The Atlanta Jewish agency that encompasses facilities and services for the aging population is in the process of renewing itself with a new name, expanded services and a new tagline: Care for a New Age.
As of this September, Jewish HomeLife Communities is dropping the last word in its name “because we don’t want people to think of us as only bricks and mortar,” explained President and CEO Harley Tabak. “We also see many people in their homes. We see ourselves trying to find new ways to meet the needs of an aging population.”
The organization that started in 1951 and includes the William Breman Jewish Home, Aviv Rehabilitation Center, The Zaban Tower, The Jewish Tower, The Cohen Home, Berman Commons, The One Group, JHLC Medical Services and Weinstein Hospice wants to raise $3 million to launch a geriatric physicians practice that would care for those at the beginning of dementia.
“There’s a huge shortage of geriatric physicians,” Tabak said. He considers the demand a virtual tsunami as baby boomers are aging. “I believe this will be one of the most challenging issues we’re facing” as a community and as a country.
According to Tabak, Americans have come to almost take for granted that they want the best healthcare, the best surgery and cancer care. “What we don’t like to talk about is: What do we do with all these people who have survived” these illnesses? “There are those in their 70s who are caring for parents in their 90s. Every year there are more and more aging, so that’s why the analogy to a tsunami is good. I started in this field 40 years ago and the aging population is just getting bigger and bigger.”
In addition to a new name, new tagline, and hopefully, a geriatric practice, Tabak wants to do more partnering with other agencies. “AgeWell is a collaboration of us, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family & Career Services and the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, putting all the different programs for older adults into one seamless organization,” he said. “We are launching an updated website over the summer and will have an intake person. When I started, there were overlapping services, but not anymore.”
Jewish HomeLife is also looking into the possibility of launching a senior facility in the Toco Hills area. “We’ve been in conversations,” Tabak said.
Jewish HomeLife offers educational services to help better educate people about aging, and various programs on dementia and other relevant subjects. In September, it will hold a program on medical marijuana for those suffering from chronic illness.
Known as the “singing CEO” because he likes to sing Jewish melodies and American folk songs, Tabak always knew his career would be focused on geriatrics. Since he came to Jewish HomeLife Communities as CEO 15 years ago, the agency’s budget has grown to $35 million and it now employs 400. “It was probably one-third of that when I started. We’ve expanded our scope of services to wherever people are in the aging journey. Our mission is to support the aging journey using Jewish values.”