SOAR Facebook Group Soars in Membership
Nancy Kaufman’s original vision was to provide a safe place for caregivers, where they could benefit from compassion, knowledge and guidance before a crisis arose.
After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).
When Nancy Kaufman’s mother became a senior, Kaufman struggled to navigate the system and arrange for her medical care. Out of her frustration came the Supporting Our Aging Relatives (SOAR) Facebook group, launched in 2017.
Kaufman’s original vision was to provide a safe place for caregivers, where they could benefit from compassion, knowledge and guidance before a crisis arose.
“My sister and I wanted to prevent others from being ‘hit on the head’ like we were,” she recalled, “thrown into murky waters without a roadmap, struggling in various directions from financial, daily living, estate planning, finding aides. There are no words to describe how overwhelming it was and [how it] continues to encompass our lives.”
Initially, Kaufman posted her idea in the hugely popular Jewish Moms of Atlanta (JMOA) Facebook group, where moderators deemed the term “aging” too all-encompassing. Kaufman decided to launch her own page. SOAR began with approximately 250 JMOA members and now has over 2,400, the majority of whom reside in Atlanta.
Just this week, SOAR featured conversations about bed rails, finding regular BINGO games, peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) lines, how to donate a lifelong collection, tips on recovering from hip surgery and the effects of Daylight Savings Time on dementia.
Other popular topics include educational aging events, companions, geriatric care managers, estate planning resources, rehab centers, assisted living facilities, needing or donating supplies, referrals and hospice care.
Happy thoughts? No, but usually useful. “I am rewarded almost daily when I see a post of someone struggling and, within minutes, others step forward with guidance,” Kaufman reflected. “Finding caregivers is very stressful, and this page has connected so many people in need with people in need of work: a win-win on both sides.”
Prior to launching SOAR, Kaufman reached out to AVIV Elder Care of JFCS, Berman Commons, the Breman Home, Temple Sinai and the Cohen Home to identify needs. As the senior demographic has received more attention, membership in SOAR has soared. Recent stats show the page has seen a 29 percent increase in activity and that some 94 percent of users are women.
To join, users must have an aged member of the family. Direct solicitation or advertising is not allowed, but referrals are encouraged. Judgmental comments are discouraged.
Running the group is far from easy. As a moderator, Kaufman reviews membership requests and posts, sometimes several hundred a day. “I used to operate on a three-strikes policy, but I have now changed to a ‘zero tolerance’ for solicitation due to fielding so many complaints,” she said.
“Also, it breaks my heart to hit the decline button. Some unknowingly break rules because they apply through a friend instead of on the page itself. I frequently post when I have declined requests as a ‘no,’ which typically means ‘try again’ by going directly to the page to request access. There is also a feature if someone prefers to post anonymously. Parties can elect to utilize the direct message PM feature on Facebook to connect.”
SOAR’s membership rules include “be kind and courteous to anyone who posts” and “should you choose to hire someone from a recommendation, conduct your own background checks and ask for references.” Those who work in elder care in any capacity are asked to disclose their affiliations.
Of her personal journey, Kaufman said, “One thing I learned is tikkun olam — how beautiful people are to each other. Even though I don’t wish this road on anyone, it’s comforting to know I don’t walk alone in my struggles. There are just some really tough days, and it’s nice to feel the compassion of others.”
“SOAR is filled with members who are mensches … people donating used walkers, wheelchairs, medicals supplies, furniture to those in need. The Hebrew term for gratitude is ‘hakarat ha’tov.’ SOAR has and will continue to thrive on the compassion and good that so many of us have to offer towards each other.”