Letter to the Editor: Atlanta Jewish Times

As I transition to CEO Emeritus of Jewish HomeLife April 1st, and full retirement December 31st, I have thought a lot about the changes I have seen in my 43-year career caring for older adults, and what I expect will occur in the near future.

When I began working in this field, there were very few options available for seniors– a nursing home was really the only choice for any frail older person needing care.

Today, there are many types of facilities available for individuals:  independent living;  assisted living; memory care; life care; rehab; hospice … to name a few.  There has also been tremendous growth in care provided at home, where most people want to remain for as long as possible.

The biggest obstacle to accessing these options is money – government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid do not cover many of them, and a high percentage of seniors have limited financial resources.  There are few facilities available for individuals with low or modest incomes.

The most difficult challenge facing organizations like Jewish HomeLife is recruiting and retaining employees.  The COVID pandemic caused many nurses and other health care professionals to leave the field.  There is also a significant shortage of workers in the country.  These two factors have brought the staffing shortage in senior care facilities and health care organizations in general, to a critical point.

My hope is that our community will continue to prioritize giving its support to Jewish HomeLife so it can hire the best people to provide quality care for our rapidly aging population. The commitment to honoring our mothers and fathers has been fundamental to our tradition since Sinai. I have been proud to be part of the Atlanta Jewish community’s fulfillment of this sacred task for the past eighteen years.  I leave this wonderful organization in a stronger place than when I began and in very capable and compassionate hands for the challenging future.