A golden era for seniors

Seniors today have a wealth of options during their golden years. Active seniors can participate in programs and exercise classes at the J, social gatherings and outings at their congregations, and the diverse cultural and outdoor pursuits that make Oregon a wonderful place to call home.

Last year two Jewish professionals pooled their contacts and resources to create a senior calendar of events around Portland. “Everything YAH: Everything for the Young At Heart,” listed Jewish community activities “for boomers +.” Though the YAH calendar only lasted a year, many of the programs Jennifer Greenberg and Laurie Fendel found continue to enrich the social and cultural landscape (see page 28).

For those who need help ranging from light housekeeping to skilled nursing care, there are just as many options; but connecting with the appropriate resource can be a challenge for seniors and their families.

Now Cedar Sinai Park, the place many in the Jewish community have long considered the hub for senior living in Portland, is developing a senior concierge service to link seniors and their families to the resources they need.

“Now people call the front desks,” says CSP CEO Sandra Simon, adding that many receptionists don’t know about the complexity of health care, social services and housing options available beyond their own institutions. “We are creating a one-stop shop.” While the concierge program is still in the early stages of development, she and JFCS Executive Director Carrie Hoops believe it will fill a niche. The senior concierge service is just one area CSP has worked on with Jewish Family & Child Service since the two agencies consolidated last summer.

“We believe the concierge service will fill a crucial need in our community,” says Carrie. “By being able to connect people to our existing community resources, we can help our rapidly aging population live healthy, happy lives as independently as they can for as long as they can and then help them gracefully through that final stage of life.”

Carrie shared the following description of what JFCS and CSP envision developing: “It can be overwhelming for seniors and their families to plan and navigate the services and supports that will enable healthy, safe and happy aging. JFCS and CSP have a vision for creating a senior concierge service, a ‘one-call information and referral service,’ to link the older population and their families to a wide variety of essential resources. Adult children living outside the area with aging parents here in the Portland area will find this service extremely valuable as they try to help their loved ones from afar.

“The concierge model will help callers navigate the family of services under the CSP umbrella, from independent living to skilled nursing and the social service supports that JFCS provides. The referral service will extend beyond the CSP family of resources to community supports and more home-based services.”

Sandra says they have already begun to build a database of “other organizations that provide the same kind of high-quality service we provide.”

Additionally, Sandra hopes the concierge service will connect more Jewish seniors with the four affordable housing buildings CSP owns downtown. She doesn’t think most Jewish seniors are aware of this option for those seeking subsidized housing. While there is about a six-month to one-year waiting list, CSP does have resources in place to support seniors while they wait for an opening at those buildings.

“Carrie and I knew it would take about a year for integration,” says Sandra. “We want to do it mindfully and thoughtfully so it’s a smooth transition.”

The two are also working to minimize duplication of services and to best use the resources of each partner.

“They are experts in counseling, we are experts in housing,” says Sandra. “Together the two provide better quality service to our community.”

For instance, as seniors age in place at Rose Schnitzer Manor, more of those who moved into independent living 15 years ago now need some support services. Since case management is the forte of JFCS, that agency is in the process of hiring a half-time clinical case manager who will be employed by JFCS but will have an office at RSM.

“The intention is to have a skilled on-site resource for residents and their families, which will help break down any barriers to care,” says Carrie. “To be situated in the actual environment that the seniors are living enables us to have a greater opportunity for impact.”

Formerly JFCS offered a Lifeline program, which included in-home services such as meal prep and light housekeeping for seniors. Now those services to help seniors remain independent have been moved to Sinai In-Home Care, which already offered in-home care for those with more intensive needs.

However, JFCS does still provide in-home care and socialization activities for Holocaust survivors.

“The cultural aspect of this grant-funded program is distinctive,” says Carrie. “Our bilingual case managers and homemakers serve over 100 Holocaust survivors (many who live below the poverty line). JFCS provides in-home support that allows the Holocaust survivors to age safely and independently.  We offer wraparound support such as emergency aid, case management, housekeeping, companionship, transportation and cooking. If the client needs personal care (medication dispensing, bathing, etc.), we refer that work to Sinai In-Home.”


Following is a sampling of some of the programs around town popular with seniors:
Nosh and Drash: Rabbi Eve Posen teaches this class once a month at Café at the J (MJCC) and at Courtyard Village retirement community. 503-246-8831

Tea at Two: Congregation Neveh Shalom brings in interesting topics and speakers each month. Upcoming programs include May 17: Disability Under the Social Security Act – From the Perspective of a Retired Federal Administrative Law Judge with Riley Atkins; and June 7: Jonathan Porath: All of Jewish History in One Hour. 503-246-8831

Alzheimer’s Association Caregivers Support Group: Open to the whole community, the support group provides emotional and educational support for caregivers and care partners of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. 6:30-8:30 pm at Congregation Beth Israel, Portland. 503-222-1069

The W Connection: This widows group provides peer-to-peer emotional support from women of all ages who understand what it means to lose a spouse. 1-2:30 pm at Congregation Beth Israel, Portland. 503-222-1069

Fitness and Aquatic Classes:  The MJCC offers numerous classes that are free with membership. The following are open to all but are geared toward seniors: Forever Fit, Tues/Thurs 10:45 am; Tai Chi for Falls Prevention, Tues/Thurs 12:30 pm; Gentle Pilates,  Mon/Wed 11 am; Gentle Yoga, Mon 4 pm and Tue/Thurs 9:30 am; Ai Chi (Warm Pool), Tues/Thurs 8:45 am; Arthritis Exercise (Warm Pool), Mon-Fri 10 am; and Dance for Parkinson’s Disease, most Wed, 1:30-2:30 pm. 503-244-0111

Cultural/Social Programs: The MJCC offers these groups that are popular with seniors: Knitting Together, Tues 1-2 pm at Cafe at the J; Hebrew for Lunch, Tues 12:15 pm at Cafe at the J (some conversational Hebrew required); and Mah Jongg, Sun noon at Café at the J. 503-244-0111


he following CSP entities provide housing or services for seniors (CSP also serves those with special needs):

Robison Jewish Health Center: Senior living offering rehabilitation, nursing care and memory support. 503-535-4300

Rose Schnitzer Manor: Independent and assisted living senior apartments. 503-535-4000

Adult Day Services: Daytime social, recreational and support program for seniors. 503-535-4403

Jewish Family & Child Service: Social services for adults, families and children. 503-226-7079

Sinai In-Home Care: In-home care from housekeeping to bed-bound care. 503-542-0088

Affordable Housing: Four affordable-housing apartment buildings for seniors in downtown Portland. cedarsinaipark.org/living-care-options/affordable-housing

Housing with Services: Provides support services for those in CSP affordable housing.

Coming Soon:

Harold Schnitzer Health and Rehabilitation Care Center: The first of four new 12-bedroom households built on the Green House Model opens this summer.

Senior Concierge Service: A one-call information and referral service to link seniors and their families to essential resources (under development).


Jewish Family Services of the Jewish Federation of Lane County: For information on available services, call Oriana Kahn-Hurwit at 541-484-2541.

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