Isolation is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Lonely people are 50 percent more likely to die earlier than those with healthy social relationships. Data from the Health Resources & Services Administration shows more than 3.4 million people struggle with social isolation, loneliness, and living alone—and that was before the onset of COVID-19. More recent numbers show loneliness and social isolation have increased 20 to 30 percent, and emotional distress has tripled during COVID.
No part of our body talks to us in quite the same way as our heart does. While we may not always be listening, our hearts communicate with us regularly, methodically, and (one should dearly hope) constantly. It only makes sense, therefore, that we’d want to keep the conversation going.
February is American Heart Month and perennially that time of year when we are urged to be more disciplined, change our habits, and start treating our hearts with respect.
“Holocaust survivors are our teachers and our heroes,” said Mark Wilf, the chair of The Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) board of trustees. “With inspiring strength and conviction, they teach us about the past. Now, they are teaching us how to better serve all older adults who have survived trauma.”
JFNA’s Center on Aging and Trauma, a project of the Holocaust Survivor Initiative, has just awarded Jewish Family Service a one-year, $66,666 grant.
“If you don’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of anyone else,” explained Leslie Brody, LISW-S, LICDC-CS, the Director of Care Management, Counseling & Crisis Intervention at Jewish Family Service. “A lot of people who are good at being helpers are not always comfortable being helped.” That’s why AgeWell Cincinnati is teaming up with Jewish Family Service to create two new virtual support programs: one for caregivers and another for people who are struggling with grief.
“It was one of my worst times,” says Gloria (identities changed for privacy). The interview takes place in the dining room of her small, freestanding home. There are signs of love all around—lots of green plants in the windows—but dust piles on the flat surfaces, and the curtains are faded. We are talking about when she finally fought free from addiction to pain medicine. (This interview occurred pre-COVID-19; at the end we share how Gloria is faring during the pandemic.)
COVID-19 has changed nearly every aspect of our lives, and for some of the people in our community, those changes could be deadly. That’s why Jewish Family Service (JFS) quickly transitioned most programming online to continue its mission.
JFS is committed to strengthening people’s lives in times of need, as well as supporting senior community members.
“In terms of who may be in need of our help, we have seen COVID-19 affecting people across our community,” said Jewish Family Service CEO Liz Vogel. “There are so many people who have been impacted who do not know where to go for help.” According to the 2019 Cincinnati Jewish Community Study, 28 percent of Jewish households have insufficient savings for three months to cover unexpected or emergency expenses. “At Jewish Family Service, we want to make sure those who don’t have that...
In 1985, Miriam Yenkin was nominated president of the Jewish Federation of Columbus (now JewishColumbus) and, upon her acceptance, became the first woman to serve in that role. Before, during, and after her time as president—for 60 years, in fact—Yenkin has been passionate about her community, and over the decades has developed strong and enduring connections with it. So it was an unusual and discomforting feeling for her when, earlier this year, she didn’t know where to turn for help.
Sherry was naturally devasted when her father died. But almost immediately, she was comforted knowing that her mother was surrounded by supportive and loving friends—friends who had known and appreciated her dad because he and Sherry’s mom had moved into a continuous care retirement community two years earlier.
Elizabeth Mefford, Director of Marketing and Admissions at Cedar Village, says she hears stories like Sherry’s (a pseudonym) all the time.
What can older adults and those who love them do, when isolation from COVID-19 and the need for socialization come into conflict? Though we know that socialization plays a role in everyone’s health, no matter the age, it is particularly essential for older adults, whose wellbeing is so dependent on the stimulus they receive through social interactions.