Fall River Jewish Home

The Jewish Perspective on Aging

In today’s social and economic climate, older adults and adults living with a disability may be feeling less than valued. The media inundates us daily with signals that anyone over 40 is no longer vital or beautiful. Our political leaders debate how to cut the costs of Medicare and Medicaid, sending out an unspoken message to both groups who receive those benefits that they are an expense to be managed.  We thought it was a good time to remind our readers about the Jewish perspective on aging.

The term “zakein” is a contraction for “zeh kanah chachma” which translates to “one who has acquired wisdom.” Seniors are among those who the Torah mandates Jews to care for: those who are most vulnerable.

How can we help to care for the older adults in our communities?

  1. Help an elderly neighbor this winter. According the NCOA, an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall-related injury every 15 seconds. Keep an eye out for the elderly in your neighborhood during the icy, snowy days of a Massachusetts winter. Help them by shoveling their sidewalks or bringing their mail in.
  2. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels programs. For many older adults, these programs are what allow them to maintain their independence in their own home. Even two or three hours a month can make a difference.
  3. Teach your children to respect their elders. Leviticus 19:32 states, “Mipnei Seiva takum y’hadarta pnei zakein/Rise in the presence of an older person and honor the presence of an elder.” Unfortunately, a respect for elders is often lacking among today’s youth. Teach your children to stand up and offer their seat to an elder, to address them as Mr. or Mrs. and to help them in little ways. That can include holding a door open for them or carrying their groceries.
  4. Slow down and be patient. As we age, it sometimes takes longer to convey a thought or to make it across the crosswalk. Show elders respect by demonstrating patience and slowing down to their speed.
  5. Ask them about their life. With age comes experience, wisdom and many life lessons. Take time to get to know the older adults around you. They can be a great source of advice and wisdom.

How else can you demonstrate respect to elders?

We’re here to answer questions and help you make the best decision for care for you or your loved one. We invite you to reach out and talk with one of our care specialists at Fall River Jewish Home today! CALL 1.508.679.6172, where assistance is just a phone call away.

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