Older Americans' Month

Older Americans' Month is coming in May. Here is our own tribute to those persons who are foremost in our minds— CJE’s own Older Americans. On the following pages, we are honored to present “snapshots” of a handful of people who benefit from CJE’s network of compassionate care. We thank Al, Cera, Eileen, Jerry, Marcia, Marge, Marlene, Matus, Millie, Scott, Rebecca and all of CJE’s Older Americans (over 23,000 in the past year!) for giving us the opportunity to serve them!

CJE Older American: Marlene H.

  • Parent of an adult child with a disability
  • Member of Linkages Support Group

Marlene, whose adult daughter has a developmental disability, found that once her daughter was out of the educational system, any support Marlene had received before was no longer available. She found herself very isolated without any resources and no one to talk to who had similar concerns. Then she found Linkages, with its support group, resources, programs and informational meetings. She has been involved for over eight years now, traveling miles to attend its support group, claiming “there is nothing else like it.”


Linkages is a CJE program that helps with the unique challenges that arise for aging adults who have family members with disabilities. Linkages helps with these adults’ complex concerns, which often involve financial, social, emotional and physical issues. Adult caregivers often worry about who will be around to care for their family member with a disability. The need is great. Statistics show that more than three-fourths of persons with disabilities are aging in place with family members, a number that will only grow.

CJE’s Linkages program is unique because it is one of only a few programs like it in the country, and the only one in Chicago. Linkages was originally formed to reduce the potential institutionalization or homelessness of adult children with disabilities and to give support to their aging parents.

New legislation like the Affordable Care Act and revisions to other programs have caused confusion and created the need for more information for caregivers of adults with disabilities. CJE’s Linkages offers many ways to keep abreast of the changes in services on the state and federal level. Recent presentations have included subjects such as fair housing laws; accessible public transportation; pooled trusts and estate planning; and benefits such as insurance, utilities and food for people with disabilities. Linkages also hosts an annual Policy, Advocacy and You program every February, which is Jewish Disability Awareness Month.

Linkages offers many ways for older adults with family members with disabilities to connect. They can call and receive information and referrals to aging and disability resources in Illinois. A monthly support group provides members a small group setting to share experiences and to help reduce feelings of isolation. Linkages holds social events twice a year, providing adults with disabilities and their families with a positive and fun way to connect with one another. A quarterly newsletter is published, providing updates on current disability issues as well as information on upcoming programs.

To find out more about how Linkages has become such a vital “link” for older adults who care for family members with disabilities, call the Linkages Line at 773.508.1106 or email Linkages@cje.net.

CJE Older American: Cera G.

  • 100-year-old Friend Center resident
  • Avid member of Dance/Movement Therapy class and other Life Enrichment classes

Cera was born in April 1915 and is remarkably flexible for a centenarian. She maintains these qualities through her regular participation in Dance/Movement Therapy classes at The Friend Center in Deerfield. She lives every day to the fullest, which is something the myriad of Friend Center activities helps her to do. She also enjoys the Culinary Corner cooking class, watercolors, trivia, Women’s Group, sing-along and Wii Bowling. According to Friend Center staff, her ability to remain happy, healthy, and positive can be attributed to her three favorite sayings: “Let it go,” “This too shall pass,” and “It is what it is.”

Dance/Movement Therapy

The Friend Center at Weinberg Community offers a regular schedule of Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) classes to its residents. The American Dance Therapy Association defines Dance/Movement Therapy as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual. It is taught by Registered Dance/ Movement Therapists (R-DMT).

DMT is conducted by having the participants sit in a circle, listen to music, use props and move along with one another. This activity creates a sense of community and safety. It fosters a feeling of belonging and provides a greatly needed forum for social interaction, mutual support and exchange.

Research shows that individuals who participate in Dance/Movement Therapy show marked improvement in the following attributes:

  • Self-esteem
  • Social connection
  • Affect (or reaction to stimuli)
  • Mobilization of upper and lower extremities
  • Body-mind connection
  • Non-verbal communication and self-expression
  • Hand/eye coordination
  • Self-awareness

Most important, DMT at Weinberg Community’s Friend Center allows the residents to participate from a place of ability rather than disability. The Therapist focuses on what the residents are able to do, rather than what they can’t do. Whether it is just lifting an arm or a hand, any movement is important and celebrated. At The Friend Center for Memory Care all movement is meaningful and encouraged and beneficial to a person’s well-being.

Find out what else Cera enjoys about the Friend Center for Memory Care. Besides her Dance/Movement class, we offer a variety of Life Enrichment activities that stimulate, maximize an individual’s potential and instill autonomy and self-esteem. Call 847.374.0500 for a tour.

CJE Older American: Jerry W.

  • Sought relief from grief after his mother’s death
  • Member of CJE Bereavement Support Group

About three months after Jerry lost his mother, he joined CJE’s Bereavement Support Group and has been a member ever since. He drives one hour each way every week to attend. He emphasizes that although his loss was the initial impetus for attending, the group has become so much more for him. Jerry stresses how deeply committed he is to the group. Although attendance is flexible, Jerry says he bears a profound responsibility to the group and feels an obligation to attend meetings. Sharing common experiences and emotions regarding the loss of a loved one would cause most people to become close. He regards his support group as extended family. And he feels that the members need him as much as he needs them.

Bereavement Support Group

The loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences we encounter in life. Even well- meaning acquaintances and friends can often send the message that one should “move on” and hurry through the grieving process. In reality, grieving is not a time-limited process and adjustment to loss can be challenging even for those with excellent coping skills.

To address this need, CJE has offered the “Living Life Through Loss” group for many years. It is a drop-in bereavement support group offered through our Community Counseling Department. The group is open to anyone who has recently lost a significant person in his or her life. The group is facilitated by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who provides education about the grief process and helps group members to share their experiences with one another in a safe and supportive environment. Some of the members have been attending this group for a more prolonged period of time and have come to view the group as “an extended family.” These long-time members are also very welcoming of new group members.

For those who may benefit from individual counseling as an adjunct to the group, referral to one of CJE’s experienced social workers is also available for one-on-one support.

March is Social Work Awareness Month. Join us as we recognize CJE’s team of highly-skilled Licensed Clinical Social Workers and Clinical Social Workers who are specialists in the field of older adult mental health. They facilitate many support groups in addition to providing private counseling. Call 773.508.1000 for more information.

CJE Older American: Matus S.

  • Holocaust survivor
  • Receives assistance from Holocaust Community Services

Matus enumerates the many ways that Holocaust Community Services (HCS) has assisted him—including emergency funds for food and dental work. He is especially grateful to receive 20 to 25 hours a week of home care support. His wife, also a survivor, received such care before moving to Lieberman Center for a higher level of care. The home care assistance has been so vital to Matus and his wife that he does not know how they would have managed without it.

Matus also stresses the value of a weekly support group for Holocaust survivors called “Coffee and Conversation.” It gives him a forum where he can tell his story to others who understand. He explains: “I do not go around telling my story to everybody, every day. So this group gives me the chance to tell my story to survivors, and it’s a little bit of a release for me.” The same goes for the group members. They share their experiences, and Matus can empathize with their stories of suffering. “That’s an important exchange for each of us,” he says.

Holocaust Community Services

Since 1999, Holocaust Community Services (HCS), a collaboration of Jewish Child and Family Services, CJE and the Jewish Federation, in partnership with HIAS Chicago, has helped ensure that the Chicago Holocaust survivor community and their families can continue to live independently and to age with dignity. Just a year ago, we had the honor of welcoming the management of Holocaust Community Services back to CJE. We have since been reminded of the tremendous needs of the survivor community. HCS reaches out to approximately 800 Holocaust survivors and their families annually, offering support groups, socialization programs and assistance with various Holocaust reparations and compensation programs. About half that number receives ongoing financial help with food, medication, home care or emergency needs.

The average age of a survivor in our HCS Program is 79, with nearly a quarter 85 or older. The consequences of advanced aging are compounded by the physical and emotional horrors they endured during the war, leaving severe medical and psychological complications. As aging and frailty take their toll, the number of Holocaust survivors turning to community agencies has intensified. HCS’s survivor community has also been affected by reductions in public benefits for older adults, so HCS particularly focuses on assisting the neediest and most vulnerable survivors who may not have other means of support.

CJE’s mission to enhance the lives of older adults has been tapped regularly by Holocaust Community Services. Survivors have been able to benefit from CJE’s expertise in counseling, support and referral services for older adults. HCS case managers have facilitated in-home support, including personal care and housekeeping, kosher food, transportation and provided training for professionals who work with survivors and their families.

Holocaust Community Services has many support groups and activities for survivors. For more information call 773.508.1004.

CJE Older American: Mildred F.M.

  • Retired financial planner
  • A client of Your Eldercare Consultants Bill Paying Service

Mildred had a successful career as a financial planner and loved the formal structure of her job. Now that she is not working, she finds that the help of a professional Bill Paying Service keeps her on track and organized. Plus, she enjoys the warm, cooperative relationship she shares with our Bill Paying Consultant who has assisted her for over four years.

Your Eldercare Consultants Bill Paying Service

Everyone likes to be organized and to know where things are. It’s also important to pay bills when they are due, because not doing so can cause severe financial problems. With Your Eldercare Consultants Bill Paying Service, our efficient Consultant works side-by-side with clients and organizes paperwork, receipts and tax documents. She manages monthly bill paying and reconciles checkbooks. When working directly with a client is not possible, our Consultant can take over other responsibilities such as preparing checks for signature and making bank deposits. Sorting mail is another task that can be handled easily. Our Consultant can also plan budgets and track expenses to make sure spending is managed.

For more complex needs our Consultant will negotiate with creditors. She will review notices from Medicare and insurance companies, file insurance claims for reimbursement, verify that claims were properly processed and deposit reimbursements. While all of this sensitive and precise work is being accomplished, Your Eldercare Consultants adhere to strict protocols and in-house audits.

In addition to this valuable service, Your Eldercare Consultants also offer a Clutter Management and Organization Service. A professional organizer will come to your home to help you de-clutter and provide some understanding of why things got out of control. We also offer a four-week “Conquer Your Clutter” Series. Call 773.508.4923 to make an appointment or register for the series.

CJE Older American: Al N.

  • Resident of Lieberman Center
  • Frequent participant of Parkinson’s exercise classes

For Al, who has Parkinson’s disease, taking the special Parkinson’s exercise classes at Lieberman Center is a priority, and he tries not to miss any of them. He goes to the Dance/Movement class on Wednesdays and he attends the Tai Chi class on Thursdays. Al particularly likes the Dance/Movement class because it reminds him of when he was younger and would dance on a regular basis. For all the members of this class, it also offers the added benefit of community involvement. Plus, participants can provide some input. They get to suggest the music they like to move to—Big Band and jazz are among the regular choices. Cole Porter’s music is Al’s favorite. When given the opportunity to lead the class, he didn’t miss his chance. “It’s great,” he said. “I love it!” Of course, the Tai Chi class, Al’s other exercise class, has quite a different mood and style of movement.

Parkinson's Dance/Movement and Tai Chi Classes

CJE SeniorLife is committed to providing innovative support to persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and is one of the area’s most knowledgeable providers of therapeutic classes to help alleviate the symptoms of PD. These two specially-designed Parkinson’s disease exercise classes are appropriate for seated people as well as those who can stand. Also, caregivers can participate in the classes to learn the movements and practice them at home with the participant. All of our PD classes are offered free to our residents and the public.

Dance/Movement Therapy provides motivation for people with Parkinson’s to keep moving and express themselves through nonverbal communication. This class includes a body warm-up, movement exploration, cool-down and processing. The group focuses on participants’ movements rather than on learning traditional types of dance. Many people with Parkinson’s experience a decrease in symptoms when practicing dance and movement, which allows for more calm and organized movement overall. Benefits include increased flexibility, energy and range of motion. The class is taught by a certified Dance Movement Therapist.

Tai Chi is a low impact form of exercise that puts minimal stress on muscles and joints. It uses slow, intentional, controlled movements and gradual shifts of body weight, making it safe for people of all ages and fitness levels. Persons with Parkinson’s and their caregivers learn breathing exercises, basic stance and alignment, postures and relaxation skills. Benefits include improved posture, balance and range of motion. This class is taught by a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine.

These are just two of our many Parkinson’s programs. We also offer a Basic Parkinson’s exercise class at Lieberman Center. Weinberg Community also offers a Basic Parkinson’s exercise class, plus a Parkinson’s Caregiver Support Group. All require registration. Call 847.929.3022 to register for Lieberman Center classes and 847.236.7852 to register for Weinberg Community classes.

CJE Older American: Marge W.

  • Seeks social contact and structure in her day
  • Participant at Adult Day Services—Evanston

Marge moved to Chicago from Indiana to be closer to her two daughters. Now, she and Cooper, her chocolate Lab, share an apartment. But her daughters knew she needed some more companionship, activity and stimulation than apartment living could provide. So Marge decided to attend Adult Day Services (ADS) in Evanston. According to ADS Program Manager Becca Galuska, Marge’s mind, body and spirit are all engaged while she is at ADS. She is always excited to take part in nearly every activity that’s offered at ADS, including, Music and Drama Therapy, cognition-enhancing games, parties, celebrations, exercise, meditation and much more. Marge particularly enjoys the Art Therapy Program and the Open Art Studios. She feels these give her a chance to engage her senses and to lose herself in her art. Her cheerfulness, love of color and enjoyment are clearly evident in her striking artwork.

Adult Day Services — Evanston

Adult Day Services is a unique day program that offers nurturing, supervised and structured programs for people who are socially isolated or frail, as well as those with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments. CJE’s caring, professional staff—with special training in aging issues and dementia—provides stimulating programs in a secure, supportive group setting. Our full spectrum of life enriching activities and socialization opportunities engage all the senses, nurture each person’s well-being and integrate the whole self. These include sensory experiences, physical activities, intergenerational events, entertainment, therapy groups and discussions.

Our ADS Program can enhance the quality of life for a loved one, all while providing families with a much needed respite. Other benefits of Adult Day Services- Evanston include free transportation within specified boundaries and nutritious meals and snacks. There is also a full time registered nurse and social worker on staff. Participants can receive assistance with personal care.

If you find that your loved one is lonely or isolated, needs structure during the day, needs care when you work outside the home or that you just need some “personal time,” ADS might be a good solution. Call 847.492.1400 for more information or to schedule a tour.

CJE Older American: Marcia G.

  • Resident at CJE’s Village Center for ten years
  • Consumer of Home-Delivered Meals

Marcia has lived independently at Village Center for the past ten years. She enjoys participating in the community’s Yiddish and current event classes, the diversity of the residents and the building’s close proximity to the much-acclaimed Skokie Public Library.

Marcia also appreciates having her meals delivered weekly from CJE’s Home-Delivered Meals (HDM) Program. She says, “The meals are so convenient because when I don’t feel like cooking or run out of other groceries, they’re here to prepare and I look forward to it.”

She discovered the program soon after moving into Village Center, and looks forward to seeing the volunteers who deliver her meals every Monday. While she doesn’t keep kosher for religious purposes, she prefers the quality of HDM’s kosher food over other meal delivery services. She really appreciates the personal, warm touch of CJE’s home-delivered staff who are “always smiling” and remember her birthday with a special card every year.

Home-Delivered Meals

CJE’s HDM Program delivers kosher meals to older adults who are unable to shop and/or prepare food throughout the north and northwest neighborhoods of Chicago as well as Evanston, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove and Niles. HDM also recently expanded its services in two additional suburban areas—- Northfield Township and New Trier Township. As another benefit of the HDM Program, staff and volunteers perform “wellness” checks to make sure clients answer their door and are eating their food.

To learn more about meal delivery, menu and special diet options, eligibility and pricing, please call 773.508.1000 or visit http://cje.net/ support-services/food/home-delivered-meals.

CJE Older American: Eileen B.

  • Caregiver of husband who has Alzheimer’s
  • Member of Support Group for Family Caregivers of Adult Day Services-Deerfield Clients

Eileen joined the Caregivers Support Group at Weinberg Community’s Friend Center after her husband, who has Alzheimer’s, started attending Adult Day Services (ADS) in July. She is often accompanied by her daughter who also benefits from the support group. Eileen appreciates how the three professionals who facilitate the group really validate her caregiving skills with their specialized expertise and sensitive approach. When she describes to them how she handled a situation they’ll say “you’re doing great!” or “you handled it so well.” Eileen faces new challenges daily, and she often doesn’t know if she’s doing the right thing. But the leaders always “suggest” things she might try, without telling her what to do or pushing her, which is comforting and reassuring.

“One of the major benefits of the group is that it makes you feel that you are not alone at this time in your life... that there are other people going through the same thing with their loved one ... that everybody is doing the best they can. Some days are better than others, you know.” says Eileen, “and that’s the way it’s going to be.” She says it’s nice to listen to the other members and see how they handled a situation that she hasn’t encountered yet. She often thinks, “Gee, I’d better remember that as I may need this information someday.” Eileen believes that this Support Group is by far the most helpful thing she can do for herself because she is surrounded by people who really understand her situation.

Support Group for Family Caregivers of Adult Day Services - Deerfield Clients

This is a free support group open to caregivers of persons who attend Adult Day Services (ADS) in Deerfield, a program at Weinberg Community’s Friend Center for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders. The purpose of the group is to help members learn about dementia and its special caregiving requirements, as well as provide emotional support, information, resources and coping strategies. In this group, members meet others who face similar challenges and find out that they are not alone in their journey of caregiving for a loved one. Attending a support group allows members to both give and receive support. The facilitators will also help members to discover ways to relieve caregiver stress and burn- out. This group is led by two Licensed Clinical Social Workers and a Licensed Professional Counselor/ Registered Dance Movement Therapist.

If your loved one attends ADS in Deerfield then you should attend this support group, held the 2nd Tuesday of the month from 2-3:00 p.m. For more information about the support group call 847.236.7826. For more information about ADS in Deerfield, call 847.374.0500.

CJE Older American: Scott F.

  • Older adult who chooses independent group living
  • Robineau resident who lives the good life there

Life is what you make it, and most of the time, your sense of well-being can be enhanced by where you live. Scott F. is living proof that a positive community living environment can change the course of your life. He is very involved in all the socialization opportunities offered at Robineau Residence, one of CJE’s thriving independent living communities. Scott participates in intergenerational programming, fitness activities, sports (Go Cubbies!) and historical talks with other residents.

At Robineau, there’s a healthy dose of just about everything to keep the atmosphere light and friendly. You might be hard-pressed to find time to just enjoy your own room! According to Scott, “Robineau is a family for me and I enjoy it. My mom would say, ‘Stay with your friends.’”

And sticking with his friends has certainly enriched Scott’s life.

Robineau Residence

The ranch-style group residence, located in a neighborhood near parks and shopping, is a unique community with many amenities for individuals 55 and older. Robineau features 24 private rooms and baths arranged in suites around a living room and a breakfast nook. Amenities include group activities, meals, transportation, excursions and 24-hour staff. Residents must qualify for subsidized housing under the provisions of HUD’s Section 8 program.

To learn more about Robineau Residence and CJE’s independent living communities, and find the right fit for you or your loved one, please call 773.508.1000 or visit http://cje.net/ independent-living.

CJE Older American: Rebecca C.

  • A woman who likes to keep very busy
  • Active Virtual Senior Center program participant

When Rebecca C. powers up her PC, she’s connecting to the Internet like many of us do... searching social networks like Facebook or Twitter, checking email regularly or hunting for information that delves deeper into subjects that interest her. But that’s not all... she’s also working with a fitness instructor, participating in Sabbath services and engaging with her children and grandchildren in real-time through the Virtual Senior Center (VSC). As someone who isn’t able to get out of her home very often, the VSC brings the outside world to her.

According to Rebecca, “I’m 92 years old, and I don’t feel like it, and I don’t act it. I’m inquisitive about everything. I don’t like the alternative—doing nothing—so I keep busy. And the VSC is a great way for me to do that.” Tapping into this world of online classes, particularly Jewish programming, email, and Skype through the VSC has been a wonderful portal for Rebecca to meet and maintain friendships with her peers from across the U.S. In fact, the regular “virtual block party” has transformed her overall spirit.

The Virtual Senior Center (VSC)

The VSC is a collaboration of CJE SeniorLife and Selfhelp Community Services in New York that brings interactive web-based classes and a means of socialization through technology to older adults in Chicago. It’s easy to use with large buttons and simple navigation. It offers many benefits including encouraging social interaction, helping users develop new online friendships and enabling real-time connection with friends and family. The VSC is used safely in the comfort of one’s home. In addition to access to email, Skype and dozens of classes, the VSC is pre-programmed with popular websites. Technical support and setup assistance with email and social media are also available for a fee.

To learn more about the VSC program and how it has helped shape the lives of many older adults from their homes or care facilities, please call 773.508.1169 or visit www.cje.net/virtualseniorcenter.