We Provide Support for Multiple Generations

March 28, 2024

We Provide Support for Multiple Generations

As our ‘Boomer Generation’ understands very well, aging continuously brings new challenges, such as learning to cope with possible changes in abilities, cognition and more. Their adult children are also adjusting alongside them. Aviv Older Adult Services of Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) offers programs to help both the older adults and their children navigate this stage of life in a way that is informative, supportive, and dignified.

Susie’s Story

Susie has been familiar with JF&CS for years. When she was younger, she volunteered as a Big PAL in the PAL Program, Atlanta’s only Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister program. She is now the adult child/caregiver of her aging father, Herb.

“My dad has always been an outgoing guy. He loves to joke and banter, and is very social,” said Susie. “He and my mom had a lot of friends and were constantly on the go.”

But in the span of just a few years, their lives changed radically.

“Right before COVID, my mom was diagnosed with mild dementia, which was very difficult for both of them,” she continued. “During the pandemic, they moved from an active senior community to an independent living community. Then in August of 2022, my mom passed away. They’d been married 56 years and did everything together, so her loss was incredibly hard on my dad – and on me.”

“I’m the only child in Atlanta, and the responsibility of caring for my dad falls on me and my family,” she explained. “My husband is a tremendous help, but we can’t do it all alone. I’m in the true ‘sandwich generation.’ I’m working full-time, taking care of my kids, my family’s needs, and now my dad.”

“As much as you want to be able to do it all, to maintain your own health and sanity, you just can’t,” she said. “That’s why I’m so personally grateful for all the services that JF&CS offers.”

Today, her father is involved with One Good Deed, Geriatric Care Management, and Older Adult Counseling. Each facet of Herb's care meets a different need – and supports Susie too.

A Friendly Visitor from One Good Deed (OGD)

“A friend of mine became a One Good Deed volunteer, and it hit me that this would be great for my dad: someone outside of the family whom he could visit and be sociable with,” said Susie.

Our OGD program matches older adults with volunteers for companionship and friendship. The connections reduce loneliness and isolation and give both parties meaningful social connections. Herb has been matched with his volunteer, Brian.

“My dad adores Brian- for his birthday, he brought one of his kids over with cupcakes and a handmade birthday card,” said Susie. “It’s such a beautiful thing when people take the time to spend with seniors.”

Brian previously served as a Big PAL, which he found to be “extremely rewarding,” and now works in the Aging Technology industry. “I thought it was the perfect fit to get involved with One Good Deed,” he said. Brian enjoys Herb’s “wonderful sense of humor,” and the two go to lunch and play board games during their visits. Herb’s given back to Brian, too- “he’s gifted me a couple of his paintings, and I display them proudly above our fireplace.”

Personalized Support from Geriatric Care Management (GCM)

Susie also realized an urgent need for comprehensive care.

“We’d used a different company for Geriatric Care Management in the past but saw that we needed more personalized help in the way that JF&CS provides,” she said.

Our GCM services help older adults and their families/caretakers navigate the challenges of eldercare, from doctor’s appointments and housing to insurance and more.

Susie and Herb were matched with Jessica Wilson, MSW, CDP, Geriatric Care Manager, “... who is wonderful and so valuable to us,” she exclaimed. “She thinks of things we don’t even think about; she brought in an Occupational Therapist, for example, and even made sure dad had the right sort of bathmat! She is very thorough, cares about my dad, listens to me and helps find resolutions that will work for both my dad and I.”

“I know Jessica’s job is to advocate for my dad, but she’s really helping me, too,” continued Susie. “There are things coming from me, as his child, that are difficult for my dad to hear; it’s nice to have an intermediary in Jessica so it’s not always me telling my dad what to do,” she explained. “She’s taken him to doctor’s appointments when I couldn’t be there, and because he’s having memory issues it’s so helpful to have an extra set of eyes and ears.”

Additional Adult Counseling

From the difficulties of COVID and moving homes, to the illness and passing of his wife, to now struggling with memory issues, Herb has been through a lot. Recently, he began utilizing our Older Adult Counseling Services, and has started meeting regularly with our clinician, Heidi Roy, LCSW, to help him process and cope with these changes.

“Dad is still struggling with the loss of my mom, and it helps him to talk about her, to reminisce and also grieve,” said Susie. “He really enjoys having someone to talk to, who is proactively helping him without being emotionally attached like a family member.”

A Team Effort

“Jessica and Heidi help me by listening to me, and to what I’m going through,” said Herb. “I really enjoy spending time with Brian, too.”

“Having these services definitely makes me feel less alone,” said Susie. “(JF&CS) helps to take things off my plate so that I can tend to the rest of my life. If there is anybody going through things with an aging parent, it is impressive the amount of quality resources JF&CS offers. Jewish or non-Jewish – people need to utilize these services. I’m very grateful.”

To get connected with our programs within Aviv Older Adult Services, contact AgeWell Atlanta at 1.866.AGEWELL or visit agewellatl.org

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