By Lisa Woolfson
The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, along with its agencies CHAI, CHANA and Jewish Community Services, is offering a new program called AgeWell Baltimore to connect seniors to needed resources so they can live at home and independently for longer.
“The Associated in general has always taken care [of community members] and care particularly for those in any case who can’t help themselves,” said Jeff Rosen, The Associated’s Caring and Community Relations Lead Team chair. “So where this fits in is it’s making sure that we’re serving our communities, and hopefully one outcome is we’re also serving others who may not have previously known what resources are available. So hopefully this does that in a more seamless way.”
According to Rosen, a member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, the program’s origins started at the former Caring Commission group at The Associated, which has since folded. The group realized that there were more older adults in the community who needed help finding resources to help them age well and independently. They learned about AgeWell Pittsburgh, which aggregates different resources seniors need. With one phone call, seniors or others calling on their behalf can locate those services. The program in Pittsburgh had been successful.
The next step for AgeWell Baltimore is to get financed.
Rebecca Brenner’s family donates to AgeWell. Brenner, who attends Beth Tfiloh Congregation, said her parents were looking to do something to help older adults.
“My parents were able to address their parents’ living issues as they aged and had resources to be able to do that privately,” Brenner said. “But [they knew] that not everybody has the financial resources or necessarily really knows what to do or how to access resources as they get older. So, they thought it was a great idea to basically make one phone call to The Associated system and be connected to a wide range of services.”
JCS and CHAI are in charge of responding to the calls that come into the AgeWell line.
Joan Grayson Cohen, the executive director of JCS, said that all calls come in to one number, and staff are specially trained to respond to calls and to quickly connect people to the right resources.
For now, she said, they will be using their current staff, and depending on the volume of calls that come into AgeWell, they may need to hire more people. If they do hire more staff members, they will also be specially trained to respond to these calls.
Cohen said the new program is one easy access point for everyone in the community.
“It’s a really wonderful community opportunity for those who are aging themselves, as well as for relatives who are caring for those aging,” Cohen said. “There’s such a wealth of resources in our community that are available, and this is really the best way to learn about how to engage in those resources.”
AgeWell can be reached by calling 410-500-5328 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Woolfson is a freelance writer.