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February 10, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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February 10, 2017

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 10, 2017 Experiencing a 'virtual tidbit' of dementia or walking a mile in ill-fitting shoes... By Pamela Ruben My feet are absolutely killing me, and it's not from the 10,000 steps I have been walking daily to kick the New Year off on the right foot. The spring in my step has been hampered by the plastic-spiked gel inserts that have been stuffed into my shoes (voluntarily) dur- ing a "Virtual Dementia Tour" hosted by Watercrest Senior Living Community. Our tour was designed to enhance empathy and under- standing for those who are suffering from memory loss or a dementia-related illness. I literally learned how "out of step" one can feel when the mind and body are out of sync. Ann SanCartier, com- munity relations director at the Lake Nona campus, which specializes in both Assisted Living and Memory Care, suggested I walk 1/10 of mile in the shoes of the aged, and help expand the program's reach by sharing it with readers. Following a warm welcome and a tour of the state-of-the-art facility, she stressed, the "resident-specific care" of each Watercrest resident as the community's primary focus, with every caregiver a Certified Dementia Prac- titioner. As the tour began, Brittney Winston of Senior Helpers, sponsor of the event along with Compass Research, loaded me (and the partici- pants) with age-simulation gear. We were given special glasses, mimicking blurred eyesight and a limited field of vision from cataracts/glau- coma/degeneration. Bulky gloves modeled neuropathy, arthritis, and movement related ailments. After pass- ing out thick headphones, creating hearing impair- ment and sound distortion, we were given a list of tasks to complete inside a model apartment. I entered a room, which had just a small amount of ambient lighting, trying to concentrate on the two tasks I was able to understand. Unfortunately, the other tasks I had been assigned had been absorbed into my clunky headset, which every so often made me spasm from ear-splitting sounds. Sheena Jeffries, Watercrest's Memory Care director, sat at an out of the way table to make sure we remained safe. She appeared merely as an outline of a person through the distortion of my lens (Later, I was introduced to her warm presence and explosive smile). Still, it was comforting to know that we were not in this all alone. I completed my two tasks, badly. I asked the attendant if she could help with the rest. Of course I couldn't hear her reply, but she handed me a list, which appeared to be a random array of letters (mimicking word processing challenges). As I ambled to the window to get more reading light, seemingly out of nowhere, an ambulance siren whipped through my ears. I regained my composure and decoded a job or two. Alas time was up, and the mystery tasks went uncompleted. Following the virtual tour (created by Second Wind Dreams), Winston debriefed us. She is quite the "senior helper" and brought us comfort as she broke down our encounter in the "Land of the Lost." We shared our collective experiences. Words like "confused" and "overwhelmed" abounded. Simple, everyday tasks be- came nearly impossible with limited vision, hampered movement and interrupted thoughts. Just like residents with memory care issues, each participant experienced a challenge (or symptom) more than the others. For me, it was the chronic foot pain. The gel inserts felt almost like tacks stab- bing at my feet (simulating neuropathy, bunions, and chronic pain). SanCartier hardly noticed the foot dis- comfort. For her, the greatest challenge was the noise that rang out at random times (representing impaired sen- sory processing). Sheena Jeffries positively concluded that it was the goal of the exercise to allow family members to better understand what this "new version of mom or dad" was going through. Perhaps, by stepping into their shoes we could "learn to listen between the lines, and ap- preciate the moment." When I was back in my comfortable shoes, I thought back to a chat I had earlier that day with a resident in his late 80s. I mentioned my new walking routine to "Bob," my seat mate in the waiting area. He commented his wife walked 15-to-20,000 steps a day and was sharp as a tack. Tomorrow, I plan on appreciating the moment, renewing that spring in my step, and upping my step count. If you are interested in a "Virtual Dementia Tour," contact Watercrest Living at 407-226-3113 or visit www.watercrestse- To find out Shown here (l-r): Brittney Winston of Senior Helpers, Pam Ruben from The Jewish Pavilion, and Ann SanCartier from Watercrest Senior Living at a debriefing following a 'Virtual Dementia Tour.' more about Senior Helpers, orlando. Tidbits from the Sand- wich Generation is a series of blogs by Pamela Ruben, Jewish Pavilion Marketing and Communications Di- rector, about managing the multi-generations. If you are sandwiched in between raising a family of children or young adults, and car- ing for aging parents, take a bite out of life with this new blog! Just a 'tidbit' is recommended for anyone who spends time with older adults, or is preparing for life's next stages. Laugh, cry, and relate as our blogger is pulled from all sides by fam- ily members young and old. Check out additional posts at blog. For no cost help for issues pertaining to older adults contact the Orlando Senior Help Desk, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, at 407-678-9363 or visit www.orlandose- PRESENTS By Richard H. Schwartz Some of my most impor- tant lessons in life I learned from Jewish verses about trees. From the following I learned that I should be an environmental activist, working to help preserve the world: In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He, created the first person, He showed him the trees in the Garden of Eden, and said to him: "See My works, how fine they are; Now all that I have created, I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do not corrupt and destroy My world, For if you destroy it, there is no one to restore it after you. (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28) From the following and the rabbinic commentaries on it I learned that I should avoid destruction and should conserve resources: When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shallnot destroy (lo tashchit) the trees thereof by wielding an ax against them; for you may eat of them, but you must not cut them down; for is the tree of the fieM a man, that it shouM be besieged by you? Only the trees of which you know that they are not trees for food, them you may destroy and cut down, that you may build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until it fall. (Deuteronomy 20:19, 20) The following helped con- vince me that I should be a vegan: And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed- yielding fruit--to you it shall be for food." (Genesis 1:29) From the following I learned that as a Jew I should strive to serve as a positive example: And they came to Elim, where were 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees; and they encamped here by the waters. (Deuteronomy 15:27) Rabeynu Bachya saw a deep message. He stated that the 12 springs represent the 12 tribes and the 70 palm trees represent the 70 then nations of the world. He stated that just as the 12 springs nour- ish the 70 palm trees, the 12 tribes (the Jewish people) should serve to "nourish" the world by serving as a good example. From the following I learned to consider the con- sequences of my actions on future generations: While the sage Choni was walking along a road, he saw an old man planting a carob tree. Choni asked him: "How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?" "Seventy years," replied the man. Choni then asked: "Are you so healthy a man that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?" The man an- swered: "I found a fruitful world because my ancestors planted it for me. Likewise, I am planting formy children." (Ta'anis 23b) From the following I learned how important it is to be involved in the natural world: In order to serve God, one needs access to the enjoy- ment of the beauties of na- ture: meadows full of flowers, majestic mountains, flowing rivers. For all these are essen- tial to the spiritual develop- ment of even the holiest of people. (Rabbi Abraham ben Maimonides, cited by Rabbi David E. Stein in A Garden of Choice Fruits, Shomrei Adamah, 1991). From the following I learned the importance of acting on my knowledge and beliefs: Whoever has more wisdom than deeds is like a tree with many branches but few roots, and the wind shall tear him from the ground... Whoever has more deeds than wisdom is like a tree with more roots than branches, and no hur- ricane will uproot him from the spot. (Pirke Avot 3:17) From the following I learned the importance of working for a more peaceful world: And He shall judge be- tween many peoples, and shall decide concerning mighty nations afar off," and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord ofhosts has spoken. (Micah 4:3-5) Last but far from least, from the following I learned how the Torah is a guide to a happy, productive, and fulfilling life: [The Torah is] a tree of life to those who hold fast to it, and all who cling to it find happiness. Its ways are ways ofpleasantness, and all its paths are peace. (Proverbs 3: 17-18)