I first heard about the program from Varda Kahana, director of the Ezer Mizion branch here in Rechovot, and from Anat Yules, the director of the Municipality’s Div
ision for the Benefit of Senior Citizens. I shared the Aleh organization’s interest in expanding and developing additional services for target populations of seniors with impaired function in order to continue actualizing the organization’s goals and contribute to enhancement of the quality of life for the elderly population in the city. They shared with me the details of the innovative program for the benefit of seniors with cognitive decline that had been in existence for several years.
In our discussions, the idea came up to form a collaboration between Ezer Mizion, the Rechovot Municipality and Aleh which will operate “Bonding and Building”. This program was conceived by EMDA an organization founded by relatives of people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other similar conditions.
The “Bonding and Building” program is based on many years’ experience working with seniors suffering from cognitive decline. It is founded on the principle that skills that are still present can be salvaged, and latent skills uncovered, in the goal of preserving cognitive, sensory, motor, and social capabilities and slowing the rate of the senior’s deterioration. According to Sigalit Gaz, director of the program at EMDA, experience has shown that the elderly who join the program very quickly agree to go out for a walk after a long period of seclusion in the house and resume interests in music or crafts. This change contributes significantly to their quality of life and vitality and strengthens social and interpersonal ties.
The Program is Operated by Volunteers
The volunteers are hand-selected and undergo a challenging training course, benefiting from guidance and professional mentoring for the duration of their work. They service 2-3 families offering 12 sessions each. The volunteers are equipped with a kit which contains seven collections, each representing activities in different spheres. Their rigorous training equips them to utilize the kits professionally, achieving amazing results. The role of the volunteers is to visit the family home, motivate and encourage the senior to engage in activity, and simultaneously demonstrate to the family members how to work with their elderly relative.
The volunteers also profit from the program, adds Sigalit Gaz, as is evident from their enthusiastic feedback: “We help people age with dignity,”
“It gives me a reason to wake up in the morning,”
“I feel I am doing something meaningful with my life,”
“The course gave us so much knowledge and tools, that serve us as well in our own lives,”
“The course enabled us to acquire new friends and we improved our own interpersonal relationships.”
In addition to the feeling of fulfillment and meaning that is generated by the work, the volunteers also receive a great deal of love and appreciation from the recipients of their help.
In order for the program in Rechovot to begin operation, serious, motivated volunteers are needed. Interviews and selection of the appropriate people will begin in the next few days. The training course is scheduled to start at the beginning of March 2014, with a preliminary session in February.
Anyone who believes herself to be suitable to join the program is invited to call:
Batya Wegh, Coordinator of Aleh’s Geriatric Services Administration: 054-9986678
or Varda Kahana, director of Ezer Mizion’s Rechovot branch: 052-4391594.