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by Ilene Rinn
My Jewish grandmother lived to be over 100. Until she was 98, she lived alone in an apartment in West Palm Beach, FL. Eventually, a troupe of lovely caregivers moved in to provide her with around-the-clock care. She rarely visited the doctor and never spent a night in a hospital. Some would call this remarkable; and by this definition, perhaps she was, but she could also be defined as independent. Despite aging in place, she was lonely, isolated, and relied on good books and visits and phone calls from family and friends to fill her days.
Her southern bones would have been shocked by the cold, but I’d like to think if she lived in Pittsburgh and had access to the services that our seniors have through AgeWell Pittsbugh, the quality of her life during those last few years would have vastly improved. The three agencies under the AgeWell Pittsburgh umbrella (Jewish Association on Aging, Jewish Community Center, and Jewish Family & Children’s Service), provide a wide spectrum of services that addresses any and all of the needs of our senior population. And doesn’t just serve them, but serves them well.
I believe that one of the ways to measure the strength of a community is to address its elders and assess how well they are being taken care of. After all, many of them built our foundation. Measuring vulnerable populations and how they’re accommodated, including seniors, is one of the cornerstones of the Community Scorecard. Seventy seven percent of Scorecard respondents feel that Pittsburgh is a good place for aging Jewish parents, and 16% have sought out assistance from an agency to get help for an older relative who lives in, or outside of the region. More than7,300 seniors reported in 2012 that they utilized aging services of the Jewish community – that’s 77% of Jewish seniors (based on the 2002 estimate of 9,400 Jewish seniors living in Pittsburgh).
These numbers affirm that the traditional Jewish value derived from mipnei seiva takum (stand before the learned and the aged) is alive and well in Pittsburgh; through excellent service by our agencies, volunteer opportunities for seniors, and general engagement in community life. Baby boomers made up the largest number of survey respondents and as they age and retire, they should feel comfortable about the direction senior services are heading in Pittsburgh.
If my grandmother was here today, I know she would have enjoyed and benefited from AgeWell Pittsburgh. She would have loved the daily hot, kosher lunches and socializing that takes place at the JCC, and the freedom that AgeWell Rides could have provided her to get to physical therapy sessions at the JAA. Her days would be filled with comforting friends, warm professional staff, and a community that cared about her health, wellness, and quality of life.
Ilene Rinn is the Senior Manager of Planning and Allocations at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Her portfolio focuses on the Human Needs beneficiary agencies – Jewish Association on Aging, Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Jewish Residential Services, and Riverview Towers. She is a native New Yorker and has lived in Pittsburgh for a year and half and is constantly amazed by this community and its members.
If you want to cut right to the chase and see the most current available data, click Our Performance. You'll find tables and graphs to help you learn more about the Jewish community in Pittsburgh.
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The Scorecard is a tool to focus the resources and energy of the organized Jewish community on actions that can help Pittsburgh become a more thriving, vibrant, and engaged Jewish community.
The mission of the Community Scorecard is to make community performance more visible to the general Jewish public in Pittsburgh and to provide information that will help improve communal decision making.