series of articles on people who started over after 50.

December 21, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Starting Over at 70

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. As we enter the ninth month of contact-less networking, no get together for the holidays and binge shopping, I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone.

Here are the first 3 articles I wrote for the North Shore Towers Courier after a conversation with Publisher Vicki Schneps of Schneps Media. I was thinking of doing this as a podcast, but Vicki suggested that I build an audience first to see if this resonated with the people I am speaking to.

Here’s what it looks like in the paper.

https://digital-editions.schnepsmedia.com/NST102020/page_11.html

Here are the November and December articles.

November 20, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Visit our new Website

I hope you enjoyed my introductory video. I have a new website that talks about me and what I am doing in the new now. Please visit my new website at https://gethealthhelp.com


“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” John Lennon

This is certainly true in the health care world. I haven’t been able to see many of my clients in person since April. In fact, since my last blog post when I said that we had big plans, everything changed.

I continue to see people in their homes but instead of going to doctors and out to fun activities, we work on projects like going through things to downsize and teaching the companions new recipes.

My clients who are living in assisted living are in quarantine. I can visit them by ZOOM and sometimes through the window. I bring care packages to show that there is still someone out there thinking of them. In some cases, I use my phone to connect to doctors and send it up to the resident’s room to have an online appointment, then follow up after with the doctor.

I’ve done a few webinars and SUN-Q is set up for our September annual kick off meeting on the 22nd to be on ZOOM at 9AM. Go to sunqueens.org to join or renew.

I would love to hear about what you are doing. Give me a call or send me an email. Visit me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

August 12, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2020 Where did the time go?

I can’t believe it’s been six months since I posted on the blog. Shame on me. So, what have I been doing that kept me so busy?  Is a blog really relevant today or are my LinkedIn and Facebook posts taking their place?

Well, I think the blog is relevant as it stands as a permanent record, as opposed to my social media posts which are here today and gone tomorrow. So here’s my “top did this” list for the second half of 2019.

  • July 2019 I signed up for the course PLAN FUTURE ME, from Carol Marak. There are 17 modules in this curriculum which walks you through the process of understanding who you are now and where you want to go as you age.   I’ve finished 14 of the 17 modules so far. You really have to be honest with yourself and go back a few times as you think about what may happen if you have a change in your health care, financial or legal status. Carol walked me through the modules on ZOOM. She also offers the course to groups.   https://www.carolmarak.com/PLAN-FUTURE-ME
    Carol Marak Instructor,  Founder Elder Orphan Facebook Group, and the creator of the Plan Future Me digital course for solo agers. Carol is the go-to authority on aging alone at home.
  • Two of my clients went into the hospital for July 4th Weekend. Luckily I was able to get them into the same hospital, so that visiting wasn’t too bad. The emergency room was fun, with me going back and forth between cubicles and the doctors getting confused. “Don’t I know you?”
  • In August, I joined the first networking group that is outside of the elder care industry, since I last served as an Ambassador for the NY Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s. Step Ahead https://stepaheadnetworking.com  holds small group meetings for business owners. I am really enjoying the spirited discussions from this seasoned group of entrepreneurs.  So far, I’ve worked with Glenn Pollack of http://PGSPRINTING.com to upgraded my business cards and badge. I also found a CPA to handle my client’s taxes, many of them haven’t filed for years and Steve made it a reasonable seamless process. https://www.stevenhsilbermancpa.com/   I also worked with Ronit Rogoszinski, Certified Financial Planner http://womenandwealthsolutions.com who helped me with a complicated plan for one of my clients.
  • In September, I moved two clients from Independent Living into Memory Care. One had been attended to by full time private aides since April, in an attempt to get her acclimated into the assisted living community from her home. When it became obvious that she was sleeping a lot and really not participating in activities, including not going to meals, we upgraded her care within the same residence. Now she is brought to eat meals on the same floor with people that she interacts with all day. She is doing much better, and the cost is one third of what she was paying for the private aides. The other client was taken to the hospital with dehydration and malnutrition. After four years at the same residence where she had been well known for being a walker and conversationalist, she was just not able to do those things anymore. For her 99th birthday, she asked me to let her die. I suggested that if she was planning on dying soon, she should prearrange her funeral. https://www.dignitymemorial.com/plan-funeral-cremation   The funeral directors came to visit her for her birthday with cannoli’s and set it all up. We laughed and cried and she was happy to have things settled. Later that day, she called me to say that she wasn’t feeling well. After a few weeks in the hospital and rehab, we decided to change her room to where she would have more attention, especially for incontinence care.  She recently told me that I did her a big favor. She especially likes the extra help with dressing and not having to go down in the elevator for meals.
  • Also in September, I started with a new client who just needed a little help at home. She hired me as security because she was going on a trip to Paris and wanted to make sure there was an emergency contact, just in case. As it turned out, she had a fall in Paris and then returned home to be admitted immediately into the hospital for pneumonia. So, my second meeting with her was bedside where they told me that the patient was cleared for discharge. They assured me that she had all the equipment she needed at home. I asked her if she was comfortable with using her own nebulizer and had the medication she needed. She said, “I think so, I haven’t seen it in a few years, but it must be somewhere in my apartment. ” Needless to say, I told the hospital that she could not go home alone. They said, too late, we already signed her out and arranged for transport. They were no help when I asked them to arrange for someone to help her at home. They said someone would contact her in a few days. Luckily, I knew of a licensed home care agency who arranged to meet us in two hours at her home. https://www.seniorhelpers.com/ny/new-york/meet-the-office  We’ve continued to use Senior Helpers several days a week, as it turns out that the client is more than a little forgetful and really likes the help of someone to shop, cook, clean and do laundry. The client also realizes that she should have someone to help her in the shower and to go with her on errands, especially since she has long term care insurance that will pay for it all.
  • October brought more patient hospital visits. One patient who suffers from Alzheimer’s had a bad fall and required a hip replacement. What is a big procedure for anyone, became that much more complicated. It was a constant battle to make sure that her updated health care proxy and living will followed her from emergency room, to bedside, to the operating room and recovery. I probably spent as much time in administration as by her side,  getting the computer to say that I was the emergency contact and agent instead of them calling who they last had down, when she went there twenty years ago. I realized that if I didn’t want to spend 24 hours a day there, watching that they didn’t try to give her anti psychotic medications or think that she required placement in a nursing home, that I needed to hire a home care agency to provide a companion in the hospital. The need for an intermediary continued into a long stay in a rehabilitation facility.  The bottom line was that there was no training of the hospital or rehab doctors or staff to understand the various stages of dementia. To them, people were either independent, have family to tend to all their needs or they should be in a nursing home with pureed food. The patient is home in her residence now receiving physical therapy four days a week and enjoying her familiar surroundings and friends. The memory care unit is able to care for her without the need for the cost of private care.
  • In between emergencies,  I  kept up with regular visits to my clients, including joint sessions with Helen Beegel, Clinical Social Worker who helps me to understand what my client’s are feeling about their situations. They all love Helen and value her advice.  https://npino.com/social-worker/1932311594-mrs.-helen–beegel/
  • At the end of October, one of my viral Facebook celebrity clients passed, on his birthday. I wish he had just stayed in his bed at the residence where he had private care, however the EMTs took him to the hospital even though the patient had a DNR and a MOLST form saying that he did not want any treatment. After admitting him, the hospital told me that since he had the MOLST on file there, he would be discharged. But, the residence he came from said they could not take him back because he required suction for his lungs, even though he was non-responsive and it was obvious that he was not going to recover. So, I was forced to write a check for $40,000 so that he could be sent to a private hospice instead of one for the indigent.  I was assured any balance would be refunded as he didn’t last three days.  I put a stop on the check and sent them a check for payment in full for the three days.  The funeral was on a beautiful day and I’m sure he was happy that his friend and rabbi held a very moving service. His family, (except the one cousin who was my contact) who never visited or contacted him in the years I worked with him showed up, but left quickly when they heard he had left all his money to charity.   https://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/patients/patient_rights/molst/   
  • November was a social month.  There were health fairs from FrostBiz at the Council Center in Brooklyn and then the big fair at the Sid Jacobson JCC featuring Teepa Snow, Dementia Expert.  Image may contain: 5 people, including Ilene Greinsky and Caryn Isaacs, people smiling   Ilene Greinsky who does all my Medicaid applications, https://www.eldercareresources.com joined me at our new tablecloth. These are always great events and lots of information is given and received.
  • December came up quickly with Thanksgiving being so late in the month. Holiday parties were a great time to catch up with old friends and make new contacts. In between the parties, Iris Bikel, Attorney https://irisbikelattorney.com  and I held two big events. Pamela Glasner, Filmmaker was a big hit and almost a hundred senior service professionals attended the event. The audience was truly moved by Pamela’s story and crushed to see Mickey Rooney begging advocates to call their legislators, the district of attorney, adult protective services and everyone they can to let them know about elder fraud by family and friends.     Image may contain: 3 people, including Iris Bikel and Caryn Isaacs, people smiling, people sittingImage may contain: 1 person, smiling, text
  • Then we held a workshop on December 12th with Susan Eisner, http://visionaryhealthsolutions.com  which had over 30 social workers attending Atria Kew Gardens https://www.atriaseniorliving.com/retirement-communities/atria-kew-gardens-kew-gardens-ny/   to practice Mindfulness, Meditation and Guided Imagery for ourselves and how to use it for our clients. The program offered the first Continuing Education Credits for Board Certified Patient Advocates in NYC. https://www.pacboard.org/
  • At these events, Iris and I talked about the fraud cases we have handled for our clients.  When patients are brought to the hospital alone, without anyone accompanying them and in crisis mode, the hospital is left to decide where to “place” them.  Often, they have no information regarding their agent under their health care proxy or power of attorney and many times the patient can’t communicate their wishes.  Hospital staff then hounds the individuals into giving names of relatives simply in the hopes of getting rid of their problem. These family members may have little to do with their relatives. The person becomes an easy target for their supposed loved ones. The family member then preys on the patient’s weaknesses, as soon as they find out that money is involved. We help our clients gather their very necessary legal documents so that true advocates can protect them against fraud.  We contact legal authorities and work together to retrieve lost property and assets, while also keeping the individual safe and secure for the future. We bring the discussion full circle to how well the clients are doing now.

That’s just the events off the top of my head for now. Here’s wishing everyone a very healthy and happy New Year. Please join me at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/carynisaacs and https://www.facebook.com/gethealthhelp  and LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/gethealthhelp/ for daily updates and meeting notices.

 

 

 

 

 

January 5, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Medicare for All, is it time?

I haven’t wanted to comment on the proposals from the politicians because it was clear to me that they were getting their marching orders from the policy wonks who only rehash the same mis-disinformation and lies told about the problems in the US Health System.

In the article below, the focus groups tell me that I was right. That only by changing the health delivery system, and not just the payment of premiums system, can we get the quality and access data we need to improve the system. Government’s role is to collect taxes and spend the money to reach certain goals. They do not create programs, they simply fund programs that are brought to the table.

Just because those over 65 get Medicare, if they contributed the required amount, doesn’t mean that Government has anything to do with designing the health delivery system.  They simply fund it. There are still out of pocket costs with Medicare, which encourages people to choose to forego straight Medicare and to have their Medicare premiums sent to an Advantage Plan run by an insurance company. What difference will it make in the system if all health care dollars are funneled through insurance companies?  We will still have the insurance company’s favorite managed care tool to contend with, cost shifting.

In 1989, Communications Workers of America went on-strike because NYNEX wanted the employees to pay for their health benefit premiums. The slogan was “Fight Against Cost Shifting.” Up to this point, the workers were given a Medicare for All type plan, where the employer paid into a fund to cover the cost of claims. The strike led to the creation of the health reform movement, that culminated in the proposed Clinton Health Plan. The idea was to take health care decisions out of the hands of employers, who at that time were funding most health insurance coverage, so that people would not lose their coverage if they changed jobs.  The plan described how premiums would be paid, either by employers of individuals into a Federal plan, similar to what we have under the ACA. When the Clinton Plan failed to pass, mostly because of the insurance industry’s mis-disinformation campaigns, the movement took up the slogan, Medicare for All to try to simplify the funding mechanism to the public. But, this was before Managed Care and Advantage Plans. This was also before Medicaid and Medicare funding were combined, so that funding was no longer based on who contributed.

This is why the hopes for an accountable plan design is not coming to fruition through the ACA. The system remains fragmented with out universal quality measures. When we talk about agreeing with Bernie or any of the possible candidates, we need to be sure of their understanding of the problem or we may vote them in only to find out they they use the same tired excuses as we found with the ACA.

 

Axios

June 3, 2019

Voters are tuning out the health care debates

By Drew Altman

There’s a big disconnect between the health care debates that dominate Washington, the campaigns and the politically active — where all of the talk is about sweeping changes like Medicare for All or health care block grants — and what the voters are actually thinking about.

The big picture:  In our focus groups with independent, Republican, and Democratic voters in several swing states and districts, the voters were only dimly aware of candidates’ and elected officials’ health proposals. They did not see them as relevant to their own struggles paying their medical bills or navigating the health system.

Details:  We conducted six focus groups in three states (Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania), facilitated by Liz Hamel, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Director of Polling and Survey Research. Each one had eight to 10 people who vote regularly and said health care will be important in their presidential vote in 2020.

The highlights:

*  These voters are not tuned into the details — or even the broad outlines — of the health policy debates going on in Washington and the campaign, even though they say health care will be at least somewhat important to their vote.

*  Many had never heard the term “Medicare for all,” and very few had heard about Medicare or Medicaid buy-in proposals, or Medicaid and Affordable Care Act state block grant plans like the one included in President Trump’s proposed budget.

*  When asked what they knew about Medicare for all, few offered any description beyond “everyone gets Medicare,” and almost no one associated the term with a single-payer system or national health plan.

*  When asked about ACA repeal, participants almost universally felt that Republicans did not have a plan to replace the law.

*  When voters in the groups were read even basic descriptions of some proposals to expand government coverage, many thought they sounded complicated and like a lot of red tape.

*  They also worried about how such plans might strain the current system and threaten their own ability to keep seeing providers they like and trust.

Between the lines:  Most voters in these groups don’t seem to see the current health reform proposals on either side of the aisle as solutions to their top problems: paying for care or navigating the health insurance system and red tape.

*  That, combined with a general distrust of politicians, can make these voters wary of any plan that sounds just a little too good to be true to them.

The bottom line:  For most voters, the debate will be more meaningful when they see stark differences on health between the Democratic nominee and President Trump in the general election. Then they may be able to focus more on what differences on health reform mean for the country and their daily lives.

https://www.axios.com/voters-are-tuning-out-the-health-care-debates-a3056cab-6ab2-4f5e-9ee4-113fa038ae72.html

 

 

June 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s never too late to live.

Kurt Klestadt Painting

Below is an article featuring one of my clients by Alan Magill, Director of Recreation at Ateret Avot senior home. Kurt contacted me when he was just about to be placed in a nursing home. He still had enough gumption to call out for help, knowing that active life was not over for him. It turned out that Kurt’s home care aide had been helping herself to his social security and pension payments for over a year.  For years, he remained isolated in a senior citizens apartment, without proper nutrition or personal care, being admitted often to the hospital.  Kurt’s only relative, a nephew tried to help. But Kurt was always very independent and as many seniors can get, he was paranoid about losing control.  Finally, the hospital discharged him to a nursing home for placement.

Initially, Kurt was evaluated as having severe memory loss by the nursing home.  Once it was determined that he was not Medicaid eligible, Kurt was accepted by Atria Kew Gardens Life Guidance program, together with 12/12 private aides, which we arranged through Senior Helpers. Kurt spent most of his time in his room, alone with the aides, looking through old books and talking to himself. He did not want to participate in any of the group activities, obsessing about news clippings and trying to dominate the conversation with some point he needed to make.      Although he was well cared for at Atria, it was obvious that he was very unhappy and talked often about feeling sick and dying.

With memories of having to flee from Germany in 1939, running with his family through Europe, Africa and eventually landing in South America, Kurt speaks several languages and has lots of stories. After a few months at Atria, where Kurt’s medical and financial  issues were addressed, Kurt told me about a rabbi, who he knew from South America and who was now in Queens, NY. The rabbi was more than happy to visit with Kurt and after many discussions, we were able to clarify Kurt’s situation.  What Kurt wanted was to be in an environment where people could appreciate his stories, even on the tenth telling.

Alan Magill has a way of featuring each residents strengths during the course of the many activities focusing on Jewish life and history. I have seen people who look like they were asleep in their wheelchairs, start to sing and recite poetry or respond with an eloquent soliloquy upon hearing Alan call out their name.

Here is the article:

GETTING BACK by Alan Magill   January 25, 2019

As appeared in the Jewish Connection Volume 12, Issue 9

There are things we do in our younger years that we enjoy, that are important to us, that we put aside for different reasons when we become adults. As the years go by, some may have a fleeting thought of that image of idyllic youth and yearn at some point to get back to it. Others may have it foremost in their mind and keep waiting for the opportunity for the free time to pursue it. For yet others, there can be nary a thought, but it could be in the subconscious, waiting to emerge.

One example of this is when teenagers of decades ago had the opportunity to learn Torah but then with increasing responsibilities of work and family, put it aside. But for those who still yearn for it, how sweet it is to get back to it.

I knew of a man, years ago, who lived in a Senior Home, who was a Holocaust survivor. He told the recreation director that he had a Yeshiva education but after the War, the desire to learn was taken out of him. Sixty years later something remarkable happened. Now blind, someone gave him a Torah tape to listen to. He took to it like a fish to water. His nishama was being touched in a meaningful way to an endeavor that had so, so long ago been important to him. More and more tapes were sent to him He could be seen on a daily basis sitting in the lobby with his earphone in the recorder with a big smile on his face.

You CAN go Home again. A cousin of mine, a lawyer, while in his 50s, had to clean out the house of an elderly family member who had passed away. He came across a Bible with the names of that man’s grandfather and his father’s name and other family names as well going back more than a century. My cousin, a very busy man with his career at the time, told himself while looking at that Bible, that one day when he had the time, he would dedicate himself to researching past generations to fill in and add depth to his family tree. This was not an endeavor he was going back to from his youth. But something that had tickled his fancy in middle age. And sure enough, he went back to that Bible when he retired and launched an international search for family members that went back to Poland in the late 18th century. And of course, moving forward. I was contacted, and was included in a publication he made along with hundreds and hundreds of cousins he found, a nice amount of which were at a family reunion he organized in Princeton, NJ. A true labor of love.

I was inspired by a woman I worked with in a senior home who in her late teens wanted to go to college, but it just did not fit into her family’s plans for her. No matter. When she was in her late 70s, she had no family planning for her, so she went back to a decades old dream and went to college and got her degree.

Pictured here is Kurt, a guest at Ateret Avot Senior Home, where I am director of recreation. You have to go back a number of decades when he went to the High School of Fine Arts in Montevideo, Uruguay, to see where he was immersed in artistic pursuits. Since then, over the years, he was an engineer and a teacher, and he has not done much painting over that time. And now, with Ateret bringing in an artist to lead a four part painting project of a mountain scene of nature, Kurt gets a chance to rekindle his interest as he is seen here starting the painting and showing his work after the first group.

Yes, there is a positive in developing new interests. But there’s a special kind of joy when you can rediscover a past interest. It’s like going back in time and shaking the hand of your youth.

Alan Magill can be reached at pr2hope@aol.com

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February 11, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment