Mrs. R is an 85-year-old Russian-speaking Holocaust survivor who was born in Simferopol, Crimea. During World War II, she was relocated several times by the Germans, ending up in Kazakhstan.
In 1995, after losing her husband, Mrs. R. immigrated to New York to live with her younger sister. A widow with three children who are not local, Mrs. R lives alone and sustains herself on a very limited income through Social Security and SNAP benefits.
Like many who experience trauma, Mrs. R. continues to feel the after-effects of her tumultuous childhood. When she was an in-person witness to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, memories of death and destruction from her youth re-emerged, requiring ongoing treatment and medication for PTSD. When COVID-19 shut the world down, Mrs. R. was safe and well-cared for, with hot meals delivered to her daily, but the pandemic’s disruptions sparked PTSD symptoms, like panic attacks and severe anxiety. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Mrs. R. struggled with her PTSD once again. As a result of developing dementia, a consequence of severe chronic PTSD and aging, Mrs. R reverted to only speaking her native language, Russian.
Through the Y’s Hudson Community Project: Safe At Home, Mrs. R. works with a social worker and our recently hired Russian-speaking staff on a regular basis to ensure she has the support she needs as she ages in place. In addition, she found comfort in a new Y program that provides trauma-informed care and culturally sensitive programming for Russian-speaking Holocaust survivors.
While Mrs. R’s life experiences are unique, her circumstances are not. Upper Manhattan is home to thousands of older adults who need a language-sensitive entry point to the continuum of care like the one we’ve been able to give to Mrs. R.
Your generosity helps make all this happen and so much more. Please make a gift today to ensure older adults can age in place while maintaining their health, safety, and dignity.