Of the more than 100,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors in the United States, nearly one-quarter are aged 85 or older, and one in four lives in poverty. Many live alone and are at risk for social isolation, depression, and other physical and mental health conditions stemming from periods of starvation, disease, and torture.
Jewish Family Service of the Greater Cincinnati area plays a vital role in responding to these challenges and stresses for the estimated 400-500 Holocaust survivors in the Cincinnati and Dayton communities by offering programs that promote dignity, strength, and empowerment.
One such program, Tablets and Technology: Alleviating Isolation in Holocaust Survivors, teaches Russian- and English-speaking Holocaust survivors, many of whom live at 200% of the poverty level or below, how to use a variety of tablet-based programs to stay connected to friends, family, and the world. The program was funded through a grant from The Jewish Federations of North America through the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, as well as additional funding from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio. Jewish Family Service also partners with Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, and United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
“The care management team at Jewish Family Service helps Holocaust survivors in their homes and at our office by addressing challenges this population encounters as they grow older,” said Liz Vogel, CEO of Jewish Family Service. “Our tablet-based program, Tablets and Technology, combats feelings of isolation and depression by assisting survivors remain connected to their friends and family.”
This program ensures that survivors stay connected to loved ones, while also respecting their need for independence, by teaching them how to communicate and interact with the world electronically through email and video chats, including Skype and Facetime.
More than 40 survivors have successfully completed the Tablets and Technology program since its inaugural year in 2016, and even more will benefit with extended funding in 2018. Here are some examples of how a few participants* have benefited from the program:
Janice, 80, spends most of her time caring for her very ill husband and is therefore unable to visit with friends. The Jewish Family Service Tablets and Technology program has enabled her to now use an iPad to talk with her friends via Skype. She said “I really appreciate the opportunity to learn how to use the iPad considering the age of all the participants. This program gives me hope and the feeling that I still have a lot to learn and look forward to. All of my life is not behind me.”
Simon, 80, is a low-income Holocaust survivor whose relatives live in another country. While he did not originally have any technology devices in his home, he now says “I am very excited to be getting a tablet. When I learn how to use it, I can communicate with my relatives and friends, and read more information.”
Lawrence was a musician in the former Soviet Union and had never worked with an electronic device before entering the program. At first, he did not understand why he needed to learn about email and other iPad features. At one learning session about the web and YouTube, he asked to find someone singing classical Italian music. When he heard the singing, he started to sing along. Today, he is very happy that he has learned to use YouTube and can search for the music he loves.
Through the Jewish Family Service’s Tablets and Technology program, chronic conditions have been cared for, physical health and patients’ well-being have been improved, and in many cases, a sense of hope has been restored.
To learn more about the program and Jewish Family Service, visit or call (513) 469-1188.
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.
Ohio is a rapidly aging state. In fact, projections for the year 2020 suggest that in 86% of Ohio’s counties, 1 in 4 residents will be aged 60 or older. For Warren County, the senior population (ages 65+) grew by 54.4% from 2000 to 2010. As senior citizens age, loneliness is one of the major factors that contribute to a decline in physical and mental health. Being alone, without social support, can lead to depression and self-neglect among the elderly.
The Warren County Friendly Visitor Program began in 2007 after a coalition of professionals interested in helping older adults age safely decided that they
needed extra help to provide their clients with the best support and service. The group’s answer was to solicit individuals equipped to handle a variety of situations and to act as an extra set of eyes and ears, as well as to be a senior’s friend.
Warren County’s Friendly Visitor program is comprised of 22 volunteers who go through a significant selection and training process in order to be prepared to help clients. Through training, they learn about the aging process, the emotional and social changes seniors go through, HIPPA and other regulations, how to identify elder abuse, and home safety, among other topics.Volunteers visit client homes a minimum of once a month and just talk with the seniors. They do not help them clean their homes, deliver them food, or fix items – they sit and have a conversation with them.
“We once had a client who said that their volunteer was the only person to truly look them in the eye and have a conversation with them,” said Karen Hill, aging services director, Warren County Community Services. “It’s a simple act – just to visit with someone. But our volunteers who visit them at least once a month mean the world to them and it’s the highlight of their day.”
To help care managers, volunteers provide a report after each visit. Volunteers have been confronted with many situations that would not have been taken care of if it wasn’t for the trust clients had in them or their frequent visits to their homes. For example, one volunteer was visiting a client and found that she hadn’t been visited by any home care professionals in three days; the instance was reported and she was immediately provided help. Another client trusted her volunteer enough to confide in that the family and neighbors who were supposed to be taking care of her instead were taking advantage of her. She was scared to call the authorities because she was afraid she would be taken out of her home and lose her independence. However, she felt safe to tell her volunteer, and the problem was resolved.
To learn more about the program and other services that the Warren County Community Services offers, visit www.wccsi.org.
March 30, 2015 - Ohio’s youth often find their future and career paths intimidating. They may not know all of the options available to them or where to look to find opportunities. In some rural or urban areas, youth may not think there are any opportunities and they move away, decreasing the valuable human capital in some areas.
To help introduce youth to health care career opportunities and balance the workforce distribution, The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio has invested in organizations that provide education and funding to Ohio youth who are interested in continuing their education in health disciplines.
Two such projects are Health Professions Affinity Communities (HPAC) and Building Bridges to Careers. HealthPath is currently funding three universities to establish HPACs in our service area: Northeast Ohio Medical University (featured below), the University of Cincinnati, and Youngstown State University.
Programs like HPAC and Building Bridges to Careers strive to find the next generation of professionals who want to better serve their communities and become role models, helping HealthPath further its goal of improving workforce development.
To raise awareness about health, HPAC students wrote positive messages and health facts outside of their schools.
Northeast Ohio Medical University’s (NEOMED) HPAC is a program designed to support and guide high school students who have an interest in a career in the health profession. The program offers a variety of academic and community-based experiences with the goal to empower students to take charge of their future and their academic and career development, and to make a difference in the health of their communities in Northeast Ohio. NEOMED is using the HealthPath funding to establish HPACs at Marietta Senior High School in Washington County and Shenandoah High School in Monroe County.
Established in 2011, the NEOMED HPAC program brings student’s ideas to life operating in five stages utilizing the “IDEAS” concept.
Since its inception, more than 2,000 Ohio students have participated in NEOMED HPAC’s five-step program. Additionally, each program is enacted in the local communities and schools and is shared online and in person. NEOMED estimates that more than 10,000 people in Ohio have been impacted by its HPAC.
For more information on HPAC, visit HPAC.me or Facebook.com/NEOMEDHPAC. For more information on Building Bridges to Careers, visit BuildingBridgesToCareers.org.
Hundreds of thousands of children are physically abused each year by someone close to them. In 2014, more than 80,000 cases of child abuse or neglect were filed with children’s services right here in the Buckeye state. Of those, more than 30,000 children (ages 0-17) were victims of a substantiated/indicated case.
During National Mental Health Month in May – and every month – Partnership for Violence Free Families (PVFF), a coalition comprised of individuals representing more than 50 organizations in Allen County, works to support safe and healthy communities through awareness, education and prevention of important issues, such as mental illness.
“Many individuals don’t have the mental health literacy or know what to do when they see someone suffering from a mental illness – but they understand and are even trained to perform Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),” said Donna Dickman, PVFF executive director. “Our goal is to create the same level of understanding within our community and provide similar structured training to address mental health issues.”
PVFF supports evidence-based programs to address abuse and mental health problems in five prevention focus areas, including child abuse, teen dating violence, child sexual assault, mental illness and suicide. One of these programs includes the highly-interactive Mental Health First Aid program, which is an eight-hour course that teaches community members (aiders) how to identify, understand and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses.
In the adult Mental Health First Aid program, aiders learn about anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. Specifically, they learn to be health literate and how to react when they see someone with a mental illness. The program has a five-step action plan to help someone with a mental health problem or how to react in a crisis:
Funding provided by The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio has allowed the Mental Health First Aid program to train nine instructors in a 40-hour course for adult mental health. Additionally, in the last 18 months, more than 380 aiders have been trained.
For more information about the program, visit www.pvff.org.
With the recent news of the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, access to quality healthcare is top of mind for many Ohioans. The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio supports organizations such as the Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center (JCFSHC) that work to improve health care access for underserved populations.
Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center’s “Free to be Healthy” Diabetic Education Program provides patients an education on their illness and collaboratively makes a plan with them, helping them change unhealthy aspects of their lives.
“Our Free to be Healthy Diabetic Education Program was formed in 2012 after our team realized 24% of patients had been diagnosed with diabetes or metabolic syndrome,” said Ann Quillen, executive director, JCFSHC. “Diabetes is a huge health concern in Ohio, as the Central Ohio Diabetes Association estimates that more than 897,000 Ohioans have the disease.”
The grant from HealthPath helped provide initial health screenings for patients, including blood glucose testing, blood pressure reading, HBA1C, lipid and triglyceride profiles, weight and abdominal girth measurements, and a quality of life assessment. Nurses and doctors have also been able to provide patients with an interdisciplinary care plan to include medication therapy management, patient education, obesity treatment, meal planning, foot and eye care, and follow-up appointments.
As a result of the program, lives have been saved, chronic conditions have been cared for, physical health and patients’ well-being have been improved, and, in many cases, a sense of hope has been restored to the patients of JCFSHC.
200 West Fourth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
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