The Enormous Task of Providing Care

Recently, the Star Tribune ran a series called “Aging Parents, Stressed Families,” that detailed the realities of friend and family caregivers; the frustration, the exhaustion, the personal cost, and ultimately the fact that most of us will at some point be in this position. The articles in the series also presented alarming statistics that clearly indicate the number of family members available to care for elderly parents is dwindling. Click HERE to read the full article “Invisible Workforce of Caregivers is Wearing Out” and all of the articles in the series.

Just over 75 percent of JFS clients are seniors, with a corresponding percentage of services aimed at this demographic. Common physical and mental health issues in this age group include Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, anxiety, and isolation. “We take a two-pronged approach to our senior programming,” said Chris Rosenthal, Director of Aging and Disability Services.”We offer programs for both the senior and their caregiver.”

The Senior Care Services program offers three unique sets of service on a sliding fee scale: care coordination, care planning, and caregiver coaching designed to support the dignity, independence, and safety of seniors and their caregivers. Senior Care Services are culturally-sensitive, and Russian-speaking coordinators are available.

Care Coordination

Care coordinators become the primary coordinators for the delivery of multiple services. Care coordination is tailored to the unique needs of the senior and may include:

  • assessing and evaluating their needs,
  • assisting in the development of a personalized plan of service,
  • coordinating and adjusting the delivery of that plan of service,
  • providing transportation to and advocacy at appointments with medical professionals,
  • providing a link to other JFS and community resources,
  • advocating and/or mediating with health care providers, HMOs, home care agencies and other services or entitlement programs,
  • assisting and guiding with problem solving such as assessing housing options and/or having conversations about a person’s ability to drive.

Care Planning

Care Planning helps families notice changes in parents and/or spouses. During a crisis or before one arises, care planning helps families articulate issues and challenges, learn about available resources, prioritize which issues need to be addressed first, determine a division of labor among family members and learn how to support each other, and create a plan for maximizing the independence of the senior.

Caregiver Coaching

If you have a loved one with a memory loss diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, caring for that person can seem like an overwhelming task. Caregiver coaching works with family members to guide them in making changes to improve everyday life at home; whether by promoting better self-care or by offering tips to deal with dementia-related behaviors. It also works directly with people in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease to plan for their own future.

An assessment will be conducted either in-home or at the JFS office and a comprehensive report and care plan developed. Behavior/communication analysis will help determine the optimal training to achieve the best possible outcome for the senior and the caregiver.

Contact Bonnie Jaffe at (651) 497-8248 or at to learn more about the Senior Care Services program.

Additional JFS Senior Services

The Star Tribune article also pointed to the confusion surrounding senior care-giving. There are many, many services available, but making your way through the maze of who offers what is daunting. Senior Care Services at JFS will help your find and maximize all of the local, state, and federal services that may benefit you and your senior.

But right here at JFS, several additional services can help ease the challenges. The Dementia Caregivers Support Group is free and meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Sholom.

Also available are a number of therapies for clients and caregivers under the Life Enrichment Action Program (LEAP). These therapies are available either free or on a sliding fee scale and include in-home art therapy for the senior and in-home counseling for the senior and/or the caregiver.

The Kosher Meals on Wheels program is also available to ensure seniors continue to eat well. The meals can be arranged by calling Mary Robinson, JFS Meals on Wheels Coordinator at (651) 278-8428 or

Our community chaplaincy program provides support to individuals in life transition or facing life challenges. Chaplain Rabbi Lynn Liberman and trained para-chaplain volunteers offer an attentive, listening presence to another person through spiritual care; they focus on offering care—rather than providing a cure. Their monthly visits are free. Contact Rabbi Lynn Liberman at (651) 434-4112) or by email at LLIBERMAN@JFSSP.ORG.