A senior enjoys using her laptop to stay in touch with her family.

Nathan Ludman, 87, recently sat with his iPad in the lobby of the Edward I. & Freda Fleischman Residence, Skype-ing with his brother in San Francisco. The two haven’t seen each other in a few years, and when Carol Rosenberg, Director of the Jewish Senior Life Foundation, walked by, she joined the conversation.

“We’ve heard wonderful things about Jewish Senior Life,” Nathan’s brother said. “My brother is so happy there. And when we come to visit, we’d love to meet you.”

Old folks?  No more

This isn’t any more an old folks’ home, and it’s not just a hobby-shop for crafts. It’s the new face of aging, under a vibrant new brand: Jewish Senior Life.

There are artists, computer mavens, and Skype conversations, cell phones, tai chi aficionados, and retired professionals honing their skills. Detroit’s most recent demographic study revealed that a quarter of our community is older than 65. Compared with other Jewish communities across the country, outside of Florida,  Detroit is home to the largest number of older adults.  And we have a remarkably high number of older adults whose children and grandchildren live locally.

Jewish Senior Life (JSL), together with Jewish Family Service, JVS and the Jewish Community Center, are committed to providing a full spectrum of services for all older adults living in the Detroit metropolitan community.

Responding to growing needs:  it’s time

As Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Senior Life, Rochelle Upfal, observes,  “It is time to respond to our responsibility to older residents in our community by providing affiliations, better connections, the right facilities and cutting-edge technology to serve a diversity of needs. That’s our purpose in establishing a new concept of Jewish Senior Life.”

Jewish Senior Life is expanding the programs and services for older adults in the months to come. This month, in May, which is national recognition of Older Americans, JSL offers two celebrations of Detroit’s dynamic older adults: the Oldest Jewish Americans Brunch (May 4, 2012, at 11 a.m., at Shaarey Zedek) and 8 Over 80 (May 220, 2012 at 11:30 a.m., at Temple Israel). Both events are an example of the way Jewish Senior Life highlights and assists in the celebration of older adults and their contributions to our community.

In celebration, May is Older Americans Month

Older Americans Month was established in 1963 and is promoted yearly by the federal Administration on Aging. Back then, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays. At that time, about one-third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs nationwide to meet their needs. Now, the fastest growing population is people older than 80; Jewish Senior Life responds to the various needs of every individual in that demographic.

“What we have learned through demographic research is light-years from what we knew in the early 1900s,” says Rosenberg. “Then, they were ‘old folks’ – Eastern European Jews who came to this country for support.”

“JSL represents the new face of aging – a holistic approach to supporting older adults through mind, body and soul,” she says.

Matt Lester, JSL Vice President and Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, says, “The importance of JSL cannot be overstated. Indeed, the measure of our entire Detroit Jewish community will be meaningfully tied to the success of JSL, which will become a model for the entire country. We are determined to be innovative and efficient while also maintaining our reputation for excellent care and first-rate service.”

Jewish Senior Life offers residences, programs and services for older adults living throughout metropolitan Detroit. For any questions regarding older adults, call 248-661-1836. Visit the website: www.jslmi.org.