Recently, Jewish Sacred Aging, along with several other groups, co-sponsored a half day education day for clergy on Alzheimer’s disease. The local Alzheimer’s Association developed a Jewish Advisory Group to help get the word out regarding the disease and resources. The goal was to begin the process of educating clergy on resources so that they will be better prepared in counseling congregants and fellow Jews. We spent from 9-12.30 working through many of the issues, from the psychological to the financial. A keynote by our colleague Rabbi Dayle Friedman was followed by a recitation from the Alzheimer’s Association of the wide variety of resources that are available to clergy. A panel, moderated by public radio’s Dr Dan Gottlieb, walked through a variety of issues associated with the disease, all of which eventually returned to the challenges of being a care-giver.
I mention this program because it is a valuable idea that can be replicated in many cities. Indeed, linking local Boards of Rabbis and local Alzheimer’s Associations is a great match. There is still much fear and ignorance about the disease, but the fact remains that despite millions for research, it remains a disease with no cure. The stress and strain on the care-giver is enormous (and known I am sure, to many reading this) and the financial implications of care continue to rise. We are told by the Association that the current 5 million people diagnosed with the disease will grow to over 15 million as Boomers age out. And, we are told, that there are not enough trained care-givers and geriatric workers to handle this growth, which will put increasing strain on families and agencies like a synagogue.
We hope to print one or two fo the presentations here on the home page of the web site. If you are in a position to work with your organization and/or congregation to develop a relationship with the local Alzheimer’s Association, it behooves you to do this. Increasing numbers of people are being impacted and, as many of you know, this is a real family systems issue.
Rabbi Richard Address