Posted by Marsha Frankel, Clinical Director of Senior Services

I haven’t met any long lost relatives yet but have been welcomed with hugs and kisses by new found colleagues. The warmth and hospitality is truly amazing. We spent the day at Beit Baruch and met with the managers, observed an exercise class, and met some amazing elders. The facility is spotless, airy, and sunny with a sense of a home rather than an institution.

Opening the door to the room used as meeting space and a synagogue, we were greeted by lovely classical music being played on the piano by one of the residents. She has some challenging psychiatric issues and takes herself to this room to play the piano and soothe herself. What a wonderful method of self-care with no cost and no side effects! We were honored with a poem by one older woman, a needlepoint picture as a gift from another, and a public greeting from the head of the resident council who dressed for the occasion in a suit with his war medals proudly displayed.

At Beit Baruch the elders who are able to assist all have assigned jobs such as folding and placing napkins on the dining tables. After eating they bring their dirty dishes to a central place. Many of the residents enter thin and malnourished and gradually gain weight and improve their health with the care and food they receive.

The exercise class, one of several groups held daily, had 18 older adults including two in wheelchairs who were post stroke and could only move one side of their bodies. The only voice heard was the instructor’s and the residents all followed along doing the exercises while seemingly fully engaged, despite their medical and cognitive struggle.

Tomorrow I will be sharing with the staff some specific techniques for dealing with challenging behaviors in dementia as dementia impacts a great number of their residents. Beit Baruch’s choral group of 16 residents will hold a concert for us. I am especially looking forward to their rendition of “My Yiddisher Mama,” which was one of my late mother’s favorite songs that she learned from her Russian mother.

More from Dnep later this week.

You can read more about this amazing trip in my previous blog post. Read Part III, here.

Marsha Frankel, LICSW, is the Clinical Director of JF&CS Senior Services. She has many years of direct and consultative experience working with older adults in a variety of settings.