Aging and life at times dictate that Jewish senior citizens move out of their home into a senior care facility. These facilities are communities where retirees receive assistance in the areas of their lives where they need a helping hand. At the same time, aged adults also have an opportunity to maintain their independence and live to the fullest, participating in fun and inspiring hobbies and activities.
An example of a senior care facility that elders can call home is an assisted living home. These are ideal for older adults who do not have complex medical needs and are still somewhat independent. Assisted living facilities accommodate couples as well as single older adults. They provide various services that can include assistance with day-to-day activities, room, board, meals, and fun activities so that elders can enjoy their golden years.
In the past, the options were not plentiful for the older Jewish adults who wanted to reside in assisted living residences. It is perhaps why many senior citizens still do not know all of their senior living options. However, over the years, the industry has improved tremendously to allow aging individuals to spend the second phase of their lives the way they want.
Today, golden agers have a broad array of options to an extent where one can identify a retirement community that offers a choice to maintain their spirituality and traditions. Jewish senior citizens, for instance, can settle in Jewish assisted living facilities where they can continue with their religious practices. Read on to uncover a detailed guide on these faith-based retirement communities that cater to the Jewish religion.
The specialized Jewish retirement communities exist to care for a subset of the population, i.e., older adults of Jewish heritage and faith. The homes provide a lovely environment that has surrounding, sounds, and sights of residing in traditional Jewish homes.
The residences are put in place to continue the religion’s culture so that residents can continue enjoying Jewish values and beliefs that may include compassion, having a meaningful life, helping others, dignity and choice. The goal here is to feed the souls of older adults while their bodies still get the care they deserve. Numerous factors set the facilities apart from the rest of the communities that do not exclusively cater to a Jewish population such as:
Jewish senior living communities make it possible for occupants to retain their cultural and religious traditions. It is one of the simple ways of reminding members of the older generations that even as they go through significant transitions in their lives, their creator and faith is still unchanging and enduring.
It is comforting for Jewish inhabitants to retire in an understanding environment where they can carry on with religious, traditional practices that they have been following for as long as they can remember. Jewish residents can feel connected to other elders, and they can also express their identity without inhibitions. Communal bonding through religion is not only sacred but extraordinary.
Some programs that Jewish retirement communities run come in handy in helping aged adults enjoy more fulfilling and better health. An example is where staff members fill a large grab-bag with a collection of various Jewish ceremonial objects and ornaments. They present this to residents so that they can observe, feel, and even smell the objects. This practice can help rekindle memories, which is something that can help retired Jewish adults who have dementia bask in a spiritual experience that helps maintain a secure connection to personal faith.
Golden agers residing in Jewish assisted living communities have a platform where they can take part in numerous celebrations and ceremonies. Purim is among the popular festivals that Jewish adults anticipate. During this special occasion, Jewish occupants eat, or even help to prepare traditional food like “hamantaschen”, a pastry that is associated with Purim.
Purim is a festive and carefree holiday, which has a special spiritual significance that Jews celebrate in many ways like:
Music cannot be ignored, as it is a huge part of the festivities and ceremonies. Some events at Jewish retirement communities usually call for live bands that entertain aging individuals with traditional Jewish music. Note that on holy days, Jews do not play live music. They, however, make the events lively by making joyful noises via Cappella singing, which can be as moving and powerful as the music that bands perform.
Depending on the location of the senior living community, some residences go the extra mile in addition to bringing religious music. It is where they partner with different Jewish schools so that older adults can interact with preschoolers all the way to high school as they hold conversations, dance, sing, and braid challah.
Staff members at Jewish assisted living communities endeavor to enrich residents and their guests’ lives in celebrating Jewish traditions and holidays. They avail materials that help retired older adults honor the holidays such as Passover. It is a Jewish holiday that memorializes exodus of Jews from Egypt. At this time, many occupants will refrain from eating bread and instead replace it with unleavened bread known as matzah.
Jewish senior living communities, also known as kosher retirement communities permit observant Jews to follow their dietary laws in their formative later years. Keeping kosher means that senior citizens follow kashrut, which is a set of food preparation and nutritional customs and religious laws that date back to the era of Moses.
Experts agree that kosher dining assists elderly Jewish adults to connect to their faith, as it is part of what makes the Jewish environment complete. Jewish senior living residences observe the proper rituals in regards to preparation of animals and also cook food using ingredients they source from kosher animals. Retirement communities try to provide the freshest and finest kosher ingredients for all meals, serving a variety of alternatives on a daily basis.
Different retirement residences have varying levels of kosher adherence depending on what the residents prefer. The ones that are strict with kosher will have a dedicated Mashgiach who oversees and maintains kosher observance in the assisted living center. Other facilities may have a separate dairy and meat kitchen without any supervision from a Rabbi. The three levels of kosher adherence are:
For occupants who like to spend some time away from their retirement communities, the facilities often organize transportation to local synagogues. For those who are not mobile enough or simply do not want to go out of the community, a Rabbi comes in to worship with seniors who cannot make it to the synagogue. There are also different organizations that help to unite Jewish people who organize various celebrations and traditions with people who cannot leave the facility, to make sure that they do not miss activities because of immobility.
Because Judaism is a way of life for the majority of Jewish senior citizens, staff members also coordinate multiple religious studies all through the week so that inhabitants can practice their faith regularly and not just on specific days of the week or special occasions.
Religious groups and churches owned and operated a majority of the early Jewish senior living facilities. In addition to Jewish communities, today there are also secular companies that accommodate Jewish residents or serve vast populations of Jews, especially in places where there is a high Jewish population.
Just like with many faith-based senior living facilities, a board of directors and non-profit organizations sometimes run the facilities. It means that that their primary purpose is care of occupants and not monetary gain. At some communities, Rabbis will be members of the board of directors who ensure that all residents receive proper care at all times.
Because many assisted living facilities cater to Jewish beliefs and provide tasty traditional kosher meals, one has to take time to find an ideal community, whether they are searching for a retirement home for themselves or a loved one.
If you are asking yourself "How do I find Jewish assisted living facilities near me?" it is wise to get recommendations from your Rabbi or other leaders in your community to have a list of senior living communities to go through. Before you commit to a single facility that claims to abide by Judaic teachings, here are some questions to consider:
How Do Non-Jewish Staff Members Learn About the Religion?
More than often, not all the personnel working in a facility practice Judaism. It is, however, vital to ensure that everyone who interacts with Jewish residents has an idea of their faith and treats them in the right way. A top-notch facility will invest in training the staff so that they understand the beliefs and expectations while working.
You will need to make sure that staff members, especially the ones who will be working with the aged adults directly, are a proper fit. Do visit a facility you are interested in a couple of times to make sure of that.
How Does the Facility Observe Sabbath And Other Holy Days?
You can ask the assisted living facility you are considering to see a calendar as well as an explanation of how they observe Jewish holy days and celebrations within the residence. It may include how the community handles certain observances like sitting Shiva or gender separation.
You may also want to know the primary language the senior living residence uses for its services and whether translators are readily available when an occupant is in need. Follow up with inquiries of the synagogue the community uses or Rabbi that is affiliated with the community. Residents may also want to know if it is possible to stay connected with their own synagogue and community back home.
Are All Meals and Beverages Kosher?
Kosher meals are vital to everyone who subscribes to the Jewish faith. Ensure that your loved one will only eat kosher meals by asking for sample menus and any documentation that supports certification of kosher. Each assisted living community has different practices in regards to food preparation; thus, you can also ask whether they make the food on site or they have it brought in.
Other Services Jewish Assisted Living Communities Offer
In as much as you will be looking for a community that follows Judaism, it is essential to make sure that other needs of seniors are also well taken care of. Ask about accommodation options and the services that residents enjoy. These include housekeeping, assistance with daily activities, entertainment, exercise and fitness activities. You want to pick a senior living community that can meet all needs of Jewish older adults. Do not forget to ask about what happens when the needs of an occupant change to prepare for such eventualities in the best possible way.
Studies show that religion does not have a significant impact on the value of senior care. Type of accommodation that residents choose and the level of care they get are typically the deciding factors.
For instance, an aging individual staying in a private two-bedroom apartment will pay more than the one who chooses to reside in a studio or single room. Specialized care such as Alzheimer’s care can also factor into the costs, as it is usually more costly. In a majority of cases, assisted living facilities do not accept Medicare, which means that many seniors have to meet out of pocket expenses. Also, some senior housing units are subsidized, enabling retirees to save some money.
The beliefs of those of the Jewish faith span beyond religion, as they are more of a way of life. It is therefore essential for seniors who subscribe to the Jewish faith to identify an excellent Jewish senior care facility when the time comes, where they will thrive and connect.
Here, they can be sure that they will practice their faith in an open environment and participate in the rituals that they are familiar with. It includes observing an array of religious traditions with Shabbat services, celebrating holidays, kosher meals and a lot more.