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November 23, 1984 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-11-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

14

Friday, November 23, 1984 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

HEART
is where
the home is

A Jewish Family Service
program allows seniors to
maintain dignity and
independence in a group home
setting.

BY TEDD SCHNEIDER
Staff Writer
and
HEIDI PRESS
Local News Editor

Minnie Aaron enjoys a game of bingo at one of the monthly parties.

erman Boraks, the newest
resident in the Jewish
Family Service Group
Apartments for- the El-
derly project, is an "acci-
dent" victim — and project coordinator
Zena Baum couldn't be more pleased.
Earlier this year, when doctors
told Boraks, 82, that his heart condi-
tion made it inadvisable to live alone,
the fiercely independent native of De-
nmark didn't know where to turn. But
then a JFS volunteer inadvertently
mentioned the group apartments.
Boraks, calling his discovery a "happy
accident," moved into a two-bedroom
unit in Southfield's Carlyle Towefs
during the summer, joining roommate
Sol Lieberoff, one of the pioneering
tenants in the program.
For the first time in my life, I was
face to face with the necessity of giving
up my independence," Boraks said as
he was showing off the seventh floor
apartment that he now shares with
Lieberoff. Realizing that for health
and security reasons he had to be
someplace where people could keep an
eye on me," Boraks was nonetheless
wary of trading in the self-sufficient
lifestyle he had led since his wife died
in 1971.
The independence that Boraks
treasures is important to the people of
JFS as well. In fact, helping the elderly
maintain their dignity and identity is
one -of the primary objectives of the
Group Apartments project, according
to Baum. While the 15 men and
women currently residing in the Car-
lyle Tower Apartments on Providence
Drive in Southfield were placed to-
gether according to their physical con-
dition and ability to live with each
other, Baum encourages each tenant

to do as much for himself as possible.
"It wasn't because I didn't like the
people here; that's not what made me
so hesitant," Boraks said, recalling his
feelings after an initial visit. "I just
didn't have enough faith in myself. I
had no idea how well I could get along
in close proximity with one or two
other men I would be living with.
But when I saw that I could in-
deed live a private life here, in addi-
tion to getting any medical attention
that I might need, my worries began to
fade."
Begun in 1979 with the help of a
$250,000 endowment, Group Apart-
ments for the Elderly currently main-
tains five units with a sixth apartment
scheduled to open Dec. 2. A seventh is
planned for later this winter.
At first glance, a five-year-old
program with only 15 clients may
seem to be progressing at a snail's
pace. But one reason for the relatively
low number of participants is the care-
ful screening process that JFS has in-
corporated into the project. Candi-
dates for the Group Apartments are
found by JFS staffers and through re-
ferrals. A thorough social, psychologi-
cal and physical assessment is made of
the applicant and those who prove to
be a good match for the other residents
in a particular apartment where a va-
cancy exists are accepted into the pro-
gram.
It is preparatory work like this
that usually leads to a smooth rela-
tionship between roommates. Ethel
Feldman, who shares an apartment
with two other women on the eighth
floor is, though she may not realize it,
paying a quiet tribute to Baum when
she says, "There is great harmony
among the three of us."

,

As comprehensive as the selection
process is, it is not perfect, Baum ad-
mits. "There is always the chance that
things won't work out. When we dis-
cover that there is friction between a
set of roommates, we try to come up
with some sort of compromise, or, fail-
ing that, a new arrangement that is
acceptable to everyone involved.
We are not afraid to admit our
mistakes and we take great efforts to
correct them.'
The JFS furnishes the "common"
rooms in each apartment: living room,
dining room, kitchen and bathroom.
Residents are encouraged to bring
their own bedroom furniture and any
other pieces to which special memories

are attached or that they feel will
make the apartment look more like
home.
Feldman, who moved into the
Group Apartments three years ago,
took a set of delicate, hand-carved
figurines and arranged them on a shelf
in the living room. "There is a lot of
pride involved in keeping up your own
place, and these (the figurines) make
me feel like I am in my own place," she
said.
For Boraks and Lieberoff, music
helped ease the transition into a new
environment. The fact that each man
is an opera buff with a sizeable collec-
tion of records (the work of JFS
"matchmakers" was really apparent

Director Zena Baum talks to Apartmentmates and housekeepers.

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