All in the family?
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All in the family?

Abe Davis, director of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of North Jersey, says that while JFS offers seniors many of the same services provided by Fine’s company and that — as a major beneficiary agency of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey — JFS doesn’t ask potential clients about income, he nevertheless believes that there is a niche for this kind of private business.

"It’s a mindset," he says, noting that seniors who are better off financially may be more comfortable seeing such help as a paid service, just as they pay for other services such as transportation.

"There’s a ‘mixed bag’ of elderly," says Davis, pointing out that the fastest growing segment of this population includes people "80 to 85 plus."

"Will they hire a private agency? It depends. Do they have family nearby? Is the level of care required likely to produce family stress?" Davis agrees with Fine that some elderly parents may not want to bother their families. Or their children may live too far away, may be working while raising their own children, or may be put off by parents who are difficult to deal with.

"It’s a transaction," says Davis. "If people are well off and have no family nearby, this may be a good solution. It [probably] appeals to people who want to maintain a particular lifestyle. They’re purchasing a service to make life more enjoyable."

Davis notes that JFS provides a wide range of services to those 60 and above. He cites counseling, consultation to families, care management, and Holocaust survivor services. In addition, the group provides information and referral services, kosher meals on wheels, and van transportation for medical appointments, shopping, visits to senior activity centers, and essential errands. The JFS Volunteer Services division arranges for visitors, telephone reassurance, and occasional drivers.

"Our goal is to help the older person remain in the community through our support services," says Davis. "We want to help seniors retain independence and dignity."

—Lois Goldrich

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