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February 26, 1982 - Image 60

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-02-26

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60 Friday, February 26, 1982

Elderly Residents Enjoy JFS Group Living Program

children and other relatives
and friends invited by resi-
dents to the party, which"
also included the Jewish
Family Service social work-
ers, housekeepers and other
Following the meal, vol-
unteer Geri Levit per-
formed folk songs in
English Yiddish and He-
brew on her guitar,
encouraging everybody to
sing along.
The Group Residences
for Elderly program,
consisting of four apart-
ment units each housing
three individuals, is de-
signed to provide sup-


Jewish Welfare Federation

•Some 35 persons gathered
recently in the Carlyle
Tower Apartments social
room in Southfield to enjoy
deli sandwiches,. musical
entertainment and conver-
sation at a very special
"My grandfather's taking
me to lunch!" exclaimed a
pleased Fran Finsilver,
guest of 92-year-old Joseph
Alter, one of 11 participants
in the Jewish Family Serv-
ice's Group Residences for
Elderly program. She was
one of the children, rand-

port services to frail el-
derly persons who need
to live in a semi-protec-
tive environment, but
who do not require nurs-
ing home or institutional
care. Arlene Goldberg,
social worker coor-
dinator, said while resi-
dents are encouraged to
function as indepen-
dently as possible, they
have the security of
knowing they can call
upon their apartment-
mates, other building
residents, social workers
and housekeepers for as-
sistance when needed.
Currently, the co t for


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each residents participation
in the program, including
all meals and apartment
rent, is $700 a month. Resi-
dents or their families are
charged based on their abil-
ity to pay. The Jewish
Community Foundation of
the United Jewish
Charities, senior agency of
the Jewish Welfare Federa-
tion, provides additional
funding for the program
through special demonstra-
tion grant.
Samuel Lerner, executive
director of the Jewish Fam-
ily Service, said the Group
Residences program, now in
its third year, is seeking an
alternative source of fund-
ing for the future since
foundation grants are
awarded only on a short-
term basis.
The JFS leases four
three-bedroom apartments
in the Carlyle Tower and
each has his or her own
room. The residents gener-
ally furnish their own bed- -
rooms and JFS outfits the
kitchen, dining area and
living room.
One of the major aims
of the program is to help
residents adjust to each
other's habits and tem-
peraments. Initially, the
JFS has prospective
roommates meet infor-
mally, perhaps at lunch,
to assess if the trio will be
compatible. The social
workers also try to match
up individuals to balance
out their physical infir-
mities; for example, plac-
ing someone with poor
vision in an apartment
with others who see well.
According to Zena Baum,
JFS supervisor and pro-
gram coordinator, one of the
most beneficial aspects of
Group Residences for El-
derly is that the residents
learn to assist each other as
needed, becoming an ex-
tended family. Problems
that arise in the course of
everyday living are dis-
cussed at a weekly meeting
for all residents, conducted
by social workers Fae
Kleinplatz and Judy Op-
If the residents in one
apartment are having diffi-
culty in working out a dis-
hwashing schedule, for
example, other residents
who have worked through
that situation may be able
to give their input, said Ms.
Kleinplatz. The residents'
concerns also are given at-
tention at regular program
evaluation meetings with
the social workers.
Mrs. Baum gets addi-
tional insight into the needs
of residents during her
weekly visits to each
apartment. Resident
Elizabeth Levin said she
looks forward to the _con-
tacts: "When I know Zena is
coming, I get up and get
dressed even when I don't
feel like it."
Mrs. Levin also is fond
of her housekeeper, Zina
Kuzmis, who is one of
four Russian women
hired by the JFS to pro-
vide supportive services
for the residents as
Each housekeeper is as-

Housekeeper Zina Kumsis, left, and resident
Elizabeth Levin are shown enjoying a recent parf -
the Jewish Family Service's Group Residences ft ,e
Elderly program.

Folksinger Geri Levit entertains the residents.

signed to an apartment, per-
forming household or per-
sonal tasks the residents
cannot handle for them-
selves. These might include
preparing dinner, doing
laundry and cleaning or
helping the elderly with
their baths. If needed, the
housekeepers will go groc-
ery shopping weekly, and
attempt to buy the foods and
prepare the meals favored
by their apartment occup-
The individuals usually
prepare their own break-
fasts and lunches and re-
heat the dinners left for
them to eat on weekends.
During their training
period at JFS, the Russian
women are told that their
biggest responsibility is the
relationship they develop
with the residents.
"They definitely are not
maids,-" said Mrs. Baum. "If
the housekeepers are sit-
ting and kibitzing with the
residents over tea, they're
still doing their job."
Since the program be-
gan, the Russian women
and the residents have
developed a close rap-
port. Housekeeper
Rashel Samoylov, on the
job since 1979, said the
men she assists are "like
my own people." Mrs.
Kuzmis playfully calls
Mrs. Levin "her baby,"
since at age 76, Mrs.
Levin is the youngest of
the ladies in her apart-
Residents are given op-
portunities for diversion in
their lives. During the
summer, there are weekly
outings to places like Ken-
sington Park or nearby
parks for picnics. The
Jewish Community Center
sends a bus almost every
weekday morning to pick up
persons interested in join-
ing senior citizen activities
at the Jimmy Prentis Mor-
ris Branch in Oak Park.
When residents want to
go shopping or to the doctor
and their families are un-

able to take them, JFS Vol-
unteer Services Coor-
dinator Fayga Dombey tries
to arrange for a volunteer
driver and car.
To make the winter
months more interesting,
the JFS is starting a hand-
icrafts class for residents,
and they also are enjoying
the weekly visits of a retired
gentleman who chats and
plays cards with them.
On their own, many of
the residents play bingo
and watch soap operas
on television. Herman
Gross said he enjoys writ-
ing poetry. Another resi-
dent, Hanna Levady,
does volunteer work at
Sinai Hospital as a par-
ticipant in the Senior
Service Corps, a program
of the Jewish Vocational
A high point for residents
is visits from family. A so-
cial worker commented that
the roommates share in the
pleasure when one of them
has small grandchildren or
great-grandchildren come
to call.
Mrs. Baum said that be-
cause the parents are so
well provided for under the
Group Residences program,
their children come to visit
them "out of caring — not
"The children feel more
comfortable about taking
vacations because they
know their parents are less
isolated and less dependent
then they were before," she
said. The grandchilren, too,
find the residents to be
"peppier and less den'
The Group Residences
program is supervised by
JFS' Housing Relocation
Committee. Its chairman,
Marvin Daitch, said he
feels the experimental
program has had
"phenomenal success"
thus far.
For information on the
program, contact Mrs.
Baum at the JFS office,

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