July / August 2013

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Letter from the President

When IOA was established more than 30 years ago, few could have envisioned that the modest nonprofit that arose from the pioneering principles of Mount Zion Hospital visionaries would one day grow into one of Northern California's largest providers of community-based services. Read More

Getting Help and Giving Hope

Mrs. Caldwell lived in New York most of her life. She married in her teens, had five children, and was widowed. When one of her daughters, Sophia, who lived in San Francisco, had a baby, Mrs. Caldwell was thrilled to take on a grandmother's role. She moved to California, but once her grandchild was in school, she found herself at loose ends..
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Taking Time to Unplug and Connect Face to Face

In a world filled with the clamor of cellphones and social media, and rising concerns about the fact that our privacy can so easily be invaded by the click of a mouse, it’s an ironic fact that growing numbers of us feel increasingly isolated and alone. Nearly one out of every five adults in San Francisco lives alone, and that number only increases with age. In fact, one-third of all people in the Bay Area over the age of 65 live alone. In some respects this statistic isn’t surprising; after all, many seniors live far from extended families back East or overseas. Read More

At Home with Meryl Brod

Perfectly ripe artichokes, juicy blueberries, figs, and pears are just a handful of the fruits and vegetables that can be found in Dr. Meryl Brod's garden. A Board Member since 2005, Meryl's passion for growing her own fruits and vegetables is matched only by her passionate involvement in geriatric and health outcomes research. Meryl is the Founding Director of The Nerken Center for Geriatric Research in New York, and the Founding Director of the Center for Clinical and Aging Services Research, a collaboration between UCSF and IOA.
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Letter from the PresidentTom B

When IOA was established more than 30 years ago, few could have envisioned that the modest nonprofit that arose from the pioneering principles of Mount Zion Hospital visionaries would one day grow into one of Northern California's largest providers of community-based services. Ever since, IOA has dynamically forged connections between diverse groups of health care professionals, supporters, volunteers and community members who work together to ensure that Bay Area seniors age with dignity.

IOA continues to lead the way by launching exciting initiatives that range from creating a new consumer-friendly, easy to navigate website this past June, to expanding Home Care support services to San Francisco to meet the growing demands of the city's aging population. The launch of IOA Connect, a single point of contact for information, referrals, and assistance with service navigation, has enabled older adults and their families to more readily find the help they need. We are also very excited to announce the newest community partner of IOA's Senior Campus, UCSF Center for Geriatric Care.

During this exciting period of growth and expansion, our bimonthly e-newsletter, Connections, will keep you and other members of the community up-to-date. The newsletter will serve as a valuable resource on aging, IOA programs, and the people we serve. Because at the end of the day, it's the people and our connections to one another that truly matter.

Getting Help and Giving Hopewoman on couch

Mrs. Caldwell lived in New York most of her life. She married in her teens, had five children, and was widowed. When one of her daughters, Sophia, who lived in San Francisco, had a baby, Mrs. Caldwell was thrilled to take on a grandmother's role. She moved to California, but once her grandchild was in school, she found herself at loose ends.

Things began to deteriorate as Mrs. Caldwell, now in her late 70s, became frail and then gradually showed signs of early dementia. The family lived in uncomfortably close quarters; and Sophia found herself in the difficult position of caregiver to a mother whose behavior and symptoms she didn't understand. She became increasingly stressed while Mrs. Caldwell was clearly in need of more attention than her daughter was capable of giving.

Fortunately, Jenny, a perceptive and resourceful IOA social worker, was called into the case. Her first thought was to begin the laborious process of applying for better housing: she helped the two women fill out the lengthy and tedious forms. Meanwhile, she obtained a hospital bed for Mrs. Caldwell and spoke to her physicians on her behalf. For Sophia, Jenny provided printed information about Alzheimer's and was also helpful in offering suggestions when small crises arose---for instance, when Mrs. Caldwell refused to take a bath, Sophia would panic and call Jenny for advice.

It was a great day for everyone when one of the many applications for affordable housing came up in the lottery. Mrs. Caldwell and Sophia were offered a one-bedroom apartment in a beautiful new building in the Mission. Today, Jenny only needs to visit quarterly; when she does, she is delighted to see mother and daughter living peacefully, as Sophia receives the support she needs to keep her mother at home.

Taking Time to Unplug and Connect Face to FaceElaine Roberta Caroline

In a world filled with the clamor of cellphones and social media, and rising concerns about the fact that our privacy can so easily be invaded by the click of a mouse, it’s an ironic fact that growing numbers of us feel increasingly isolated and alone. Nearly one out of every five adults in San Francisco lives alone, and that number only increases with age. In fact, one-third of all people in the Bay Area over the age of 65 live alone. In some respects this statistic isn’t surprising; after all, many seniors live far from extended families back East or overseas.

However, a recent study indicates that 10% of local seniors living by themselves spend an hour or less each week socializing with friends or family members. Social circles can dramatically shrink as we age due to relocation, the death of peers, decreasing physical mobility, and the loss of driving privileges. This lack of face-to-face interaction can lead to a profound sense of loneliness and isolation.

After all, connections are most profoundly experienced when we can observe body language and literally see the impact our words have on others. Of course, technology isn’t all bad; it can be a true lifeline to home bound seniors living alone. Take as an example the success of IOA’s Friendship Line, a 24/7 telephone support line that touches thousands of individuals each year. However, while the phone, computers, and technology in general, certainly help diminish social isolation, there is no substitute for real-time, person-to-person social contact when it comes to actively engaging in life.

Our continuing challenge is to bring people together in shared physical space, so that spontaneous learning, laughter, and educational opportunities abound throughout life.

At Home with Meryl BrodMeryl-B-200x200.jpg

Perfectly ripe artichokes, juicy blueberries, figs, and pears are just a handful of the fruits and vegetables that can be found in Dr. Meryl Brod's garden. A Board Member since 2005, Meryl's passion for growing her own fruits and vegetables is matched only by her passionate involvement in geriatric and health outcomes research. Meryl is the Founding Director of The Nerken Center for Geriatric Research in New York, and the Founding Director of the Center for Clinical and Aging Services Research, a collaboration between UCSF and IOA.

Prior to becoming a Board Member, Meryl's work at IOA involved examining geriatric issues through a community-based approach, allowing for more patient-centered research. Her work focused on questions surrounding nursing home health outcomes, efficacy of psychosocial support, benefits of adult day health care, and the impact of drugs in elderly populations. Following her career with the IOA, Meryl founded The Brod Group, which works with the FDA to measure such health outcomes as quality of life, patient satisfaction, and work/life productivity.

In keeping with her busy lifestyle, Meryl also started Health Corner at Menorah Park, one of the first Bay Area organizations to promote the idea of 'Aging in Place'—a key premise that underpinned the founding of IOA and remains the cornerstone of our mission: assisting seniors to remain independent and connected to their communities.

Outside of work, Meryl relishes her time spent at home, working in her garden, entertaining family and friends with her partner Len. As she notes, "Houses become homes when they're filled with the people you love." Meryl is candid when it comes to admitting that her biggest challenge is "keeping balance in my life. I know it's critical but I'm not very good at making room for down-time."

When asked about her involvement with IOA, Meryl responds, ”I know first-hand the quality of the staff and services at IOA and it's an institution I'm proud to support…IOA does some of the most important work with some of the most vulnerable members of our community, a key quality on which a society should be judged.” Serving as both a Board Member and longtime supporter of the IOA, Meryl remains committed to the IOA community, insisting “This is one way in which I follow the Jewish tradition of giving back and caring for my community."