Two isolated groups join forces via caregiving

young old wheelchair

Photo: svklimkin/Morguefile

Those of us who have cared for our elders know how advanced age and health issues can lead to social isolation. On the younger end of the spectrum, those with learning disabilities can feel ostracized from their peers. An innovative program in New York brings these two groups together and has created a beautiful sense of purpose for all involved.

Daniel Reingold, the CEO of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, founded HOPE in 1995, originally as a way to fill job vacancies at the nursing home by employing those born to drug-addicted mothers, The Associated Press reported. HOPE stands for “Health Care Offers Permanent Employment.” Over the years, the program has evolved to include those with autism and intellectual disabilities.

The thread that binds these two seemingly disparate groups is caregiving. The youths assist nursing home residents with daily tasks, and the nursing home residents help the young carers with academic tasks like reading, by giving them real-world history lessons by sharing their life stories, and by being patient as the youths learn to perform caregiving tasks.

It’s a win-win situation. The kids can graduate and work at the nursing home if they choose, or explore other job opportunities. Nursing home residents are energized by the presence of young people, who are eager to show them what they can do on their smartphones and other gadgets.

The kids also learn important lessons on life and death that their peers might miss. Favorite residents die, and the students have to learn how to cope with the loss.

I love to see innovative solutions to social issues that often get ignored, and hope such success stories will inspire others to implement similar programs.


Filed under Awareness & Activism

4 responses to “Two isolated groups join forces via caregiving

  1. Hi Joy, it’s been a few years since we connected through my blog, My Neighbor Miss D. Your blog post caught my eye. The Hebrew Home was the special place taking Miss D into their nursing home dementia group as she was secretly being guarded by their elder abuse shelter. They are truly as special group, with innovative ideas for elder care. I enjoyed reading your post. Since my experience with Miss D, my husband and I have just ended our parent journey of caring for my mother-in-law the past 3 years. We lost her to dementia the other week and are now on our journey of healing and adjusting to life without caring for her. Thank you for your continued writing on caregiving since you lost your mother.

  2. Kudos for building these intergenerational relationships! We have a free tool that your caregivers may find helpful. it is a free app virtual social worker

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