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We helped 60 families to successfully apply for SNAP, amounting to approximately $250,000 in benefits, or an estimated average of $4,200 per family per year.
July 27, 2021

We helped 60 families to successfully apply for SNAP, amounting to approximately $250,000 in benefits, or an estimated average of $4,200 per family per year.Debby* was working full-time at a homeless shelter in January 2021 when she gave birth to her first child, a baby boy. Her baby was born prematurely and needed to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit. Suddenly, Debby needed to leave her job much earlier than expected and manage the stress of being a first-time, single mom to a fragile baby, all without any income.

Debby was resourceful and immediately began to look for ways to keep herself afloat. She applied for Massachusetts’ new paid family leave benefits as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), and a cash benefit from the state called Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC). The paid family leave was slow to come through, and both her SNAP and cash aid applications were denied due to missing documentation.

In early February, Debby learned about Fragile Beginnings, a JF&CS program that assists parents of babies who have had a stay in the NICU. When that team learned that Debby had no income, they immediately referred her to the JF&CS Bet Tzedek Legal Services team, which helps low-income clients navigate complex, burdensome systems to access government benefits they are entitled to and is part of CJP’s Anti-Poverty Initiative.

The team got in touch with Debby right away. She told us that she had enough food for the baby, but that she was going to run out of food the next day for herself. We reached out to Family Table, JF&CS’s kosher food pantry, to arrange for an emergency food delivery. A volunteer delivered food the very next day.

Once the immediate concern of food was addressed, we began to analyze why Debby was denied her benefits. We found mistakes in how the state handled Debby’s applications. We informed the state of the errors and helped Debby file a new application. Debby’s SNAP and TAFDC applications were approved for the maximum benefits, and she was issued retroactive benefits back to her initial date of application. When we first met Debby, her monthly income was $0, and she was not receiving any public benefits. Thanks to our advocacy, her benefits went up to $1,010 per month.

In the spring, Debby’s application for paid family leave was approved, enabling her to go off all public benefits. We are so thrilled that we were able to help bring Debby to a place of stability at such a challenging – and special – time as she became a mom.

In just this one area of JF&CS Bet Tzedek Legal Service’s work, this year we helped 60 families to successfully apply for SNAP, amounting to approximately $250,000 in benefits, or an estimated average of $4,200 per family each year. We also help people maintain their benefits and ensure they receive the maximum benefits they are eligible for. And once people receive SNAP, they are automatically eligible for a host of other benefits, from low-cost internet to free school lunches, low-cost heating, and admission to cultural institutions.

*Debby’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.


Bernice Behar with grocery bags
July 27, 2021

Q: Let’s start with the core work of Family Table– what it is?
A: For some people, the idea of a food pantry conjures up an image of a place where people wait in line to get whatever food is available. Where their bodies may be nourished, but not their spirits. Family Table is much more. We offer healthy foods: lots of fruits and vegetables, eggs, and Kosher chicken, paired with wonderful recipes from a registered dietician. Our Kosher food reminds people that the Jewish community is here to support one another. We nurture our clients’ spirits by empowering them to choose foods that fit their needs. We serve more than 500 families each month and deliver food to over 350 families who don’t have transportation. These deliveries are a sign of deep respect for the many people with disabilities and older adults who need our help, and an opportunity for volunteers and clients to connect human-to-human – a nurturing experience for all.

Q: Why an expansion and why now?
A: Unfortunately, the need has really grown. Food insecurity was a big problem before the pandemic, and now it’s become much, much worse. And it’s reflected in the Jewish community just as in the broader community. Through extensive outreach, we’ve also become much better known in the Jewish community, particularly with seniors, many of whom hear about Family Table from friends and neighbors, often in senior housing. We cover a wide geography of more than 100 towns. Our Waltham office serves as the distribution hub for all locations, connecting to our outposts at Temple Sinai in Marblehead and B’nai Tikvah in Canton. Family Table has grown so much over the last decade that we just ran out of space.

Q: What will the expansion mean for Family Table clients?
A: This expansion will almost triple our freezer and refrigerator space at our existing Waltham location to serve more people and store more food. We hope to double the number of frozen vegetables - peas, spinach, broccoli, beans, mixed veggies, corn – that we’re distributing. We have more space to add Kosher chicken, and to freeze our challah so that it’s still fresh when we deliver. If you visit our cold storage today, you will see that it’s just stacked to the brim, with aisleways full and no room to maneuver. An expansion of our space ultimately means that we can take on more clients and help nourish the body and spirit of so many more in our community who need help right now.

Q: What does the expansion mean to you?
A: As Director of Family Table, I manage the staff, the budget, all the organizational ins and outs. But the times that have felt so meaningful have been when I’ve personally handed someone a bag of groceries and felt that connection with people who really need us. Our clients are not anonymous to us. We walk with them through their lives. This expansion means we will walk alongside more clients in need. And in this challenging year, I watched the unbelievable hard work, dedication, and ingenuity of our small, but mighty Family Table team. To a person, they have worked so hard and knocked themselves out to make sure that just the right things have gotten into everyone’s hands. This expansion is an opportunity to increase our impact every day.


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June 29, 2021

Mike Lee and Tom Acevedo were on the way to New York for the weekend… a perfect time to continue the conversation about adopting a child. “As Mike drove, I did research” explained Tom. The couple quickly realized, however, that this deeply personal process can often feel very cold and transactional. “It was adoption via 100 questions, with no human interaction,” said Mike.

Then they found JF&CS Adoption Resources. “Their operating model felt 180 degrees different from any other agency we had researched. We were able to connect with an actual human from the very beginning…and many of the Adoption Resources staff have their own personal connections to adoption, which was quite helpful to us.” 

The JF&CS Adoption Resources model is deliberately designed to be extremely supportive. The team blends deep expertise in the complex world of adoptions with a strong commitment to the families they serve. They believe in building relationships, with the adoptive family at the core of a caring network of support. 

Interested families are encouraged to start the process at a monthly orientation program (typically on the first Tuesday of the month). This meeting introduces pre-adoptive families to the range of available services and addresses the many questions families have about the adoption process and their options. The JF&CS team is also available for individual consultations, free of charge. 

“The adoption process can be exciting and overwhelming,” commented Director Betsy Hochberg, MSW, LICSW. “In addition to our home study work with families, we also provide a number of educational workshops to prepare families for the arrival of their child. Adoption has changed over the years and many of our families travel to other states to adopt newborns. We help families network beyond MA to find the best resources. We also offer new parent groups to help families share their experiences—building relationships while sharing the stresses and the joys. Adoption is a lifelong event, and we remain connected with many of our families for years!” 

“It can be a real rollercoaster of an experience,” commented Tom. “But JF&CS was by our side the entire time, providing information, support, and encouragement. There is a real nobility in their deep commitment to families.” 

Like many clients, Tom and Mike were pleasantly surprised to learn more about how JF&CS supports families throughout the community. “We came in through the adoption door, but after a while, we were exposed to the full breadth of what JF&CS does for families…especially during COVID. The team has a real generosity of spirit, a clear passion for their work, and an ever-expanding impact.” 

Mike and Tom’s daughter Audrey is now three and a half. “A good friend of ours has been involved with JF&CS as a volunteer…she reminds us that universe gives you the child you were meant to have,” commented Mike. “As Audrey continues to grow and learn, we believe even more deeply in that statement. And we continue to feel so grateful to JF&CS for the comprehensive and caring support they provided as we completed our family.”

About JF&CS Adoption Resources: 

Licensed Massachusetts to provide domestic adoption services, JF&CS Adoption Resources offers a variety of programs to assist individuals and couples pursuing adoption. Our comprehensive services provide support and counseling before, during, and after placement. We work with a wide range of single parents, same sex couples, and heterosexual couples— helping families choose the level of openness in their individual adoption.


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June 17, 2021

JF&CS is fortunate to work with a number of corporate partners who advance and extend our work throughout the community. One of those partners, Assisting Hands Home Care, is a deeply engaged sponsor of JF&CS Memory Café. We spoke with Dave Tasto (President, Assisting Hands - Boston Northwest) and Beth Soltzberg (Director, Alzheimer’s/Related Disorders Family Support Program for JF&CS) about the partnership and its impact on the community. 

Let’s start with some background info. Dave, can you tell us a little about Assisting Hands Home Care? 
DT: We help keep individuals healthy and happy at home. Some of our clients want companionship and some transportation help, and others have more extensive needs requiring around-the-clock care at home.  

Beth, please describe JF&CS Memory Café.
BS: Memory cafés are welcoming social gatherings for people living with dementia, along with their family members, friends, and professional care providers. The first café was held in Holland in 1997, and they have spread throughout the world as part of the dementia friendly community movement. JF&CS Memory Café was created in 2014; we launched the Memory Café Percolator that same year to help other organizations start and sustain their own cafés.

What issues are your clients/participants struggling with these days? 
DT:
It’s clear that the isolation and loneliness associated with the pandemic have taken a toll—families have seen real declines in overall health of their loved ones. In addition, family members have taken on additional care duties. It all adds up to a great deal of stress for families and other caregivers.  

BS: It’s challenging at any time for a family to address dementia – the financial, emotional, and physical impact can be significant. During the pandemic, families often faced an impossible situation as the symptoms of their loved ones worsened and the available supports decreased. 

What has that meant for your teams?
BS:
Providers like JF&CS Memory Café have had to learn how to deliver services in totally different ways. We had to figure out how to best use technology to keep our programs going…then help our clients figure out how to log on! 

DT: If our homes were our castles before COVID, they became castles with moats during it. We doubled down on our infectious disease protocols, reduced the number of clients our caregivers would see. We also embraced technology, but in our case, it was to bridge communications gaps. Our caregivers take notes on their smartphones and have them immediately available to family members who may be miles away or down the street.  

Please describe the nature of the partnership between JF&CS Memory Café and Assisting Hands. 
BS:
We were connected through a colleague almost three years ago. Dave started attending the Memory Café and quickly became a valued thought partner and financial supporter.

DT: The more I got to know Beth and JF&CS, the more impressed I was with the team’s professional, caring approach. I really admire their commitment to bringing joy to those they serve. We share an important goal: to help even more individuals and families become aware of the supports available to them through organizations like ours. And our values are aligned…we both care deeply about giving back to the community. 

BS: It’s an ongoing struggle to raise awareness about programs like JF&CS Memory Café. It’s tough to get people to talk about your program when they don’t want to discuss dementia.  Dave has helped us think about creative new ways to spread the word. We have been fortunate to have him as a partner—not everyone takes that added step of saying “I’d like to help advance this work through a financial sponsorship.”

What opportunities do you see for partnership in the future? 
BS:
Service providers are at an interesting point where things are reopening, but there are no guarantees about what’s ahead. We do know that we’re not going back to the way things were, that we will continue to weave in new ways of supporting these individuals and families. As we plan, it’s really helpful to have the strategic and financial support of partners like Assisting Hands. 

DT: When I look to the future, about two key things: awareness and access. We need to let more people know that programs like JF&CS Memory Café and Assisting Hands are here to support them. And we need to continue to find ways to make our services more accessible throughout the community. 

Any last thoughts?
BS:
For families supporting a loved one with dementia, it’s both a precious and challenging time.  It can be the hardest thing they have ever done, but it can also be incredibly fulfilling. To make it the best possible experience, families need to expand their network… to augment their already wonderful care and attention. That’s the way I feel about our partnership with Assisting Hands. Through his collaboration and financial support, Dave helps us do even more to support people living with dementia and the people who care about them. 
 
For more information about JF&CS Memory Café: https://www.jfcsboston.org/Our-Services/Older-Adults/Alzheimers-Related-Disorders-Family-Support

To learn more about senior home care from Assisting Hands Home Care
 


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May 26, 2021

Q: Tell me a bit about your career journey thus far. What did you do before JF&CS and how did you find your way here? 
A: Just after I finished my master’s degree, I did clinical work in child-parent psychotherapy — one of the first evidence-based treatment programs for children under the age of 5 affected by trauma. I was part of the second cohort to be trained through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to provide dyadic therapy to parents and children. When I moved to Massachusetts, I joined JF&CS, providing child-parent psychotherapy to parents living in residential treatment centers for those impacted by substance use disorder.

Q: What’s dyadic therapy?
A: When working with families, we consider the needs and strengths of the parent, and of the child. Then there are the needs and strengths of their relationship—dyadic therapy focuses on strengthening that relationship. It’s an incredibly rich and rewarding way to work, for all involved. We are not “teaching” parents what to do, and we are relating to babies in a very intentional way. It can also be challenging. I sometimes say that it’s like couples therapy…but with individuals who have totally different developmental needs (which could actually be at odds with each other!). Babies can’t wait. We need to be in tune with and respond quickly to their rapidly changing needs.

Q: What’s exciting about the work JF&CS is doing today?
A: JF&CS recognized early on that the opioid crisis would have deep and lasting impact on young families. Leveraging our deep collective expertise in understanding and meeting the needs of vulnerable families, we created Project NESST® (Newborns Exposed to Substances: Support and Therapy). This program works with parents, caregivers, and infants to address the impact of substance use and trauma on parents’ mental health, the early parent-child relationship, and infant development. 

Q: What emerging issues in maternal mental health are you and the team thinking about now?
A: There has been a huge explosion in the science and public awareness of the role of infant maternal health. Recently, the Massachusetts Association of Infant Mental Health (IMH), in partnership with national IMH bodies, began offering infant mental health endorsements to professionals in the field. JF&CS is at the forefront of that work, supporting other practitioners getting their endorsement. That level of interagency engagement has been a hallmark of our work for years… we do a ton of teaching and training to help other service providers realize that there are opportunities to do things differently and better. You can look throughout Greater Boston and see the direct impact of our work in how care and service providers support parents and babies.

Q: What do you love most about your job? 
A: I love the “aha moments” — when we help people change the way they relate to others in their lives. And I think every day…. did I impact a client, a colleague, a system? It’s incredibly gratifying to be able to say “yes,” and to know that so many of my interactions have an incredible ripple effect on families and communities.


two teenage girls with backpacks
April 22, 2021

By Talia Wilk and Leah Farb

We both have our Bat Mitzvahs on May 8th—we thought we could have a bigger impact in the community if we combined our efforts on a mitzvah project. It’s been hard to find meaningful volunteer work for our mitzvah project during the pandemic because we have had to social distance and the options have been limited.

We started our work by talking with Ava Harder, JF&CS Manager of Volunteer Services. She explained the volunteer opportunities and process to us, suggesting several meaningful options including supplying Family Table grocery items, creating baskets for CHAI Services houses and collecting general personal care items for clients. But what really resonated with us was when she spoke to us about Healthy Families and the opportunity to help teenage mothers and their children by providing backpacks with school readiness items for Healthy Families clients.

Ava helped us understand that while being a mom is never easy, being a teenager and providing for your kid(s) during COVID-19 is even more stressful for these clients. She explained that we could purchase backpacks and fill them with all kinds of fun stuff for the three-year-olds who would be graduating from the program.

Then we got to work! We talked with our families about how to move the project forward. We decided that we would create 10 backpacks for Healthy family graduates and fill them with all the items they would need for school—crayons, coloring and picture books, stickers, etc. We also wanted to give a gift to the young mothers who have worked really hard to be able to graduate from Healthy Families—we decided to provide them with gift cards to celebrate their big achievement.

Although this project was meant to be work, it was so satisfying for the both of us to know that we were helping other people, other families. We are so glad that we had the opportunity to work on this project, for JF&CS and Healthy Families and we got to make an impact on these families and their kids. We have enjoyed this volunteer opportunity so much that we are actually planning on volunteering again for JF&CS at the end of April for CHAI Services Shabbat dinner!


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April 21, 2021

Q: How did you find your way to this role?
A: Before having children, I worked (and stressed!) in the for-profit world. After the birth of my first child, I participated in a JF&CS New Parents Group. It was such an important part of my baby’s first year and my first year as a mom—we still have close friends from that group! I always wanted to find my way to what I considered more meaningful work, and when a friend at JF&CS told me about a position at the agency, I knew I had to “go for it!” That was five and a half years ago, and I have loved being a part of an organization whose work touches the lives of so many people in such powerful ways.

Q: What is it about volunteering with JF&CS that makes it so appealing?
A: JF&CS offers a uniquely broad array of opportunities to touch the hearts and lives of our neighbors. Whether you are delivering groceries with Family Table, celebrating Shabbat with CHAI Residential, dancing or singing with Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support, caring for a new family with our Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms program, touching the heart of a Holocaust Survivor as a Friendly Visitor or a caring card- or scarf-maker, helping a domestic abuse survivor get back on her/his feet, sharing art with participants in JF&CS Memory Café, Café Hakalah and so much more… you are 100% changing lives across the community.

Q: How would you describe JF&CS volunteers?
A: Caring, compassionate, creative, fun, dedicated, positive, eager, enthusiastic, wonderful!!!

Q: What have you missed over the past year?
A: Professionally, I have missed seeing my colleagues in the office. I miss hearing the buzz of co-workers surrounding me. I miss the off-handed brainstorming that comes from working near one another. I also miss coordinating on-site group volunteering with day schools and corporations and universities. And most of all I miss seeing our wonderful volunteers live and in person.

On a personal level, I miss hugs. I miss going to services at my synagogue and seeing and hugging my friends. And going out for dinner. And coffee shops… I miss grabbing a latte at a coffee shop. And my parents in Arizona. I cannot wait until I can hop on a plane to see them again. So many things to look forward to!


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March 19, 2021

Elysse NavaElysse Nava is the caring expert on the other end of the line (or email) for Mental Health Connect and Path to Well-being. Elysse plays a vital role in the community, holding people’s hands as they navigate a wide range of mental health challenges, and helping them take their first step towards the support they need. In this brief Q&A, Elysse explains these new programs, and talks a little about the significant need they address.

Q: First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?

A: Sure! After receiving my BSW and MSW I worked at a Jewish agency in New York. I found a lot of meaning in Jewish values, and in the human service mission. When I decided that I wanted to come home to Boston, I was delighted to find JF&CS. As Director of Community Resources and Mental Health Supports, I can put my experience to work in a way that directly affects so many people across our community. 

Q: How would you characterize what you’re seeing in terms of community needs around mental health? 

A: Overall, the need for support and services continues to increase, as does the complexity of individual situations. In many cases, people have been missing out on activities which previously brought meaning to their lives. We are also hearing from many people having a hard time meeting their basic needs, which further complicate mental health issues. It’s always been challenging to know where to turn for mental health support, and to understand what programs and services will be most appropriate—COVID has significantly increased that challenge. 

Q: How does Mental Health Connect work?

A: Many of the people who call or email don’t know what help will be most effective for them. I start by assessing their specific needs; then connect them to the appropriate program within JF&CS or across the Greater Boston community. Over the past few weeks, I have spoken with 20 – 25 people per week, connecting them to resources such as our clinical case management program, Friendly Visitors program, bereavement support groups, and to another exciting new program, Path to Well-Being.

Q: Tell us a little about Path to Well-being. 

A: Path to Well-being is a no-cost, six-to-eight-week Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) program accessible via laptop or app (on a tablet or smartphone). Guided by a CBT coach from world-renowned McLean Hospital, participants learn and practice proven techniques to manage stress and anxiety online. JF&CS recently launched this program in partnership with McLean Hospital and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and we are seeing a great deal of interest in it. 

Q: What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

A: CBT is a treatment approach that addresses unhelpful thoughts that drive negative attitudes and behaviors. This virtual, self-paced approach provides the skills and strategies to redirect those thoughts…to “switch the train track”, so to speak. It’s truly individualized, and the skills are ones you can return to in the face of transitions and challenges that may come your way in the future. 

Q: What has been most rewarding about this work?

A: I have been doing this work for a long time and I continue to be inspired by the clients I collaborate with. They really are the experts in their own situations and it’s incredibly rewarding to partner with them to bring about the change they desire in their lives.  

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: I know it can be difficult to reach out for help. Calling us is an important first step towards finding the services and support that can help make your day, and your life, just a little easier and more meaningful.

Mental Health Connect and Path to Well-being can be reached at 781-693-5562 or mentalhealth@jfcsboston.org.


Sleeping newborn baby
February 23, 2021

Posted by Debbie Whitehill, LICSW
Director, Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® 

For many parents of newborns, this year has not been what they expected. Plans changed; health concerns increased; outside support became risky, inconsistent, and/or hard to find. Our Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms program has been working virtually to offer parents a listening ear—sharing their journeys as their babies grow and change in the first year of life. Read on to find out how Visiting Moms can provide the extra support parents may need to contend with issues around decision-making, family expectations, and so much more!

Decision-making is often intense in new parenthood: How long to let a baby cry; what types of bottles to use; how frequently to feed your baby; which pediatrician to choose—all questions that became even more fraught thanks to COVID. And while parents often search for the “right answer,” we know that no single solution works for every baby and every family. In fact, most parenting is trial and error, and it’s inevitable that we will all make mistakes along the way. Discussing decisions like these with unbiased folks like our Visiting Moms can be a valuable, no-judgement way to choose a path for your family.

Family expectations are often difficult to manage in the newborn stage: Who can visit? How long can your mother or mother-in-law stay? Your energy levels and needs will change over time, and tensions can run higher during COVID if family members are not aligned around safety concerns. Finding your voice as a new parent takes time, as does learning to trust yourself. Connecting with an impartial outsider can help you find your voice and the confidence to communicate your needs more clearly to family members.
   
Many parents of newborns experience anxiety and depression. Sometimes having these strong feelings makes it hard to connect or bond with our newborns, and the pandemic has only exacerbated those feelings. It’s important to seek help if you or your partner are struggling. Whether it’s a support group, a therapist, medication, or a combination, help is available—all virtually, which means you can participate from home. For instance, JF&CS “This Isn’t What I Expected” is a free weekly support group that addresses these and similar issues. JF&CS also recently launched Mental Health Connect— a free, confidential information and referral service. 

Having a new baby is almost always isolating and exhausting. COVID has taken it to a new level. New parents may feel cheated of the experience they expected and dreamed about. They are missing the opportunity to share their early parenting time and be witnessed as parents. They may also be missing the home cooked meals supplied by family members, or the extra hands to hold a crying baby. Sharing these feelings with others can be an important release, even if it can’t change the feelings themselves. 

Working from home does have benefits for parents of newborns, but it isn't without challenges. Leaving your baby to return to work often comes with mixed emotions and involves many decisions. Right now, out-of-home childcare is more limited, and having someone come into your home may not be an option for you. Even if it is, listening to someone else take care of your baby while you're trying to work is often distracting. No matter what you choose it will involve a big adjustment—give yourself time to settle into that next phase of your lives as a family. 

No matter how much you prepared, having a baby is likely to bring intense waves of feelings: joy, doubt, fear, excitement, anxiety, exhaustion, elation… and some indescribable and confusing combination of them all. Visiting Moms remember how it felt in the early months! They are here to listen, to understand and encourage, and most of all to accompany you as you find your way with your baby. Learn more about Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms.


An older man video chatting on a smartphone.
January 20, 2021

Posted by Karen Wasserman, Director of Your Elder Experts 

Expert Advice
Many older adults have been living with strict social distancing measures for months now. With few opportunities to leave home or host visitors, it’s all too easy for seniors to slide into social isolation.

The good news is that it’s still possible for older adults to stay connected with the people and communities that matter most to them. Your Elder Experts (YEE) is a JF&CS program that works with older adults, as well as their care partners and families, to enhance quality of life, encourage independence, and provide a safe and supportive living environment. The YEE team has put together five tips for helping older adults stay socially engaged and active.

1. Reach Out — Don’t Wait to Be Called

Some older adults can be hesitant to initiate a phone call or a video chat, even when they would love to talk to a friend or family member. Instead of waiting to be called, proactively reach out to the older adults in your life. Try establishing a set time each day or week to check in with a call or FaceTime. A handwritten card or letter can be a nice surprise as well!

2.Get Creative on Zoom

While Zoom video conferencing is great for conversation, you don’t have to just sit and talk! During these past several months, we have heard about some truly creative uses of Zoom. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

  • Grandparents can read bedtime stories to their grandchildren over Zoom. Alternately, you can read a short story, an interesting article, or even some poetry to an older adult in your life.
  • Bring your laptop into the kitchen and chat while you cook dinner. You can even choose the same recipe and enjoy preparing a meal together.
  • A number of board games and card games can be played over Zoom, including Boggle, Yahtzee, Pictionary, Chess, Bingo, Uno, and Bridge. A virtual game night can be a lot of fun!

3. Enjoy Virtual Activities Online

An older man video chatting on Zoom.There are endless opportunities for intellectual stimulation and social connection online. A few older adults we know enjoy the free nightly streams from the Metropolitan Opera and the free virtual programs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other popular activities include playing against the computer or against competitors from around the world on Chess.com and solving the free daily crossword from The Washington Post.

Older adults living with dementia can attend virtual memory cafés, which offer live entertainment on Zoom and the chance to chat with others in a welcoming environment. Those with Parkinson’s disease can get some exercise with a Therapeutic Dance Class or strengthen their voices by singing with the Tremble Clefs Chorus.

4. Try Distance Learning by Phone

If you know an older adult who isn’t tech-savvy or doesn’t own a computer, they can still enjoy virtual activities using their phone. A number of organizations offer phone-based Distance Learning opportunities where participants can strike up a conversation and learn about art, history, languages, music, and other interesting topics. Check out this flyer to learn more about Distance Learning providers.

5. Meet Outdoors When You Can

An older woman wearing a face mask outdoors.When the weather is nice, taking a short walk outdoors while wearing masks is a healthy and safe way to stay connected. Sitting out on a front porch or a back patio on a sunny day is another pleasant way to pass a socially-distanced afternoon with an older adult friend or relative.

While these strategies can help keep social isolation at bay, we understand that these suggestions aren’t feasible for everyone — especially those with limited access to technology.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried about an older adult in your life, please don’t hesitate to contact Your Elder Experts. Our clinicians are available for consultation and ongoing care management. Give us a call at 781-693-5052 or email info@yourelderexperts.com.


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