Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit is known for signature programming spanning a range of interests, and we will ensure that it remains the most exciting and compelling senior living option for our current residents. Towards this end, JSL has developed an exciting pilot for the Meer Apartments independent living community in West Bloomfield that will be the area’s first of its kind: a vibrant Live and Learn model designed to foster social connection and wellness, spark intellectual stimulation, and discourse, and enrich the lives of all residents.

I recently connected with Wendy Handler, Live and Learn Consultant, who is leading this pilot program. She let me know she enjoyed a meaningful discussion with Meer residents at a recent Resident Council Meeting. “They are excited to begin and have so many ideas.” She went on to explain, “Drawing on the extensive resources of Southeast Michigan and beyond, JSL is constructing a dynamic curriculum designed expressly to spark social connection and intellectual stimulation through a range of engaging programs that reflect residents’ interests and generate the joy and connection that comes from learning with others.”

JSL’s Live and Learn offerings will take place both at Meer Apartments and off-site, in partnership with local, regional, and national educational and cultural institutions, synagogues, experts, and organizations dedicated to lifelong learning. Through ongoing discussions and assessments, JSL staff will seek input from Meer residents to determine the subject areas of greatest interest and build programs that reflect those community preferences.

A full schedule of diverse programs designed to accommodate a range of interests and learning styles is a cornerstone of JSL’s Live and Learn pilot, with offerings including lecture series, speakers and events, study groups, small-group discussions and learning experiences and trips to area destinations and hands-on creative opportunities. Program staff will also take advantage of speakers and community events that arise opportunistically.

Pre- and post-program surveys will be created and administered at regular intervals to ensure that Meer’s programs meet or exceed participant expectations and the program’s goals.

A series of grants have been written to support our program at Meer. To foster meaningful social engagement among residents, demonstrated best practices will be incorporated into the Live and Learn model at Meer, in alignment with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s May 2023 Advisory pointing to the profound positive physical and emotional impact of social connection on individuals and communities.  Resident-organized out-of-class activities such as informal discussion groups and get-togethers will be supported. Meer residents will also be encouraged to lead discussions, present content and organize meet-ups, according to areas of expertise, experience and interest. JSL will offer staff training designed to promote best practices for nurturing meaningful peer-to-peer connections among residents.  Program staff will convey this priority with all facilitators, who will be encouraged to provide post-class prompts for conversation related to their topics.  Additionally, staff will share JSL-developed Best Practice Guidelines with all those invited to present.

CEO, Nancy Heinrich shared her compelling thoughts at a recent board meeting, “The landscape for older adult living is changing rapidly as Baby Boomers age and housing options become increasingly differentiated.  Jewish Senior Life is dedicated to remaining the most compelling senior housing option available for the next generation of Detroit’s Jewish community.  The Live and Learn pilot at Meer Apartments will help to ensure JSL appeals to this cohort who seek connection, community involvement, lifelong learning, enhanced lifestyle, and purpose.  Throughout the pilot, JSL will study Live and Learn outcomes and adjust accordingly, with the intention of expanding the model to other JSL communities as appropriate and feasible. Considering this long-term commitment, JSL is grateful to the greater Detroit community for foundational support of this unique initiative.”

1 Comment:

  • Laura Levine Gumina /

    Well said, Ms. Heinrich. An inspiration.
    This story, understandably, made me think about the activities planned at another JSL residence, Anna and Meyer Prentis Apartments. The pilot program initiative, as described here sounds wonderful. Peer-to-peer connection is essential.
    I’m afraid that I do not attend many of the activities offered at Prentis. I spend a lot of time at home working at my computer, or on the phone taking care of business. So, I had to ask myself “What specifically do I value so much about my living experiences here”?

    The answers come easily. Starting with my social worker, the resident service coordinator, Mr. Steve Popkin. He encourages me, provides conversation and counsel, offers stimulating, challenging activities, and is a friend. His help with filing out forms, and other more pedantic chores is invaluable. A published poet. University-level lecturer. He dabbles in pottery and watercolor, guitar. Here we have an artist and he shares with all who enjoy this unusual man. The friendship, vital to my well-being, is a privilege. I try not to abuse it.

    Powerback Rehab offered to residents at Prentis provides professional physical and occupational therapy. The gym is fully equipped. The exercises are diverse- creatively designed to target the necessary areas of the body. Conveniently located on the ground floor of Prentis, there is no need to drive to an out-patient facility. Renee and Neha ( the director) are congenial and diligent, a pleasure to work out with both of them!

    The Jcare staff are friendly and kind. They patiently assist me in daily living skill activities. Every staff member, the reception desk folks, and the maintenance staff are caring and capable individuals. Many little treats at holiday times and timely correspondences arrive in our mailboxes. The traditional Jewish lifestyle is encouraged, holidays are observed.

    I consider myself in one of the best homes that I could have found in this city. Thanks, Jewish Senior Life!

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