If “information is power”, then Thursday December 8, 2011 was a very empowering evening. This was the occasion of the first ESRA Senior Dilemma Forum which took place in Raanana.
Attended by more than 100 people, the forum raised and discussed issues that many of us prefer not to think about until we are forced to - issues around aging, loss of independence, elderly or sick parents still living in the “home” country, and more.
Dealing with these situations is difficult both emotionally and practically, and for many English speakers the difficulties are compounded by lack of knowledge about the system in Israel and how it works.
The format of the evening made the sometimes distressing subject matter interesting and accessible to the audience. A panel of experts – Barbara Rabin, Director of Social Services, Meir Hospital, Adinah Hayun, Director of Counseling for the Elderly, Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute), Jerusalem, and Maurice Singer, Aliyah Consultant – discussed issues raised by four short movies after each had been shown to the audience.
Each movie, directed by ESRAvision Executive Producer Maddy Levine, told a personal story and illustrated a different aspect of the issues which can arise when family members need help in taking care of themselves.
How do you get enough points from Bituach Leumi to legally employ a caregiver? What can you do to help ensure that the caregiver is taking care of your loved one responsibly and lovingly? What are the legal issues when someone is rushed to hospital and is too sick to give consent for the operation he or she needs? What can you do when your elderly parent living abroad wants to make aliyah or alternatively, refuses to consider it?
All these issues and more were discussed by the panelists, both in response to the four movies and the questions from the audience.
As Maddy Levine, the driving force behind the Senior Dilemma project, pointed out in her introductory remarks, there was no way that the evening could be more than an introduction to the subject and an initial familiarization with the Israeli system. As such, however, it was an effective event in empowering English speakers to deal with very important issues.
Feedback forms completed by the audience were overwhelmingly favorable, and showed how helpful they had found the evening.
As a result of the feedback, another Senior Dilemma forum is being planned. This will focus on legal issues such as wills and guardianship/Power of Attorney.
All attendees were given a list of contacts with telephone numbers – a concrete outcome of a very informative evening.
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