Supporting Older People
We support older Jewish people living in poverty in eastern Europe.
Through our network of trusted local partners, we meet practical needs with food, medicine, health care, home care and home repairs. We meet emotional needs by combatting loneliness, creating community networks and promoting active ageing. Our pioneering dementia care programme is transforming the lives of people living with dementia and their families. We work primarily in Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus and Moldova.
Once accomplished doctors, teachers, physicists and scientists, many of the older people we support lost their life savings when communism collapsed. They now live hand-to-mouth, ekeing out meagre pensions that can be as low as £50 a month and having to routinely choose between eating, heating or medicine.
With state health and social care options virtually non-existent, many older people live in fear of needing medical treatment and increasingly self isolate in order to minimse risk of illness and injury.
We focus on supporting people who are the most vulnerable; people living alone with little or no family support and people living with chronic health problems, a disability or dementia. Partnering with local Jewish community and welfare centres called Heseds, we assess individuals’ needs and provide holistic support.
Food, medicine and winter relief
For older people struggling to make ends meet, we provide pre-loaded bank cards to contribute to the cost of food and medicine. These can be redeemed at specialist supermarkets and pharmacies. In addition, we supply hot meals and/or food packages as well as fuel, blankets and clothing during winter.
People with impaired vision, hearing and mobility can end up housebound; yet, the right resources can mitigate these impairments and give people back their independence. We fund glasses, hearing aids, cataract operations and mobility equipment such as walking sticks, wheelchairs or walking frames. We also provide blood pressure monitors, glucometers and diabetes test-strips, giving older people the ability to monitor their own health conditions and avoid potentially grave consequences.
Dementia Care and Dementia Care Training
With dementia still a relatively unknown and poorly understood condition in the countries we work in, our team has drawn on expertise from Jewish Care to lead a pioneering dementia awareness and dementia care training programme. This ground-breaking work has reached beyond the Jewish community and attracted participants across health and social care sectors.
In Belarus our approach has been incorporated into government policies. In Kyiv, our staff have been invited to educate university students studying to be social workers. In Moldova our project was featured in local media.
We have trained over a thousand care workers and medical professionals, as well as numerous family carers, helping them to take a person-centered approach to dementia care, leading to vast improvements in quality of life and helping to reduce burnout among family carers.
We run dementia day care services in Ukraine (Kyiv and Kharkiv), Chisinau in Moldova and Minsk in Belarus, and arrange support groups for relatives and respite for family members.
We work to ensure older people with mobility issues can live in dignity, in their own homes, for as long as possible. Our army of trained home care workers cook, clean, shop and provide personal care. They also give much needed companionship to isolated older people.
Reading Jeffrey Archer novels is one of the ways former English teacher Lyubov retains her language skills. A fiercely independent woman, Lyubov was rendered helpless when rheumatoid arthritis set in leaving her unable to walk. Her apartment is up several flights of stairs and her door frames are too narrow for a wheelchair, making her a virtual prisoner in her own home. Lyubov desperately needed care but had no one to turn to.
Thanks to your generosity, we can send a homecare worker to look after Lyubov, ensuring she is given the vital care she needs, as well providing much needed companionship.
Watch Lyubov's story to find out what homecare means to her:
Homecare workers are a lifeline to people like Lyubov. Read about how you can sponsor a homecare worker for as little as £3 a month.
Active Ageing and Combatting Loneliness
By staying active and engaged, older people have a better chance of living independently for longer. We fund exercise classes and other activities to bring the community together, often with a Jewish focus. For more isolated people, who can suffer from loneliness, we arrange local ‘Warm Home’ gatherings to encourage socialisation. Transport is provided to people with mobility issues, including a helping hand from a friendly driver. If leaving the house is impossible, we fund befrienders to make regular visits. These include our trained staff, as well as volunteers.
Whilst many older people in the former Soviet Union were given their own apartments during the communist regime, they have now been neglected for decades, resulting in dangerous and dilapidated living conditions. Many older people are now trapped in their homes that are barely habitable.
The most common problems with these homes are a lack of hot or running water, leaking roofs, broken and ill-fitting windows, uneven floors and collapsing ceilings.
All of this is compounded by the tiny pensions many of these older Jewish people have to try and live on – they are never able to afford vital repairs themselves.
We repair homes to make living conditions safe and to enable vulnerable older people to live in warmth and dignity. We help insulate homes against the cold, provide running water, replace windows, repair floors and redecorate, making these apartments safe and happy places to live.
‘Now we have started a new life. Everything is convenient and there is no reason for irritation and bad mood. Peace, goodwill and good moods reigned again’Leonid and Olga, Kharkiv, Ukraine