Currently, I am facilitating 4 psycho-education groups for caregivers. Psycho-education is a multi-component intervention that incorporates social support, education, and therapy. Along with my psycho-education groups, I also make home visits with my caregivers to learn about the problems clients and caregivers face and to supervise. My goal is to improve the quality of care and the quality of life for Hesed clients and Hesed caregivers.
Hesed caregivers think of their clients as family. They provide a range of services. A couple of these services include cooking, cleaning, shopping for the client, helping the client with their hygiene and providing emotional support.
I have one group of caregivers that work with clients who have dementia. The other three groups work with homebound clients, whom have a range of problems. These problems include Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, paralysis, strokes, hip fractures, mental illness and dementia. Many of these clients also suffer from depression as a result of their illness (es) and isolation.
Homebound adults in Ukraine do NOT have the same medical care as American older adults. There is almost no physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy. This is an extreme hardship for individuals who suffer from the issues I mentioned above. A couple of my clients have broken their legs. Because of the lack of physical therapy, they are bedbound for 8 or 9 months, if not longer. They also do not have motorized scooters, which have helped my Bubby greatly. They also do not have many of the medicines and medical equipment that American seniors have.
While working with Hesed clients (most of whom are Nazi Victims) and their caregivers, I have learned a lot about their lives, their living conditions, their challenges and their triumphs. Mark and his son Victor are two of my Hesed clients. Victor is severely autistic and Mark had a stroke. As a result of the stroke, half his body is paralyzed. He has received no physical, occupational or speech therapy. Both father and son never leave the apartment. They have two caregivers, one of whom has been with the father and son for five years. The caregivers come 7 days a week for 5 to 7 hours a day.
Mark is a Nazi Victim who was evacuated to Kajistan during the war. He remembers almost dying of starvation and having frost bite on his feet. He tells me that he is still haunted by these experiences. Mark’s wife died 5 years ago. He now fears for his sons’ future.
Like Mark, many of my clients (since they are Nazi Victims) were evacuated to northern parts of the Soviet Union during Nazi Occupation. During this time, they endured starvation, freezing cold temperatures and harsh working conditions. Another common factor among my clients is their education and work ethic. Most of my clients received college degrees and worked for many years. They are very proud of their work ethic. Though they worked for so many years, their pensions are minute.