They Made a Difference in My Life

Posted on August 28, 2019

A trip to Israel is always something special.  My husband and I have traveled to Israel many times and while there is much to see, we have already visited many places.  Our trips now focus on experiencing Israel and Israel society rather than seeing places.

 

Six years ago, I had the option to study combined with a volunteer placement.  My volunteer placement was through Skilled Volunteers for Israel and I spent my mornings at an agency called Melabev.  Melabev calls itself a Memory Club and those that come there on a daily basis are members.  The members suffer from dementia.  While most members are of an advanced age (my definition is 20 years older than I am) there are people who are my age and younger.  Many have significant mobility issues. Most have full time caregivers that allow them to remain in their homes.   However, being at home with a caregiver provides little stimulation which can lead to a more rapid decline.  Melabev provides a social setting, stimulation through music, art, crafts, conversation and some physical movement, albeit limited.

Melabev is staffed with caring professionals.  As a volunteer, my job is to perform routine tasks to free up the professionals to work with the members.  It can be as simple as pouring and serving drinks and serving meals, helping the members with meals or helping in the kitchen.  Sometimes it means sitting next to members during music time and singing with them, talking to them about the magazine they are looking at or the weather.  Many of the members were professionals and well-educated but dementia has robbed them of much of that.  Melabev treats its members with such respect and care and recognizes the dignity of each person.

There were several members that I formed a relationship with in the short time I was there.  There was the rabbi; he and I would discuss the weekly parsha.  There was the former English teacher that barely spoke but through her facial expressions and gestures signaled she wanted me to sit with her and play percussion instruments with her during music time.  One of the men wanted to wander one day, so we walked through the enclosed garden together.

Did I make a difference in their lives I will never know, but they made a difference in mine.