Jewish Family Service talks about keeping our resources within the community

“Haven’t We All Needed Help”

Reprinted from Shalom New Haven Summer Edition 2023

Historically, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven was an organization that people reached out to in time of need. The NEW JFS says, “haven’t we all needed help? Can the neediness of an incident be prevented by community resources and involvement?”

What do we mean? Let’s use the newly minted Care Navigators program as an example for how community members can make use of JFS services, keeping our resources in the community while avoiding a spend-down to outside corporations without being in need. Simultaneously, these users of the Care Navigators system will be engaged in creating their own vibrant quality of life to their own standards and definition. 

The Census Bureau reports that within a decade, 1 in 5 people will be older adults, notes Elanit Linder, LMSW and Director of Adult Aging Services at JFS. “If we ignore the fact that in a short 10 years we will have more older adults than any other age group including children, then our entire social service network will be in crisis,” she warns.

AARP reports that an initial assessment by an Aging Life Care Professional can vary widely and generally runs between $800 to $2,000 (Julie Wagner, CEO of the Aging Life Care Association). Hourly rates for ongoing services range from $90 to $250. JFS’s research showed that the only non-profit Aging Life Care Program in the state is through the Agency on Aging. The Agency on Aging catches those folks in in poverty on Medicaid and cannot serve the middle income poor struggling on their Social Security and pension payments. After months of research, JFS settled on an out of state non-profit model to build a program that serves a diverse cohort of people regardless of background or socioeconomic status. 

Care Navigators is made affordable by billing in 10 minute increments or a Care Navigator Unit at $36. This way clients only pay for what they need. As a non-profit, any fees that come in help the community of older adults who may not have resources. All revenue from Care Navigators is returned to the “pot” and helps to fill in gaps in service. JFS reviews all cases regardless of ability to pay. The number of double chai or $18 x 2 was chosen specifically to communicate that by using the Care Navigators services a client is not only educating themselves for preventative measures but also giving charity or tzadakah by keeping their resources in aging and in the Jewish Community. Why wouldn’t someone choose to get their information at a lower cost and a benefit to the community?

With an upcoming Aging Mastery program the goal of Care Navigators and JFS as a whole is to re-empower the community. In aging, this is incredibly important. The upcoming Boomers will not live like their parents. This is an intentional, self-sufficient generation that advocated not only for themselves but also for social justice and equity. They will not “receive care” but will empower themselves to make decisions. Care Navigators wants to take the fear out of aging and tackle the hard questions.

Says Elanit, “I cant stand it when people put death, dying and disability on the aging. People live or die at every age and stage of life. One of my favorite linguistic changes that I’ve implemented is to change the language of death to ‘life completion.’ I didn’t find this in an existential book on aging and life like Guande’s Being Mortal, which should be read by everyone, I stole it from a Trevor Noah joke. When people asked what the Queen of England died from, he pauses, stares into the camera and shouts “she died from completing her life!” 

That makes so much sense to me. We are all on a spiritual journey. A woman I grew up with passed away in her 30s, another friend lost a child, and I work with sharp healthy centenarian folks! Life is about living and life completion is a part of that process. I also follow a lot of the disability arts and am passionate about the work of Gaelynn Lea. There are many paths to live a meaningful life at every stage of health and wellbeing. Please check her out!” 

Care Navigators helps untangle messy family relationships and historical trauma so that everyone can age well in the best communication possible. They educate to truths about how we age in this for-profit healthcare system and in the state of Connecticut. They share resources such as palliative and hospice care information, helping folks to choose what end of life decisions they make. 

Please reach out to Elanit at to find out how you can get more invested and excited about your aging, as well as more involved in this important community program. She is available to share in a scheduled appointment or at your local book club, synagogue or community center.