Photo Credit: Jewish Press

I recently read an emotionally charged article by a 90-year-old-woman who has been isolated with her daughter and son-in-law during this pandemic. She began her article by stating that just because she is 90, she is not disposable.

The first sentence stopped me right in my tracks. How often do we read about 90-year-olds and think, “Such a sad story, but at least she had a long life.” And it is true that someone in her 20s has much more life to live than someone in her 90s, but just the same, it’s doesn’t mean there isn’t more for that 90-year-old to contribute to the world.

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As a global crisis forces us to reevaluate our ethos and values, perhaps this is the time to focus on our elderly, especially because they are most at risk and must remain home longer than others. How can we ensure that we honor and support them?

Take stock of your elderly family and neighbors. Think about who your elderly family members and neighbors are – and what their needs are. Perhaps your neighbor could use a home-cooked meal once a week. Or your parent or grandparent could use a daily phone call. Maybe a visit from the backyard through the window. Perhaps a handwritten letter through the mail slot.

Navigate technology. Some 90 year olds know how to use a computer better than I do! But for those who don’t, helping them navigate technology will allow them access to a world that they would otherwise be cut off from.

Facilitate religious practice. For many elderly people, religious practice creates routine and provides meaning. Without minyanim and other communal activities, these elderly might feel lost. Find other ways of incorporating religious practice into their lives, even if they are stuck at home.

No one is disposable – even in a pandemic – and least of all those who have accumulated the wisdom of many decades!

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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.