Talia is 60 years old. She resides in Mevaseret, where she was born and raised and where her parents met and got married. Her two children also live there along with their spouses and children, Talia’s grandchildren, and they come to visit all the time. Talia feels fortunate that her family is continuing their legacy by living in Mevaseret and feels as if she is reaping the fruits of her parents’ labor.
As soon as Ten Kavod was established Talia joined the program eagerly. She was originally assigned to visit a senior citizen named Parcha. Upon their first visit together, Talia found her apartment dangerous due to large cracks in the walls. Ever since Talia reported the endangered building, Parcha has been living in a senior’s residence until the renovations are complete and she can move back in to her home. When she recognized the danger and reported the dangerous structural problems, Talia saved Parcha’s life and the lives of the other residents of the building, all thanks to paying a visit to Parcha as part of the Ten Kavod program. As Parcha is in a senior’s residence that has care and social interaction with the other residents, Talia has been in touch via regular telephone conversations.
In addition to keeping in touch with Parcha, Talia has been visiting a woman named Nadia. In addition to seeing her every day in the Elderly Day Center where Talia works, Talia visits Nadia afterwards at least once a week.
Nadia suffers from dementia which has damaged her short term memory. Talia explained the severity of the disease and its effect on Nadia. “Some days Nadia may arrive at the center wearing the same clothes as the day before, or think that she brushed her teeth and showered, when in reality she hasn’t done either. I constantly send her texts to remind her of simple daily chores to complete.”
“It’s sad,” Talia explained, “because Nadia doesn’t remember our visits together. She recognizes who I am, but not what we did the day before, or what we spoke about with each other. Towards the end of our meetings, we usually end up in the same calming atmosphere, relaxing on the porch with a smoke or a cup of coffee. I listen as Nadia relays the stories from her childhood that she’s told me over and over again. I listen to them each time anew and enjoy hearing her memories as if it was my first time. I would never break the news to her that she has told them to me before.”
“All of our meetings are usually the same. If there are dishes in the sink, I’ll clean them quickly. Then I make Nadia some lunch, and we sit on the porch with a cigarette and talk. However, one special time Nadia brought me into one of the rooms in the back of her house where she had conducted her cosmetic business. It’s exactly as it had looked. It’s sad to see all the diplomas and certificates on the walls and the nail polish untouched. I know how beautiful she is and how she used to keep herself so beautiful with her makeup and hair always done up perfectly and her nails polished. I always ask her if she would like me to help her and make her up as she used to, but she consistently refuses and says she’ll do it herself. She never does, though, and I know it’s because she can’t remember how. When she brought me into that room, I felt so happy and close to her because it felt like her personal ‘Holy of Holies’. And I was fortunate enough to gain her trust, and she brought me inside to see.”
Talia continued, “Another time, I found a bowl of Kibbeh filling in Nadia’s fridge. When I asked her what it was, she said she had made it a few days before and forgot about it. We spent the rest of the day making the crispy meatballs together. I like to give Nadia brain exercises to keep her mind awake and thinking because it’s important and healthy for her. So instead of showing her how, I challenged Nadia to remember and teach me the process of filling and cooking the dish.”
There was one incident where Talia had used her medical training and intuition to save Nadia’s life. That day helped her realize, even more so, how important Ten Kavod is for the safety of the senior citizens in our communities. “When I picked Nadia up in the morning on the private van to go to the Day Center, I noticed that Nadia was breathing weirdly. And throughout the day, whenever I would check up on her, her breathing still hadn’t improved. Because I am a volunteer EMT for United Hatzalah, I realized that something was wrong, where anyone else may have overlooked it. I texted her niece that she should bring Nadia to the hospital as soon as we dropped her off at home.”
“Later, the doctors in the hospital confirmed my suspicions and said that Nadia would not have survived had they brought her to the hospital when they did. They performed a minor operation to implant a pacemaker and kept her in the hospital for two weeks afterwards to recover.”
‘I get chills and goosebumps on my body as I retell this story. This incident made me realize how much I cared for Nadia. Thank G-d she is doing well now, as if nothing has changed.”
“My visits with Nadia, my conversations on the phone with Parcha, and working with the seniors in the Day Care Center elevate me to where I feel the happiest. I feel so good because I know that what I’m doing is good. I love my job so much. I’m fortunate enough to wake up each morning excited to go to work and excited to see the senior citizens. As much as the help and company I offer them helps them, it helps me even more, makes me happy, and encourages me to continue.”
“Ten Kavod is so important and such a blessed program. It should have been started a long time ago. An elderly person can be on the floor of their apartment for days, or even weeks, without anyone knowing about it and without anyone coming to help. Sometimes scenarios like this can end in death, which is so heartbreaking. We need more people to join even if they’re only willing to have a short phone call with a senior citizen to check up on them and see that they’re doing OK. Even that is helpful and important.”
“However, I always say that if you’re not willing to do it with all of your heart, then don’t do it at all. It is not worth it. I love what I do and I do it with all of my heart. I do everything with a smile, a hug, and with lots of love. I love the senior citizens, and I think they deserve the world. They deserve someone to sit with them patiently and give them a chance to speak their mind.”
Nadia is 72-years-old. She has never married and lives by herself in Mevaseret. She has a sister and two brothers who live close by and visit every chance they get. Nadia also has a niece who lives in the same building and often comes over. Nadia worked in bookkeeping for around 30 years until retiring at the age of 60. Afterwards, Nadia went back to school to learn cosmetology and ran a cosmetic business from her home.
“Talia is so lovely. She cares for all of us at the Day Center and is so good to us. We all feel the compassion that she has towards us. She comes to visit me all the time and cares for me wholeheartedly. I have no more words to express how wonderful of a person she is. I wish Talia only good things.”
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