"Kindergarten" for Russian-speaking grandparents in Miami
Adult Day Care is a small space in the Miami suburb of Hallandale. There is a day care center here, but not for children, but for the elderly, which opened at the beginning of the year. Its name translates as "Center for Health, Communication and Active Lifestyle". However, as the staff of the center say, the word “elderly” is not used here.
“We communicate with them only as with young people -“ girls ”and“ boys ”,“ guys ”. We want to make them feel younger, make them interesting. Of course, we do it very carefully, because we don't know how they will react, ”says Larisa Birman, teacher, trainer, entertainer and professional musician all rolled into one.
Immediately get to the morning warm-up. In the 18 hall people, there are several married couples. Larisa asks to repeat various exercises after her - not the most difficult, taking into account age, physical exercises, but also exercises on concentration, brain activity and memory development.
All exercises are performed while sitting on a chair. Standing is dangerous, - Larisa explains to me later. In addition, it is necessary for the body to be as relaxed as possible, which is facilitated by the sitting position.
“Sam, you don’t need to do this, just look at me,” at some point Larisa warns one of the “students”. “Michael, you’re not listening to me at all, tomorrow I’ll call my parents.”
In the hall - laughter. So, with humor, literally in the same breath, a warm-up flies by. It ends with dancing. And they are different here, including national ones.
“They dance as best they can, we turn on different songs - both Russian and non-Russian, we like Jewish very much, and we cheer people up,” says Larisa.
After the dance various classes begin in groups. Someone goes to play dominoes, someone - in billiards.
"We are in America - not the dregs of society"
I walk over to a woman who confidently holds a cue in her hands and sends another ball into the pocket with excitement. This is Inna, her 83, although it is absolutely impossible to believe in it.
“I have been living in Miami for 11 years, before that I had lived in New York for a long time, but I have never met such a“ kindergarten ”, as we call it,” Inna shares her impressions. She is originally from St. Petersburg. - The main thing is that everyone here is doing what they love. We are all old, sick, hard of hearing, poorly seeing, but here we feel young. We leave here extremely cheerful, filled with energy. We understand that we can still be useful to someone, although we look more backward than forward. "
Inna says that she, like many of her new friends, lives alone. After leaving the Soviet Union, she graduated from college in New York, although at that time she was almost 60, and even worked as a taxi driver.
“Formation in America was, of course, difficult, but I love America very much. This is a country that makes you feel like a man. For the elderly and the elderly, this is just a paradise country. We are here - not the dregs of society according to the principle “live out as you like”: they take care of us, make us feel equal. A good pension allows you to be self-sufficient. If you want to play sports or music, there are such opportunities. For example, I sing in the local choir, and for each holiday we prepare a different repertoire, go to nursing homes, make pleasant surprises and lift our spirits to ourselves. ”
Inna's son lives in New York, and the only granddaughter who grew up and stayed in St. Petersburg does not communicate with her.
“The granddaughter graduated from the university with a degree in English literature of the 19th century. I would like her to come here, but she has absorbed so much of this poison about America that she treats me badly. I have never even seen my great-granddaughter, who was just born, - complains Inna. - In Russia, such a policy is being pursued in relation to America, people are somehow zombified, they believe that America is trying to seize Russia. It hurts me a lot, and I do not share Russian politics, I am even ashamed of it. Russia is losing a lot, the big minds and pride of the Russian people are leaving and benefitting in other places, not in their own country. The culture that I left behind is no longer there. "
Echoes of the Ukrainian conflict
Isaac Milgram, or Isaac, as he is called in America, is a native Kievite, a scientist. He writes poems that are greatly appreciated and praised at the Center.
I meet Isaac in an English class. In the room - he and his wife and another married couple. Soon he will turn 80, of which exactly half he lived in exile.
“It was a deliberate choice, I have long wanted to leave for America. At first he lived in New York, but he was alone, then he met his wife - she lived in Canada with her son. I followed her to the north of Canada, but every six months for the winter period I went to America, and I won't even put Canada and the States next door. America, in my opinion, is the most humane and noble country, it is a country of people and for people, ”says Isaac.
He has a son of his first wife - he lives in Europe, Isaac has no connection with him. In Miami, his wife's son lives with a granddaughter - it is because of them that Isaac and a donkey in Florida. They live separately, but the son, according to Isaac, helps them.
As a person associated with Ukraine, Isaac can not but share his opinion about what is happening in the east of the country and the rapid deterioration of relations between Kiev and Moscow in recent years.
“For me, Kiev is the best city in the world, it is dear to me, I was born there, even before the [Second World] War, and then served in the Russian army. I cannot wrest neither Ukraine nor Russia from my heart. What is happening now between Russia and Ukraine is very unpleasant, ”says Isaac.
He says to himself: he was always “counter”, so he saw the best decision to move to the United States during the Soviet years, and today he does not regret it at all.
How to find a common language with all
Natalia, who I found playing dominoes, says that she went to Russia in 2000 for the first and only time since she moved to the United States.
“The cure for nostalgia is amazing - once you go, the nostalgia disappears. As soon as I landed and saw the faces at customs: if a look could kill, it would have happened. And that's all. I was a month, after two weeks I howled and said that I wanted to go back. There was no more desire to return, ”she explains.
Natalya is a librarian by profession, but after the move she worked first as a bartender in hotel restaurants, then as a sales consultant at Macy's.
Natalia learned about the Adult Day Care center from a friend, and after the very first visit, she realized that she was comfortable here. The woman lives alone - both of her grandchildren, whom she raised, are already adults, and they, like her son, have their own lives.
“It's very easy for me here, it's easy for me to find a common language with everyone. I called my whole house and brought many people here, everyone really likes it. You can play billiards and learn how to use a computer, ”says Natalya.
Natalia is fluent in English, reads and speaks it, at the same time emphasizes that she is more comfortable to spend time in the center with Russian-speaking visitors and staff.
“There are many cultural and entertainment clubs in Miami for the elderly, but not for Russian speakers. Half of them speak English, but somehow they still don't feel like it. Draws to her, - explains the teacher of the center Larisa Birman. "Now they are watching an American film with a Russian translation, although I think it is better to watch it in the original."
On the big projector at this time - the famous Hollywood comedy Last Vegas (“The Last Bachelor Party in Vegas”) about four elderly men who go to Vegas to roughly hold the traditional party that precedes the marriage of one of them. The spectators in the hall react violently to various jokes and rather vigorously discuss films with each other.
Pressure, Diabetes and Nutrition
While Adult Day Care operates on a two-day basis - on Wednesdays and Thursdays - in the morning. However, in the near future, executives plan to switch to at least a three-day schedule with two shifts. Plans include gathering your choir, organizing picnics with outdoor games and fishing.
People who live far away are brought to the center and taken away in a minibus. In addition, they are fed twice a day.
“Naturally, we feed well. The food is specially made for the elderly, because among them, for example, there are many diabetics, explains Larisa. - As soon as they come, we measure the pressure. Everything is dietary, organic, decaffeinated drinks, there are always fruits and vegetables. "
According to Larisa Birman, there are no special wishes for the elderly. The main thing is to get them out of the depressive state, which they sometimes fall into because of their loneliness.
“The children and grandchildren of many of them have left for America and, in principle, they feel somewhat depressed. - says the teacher. - There are difficulties in any work with people. With children - some, with old people - others. Children don't know anything yet, but old people, on the contrary, already know everything. They love to advise, and we accept absolutely all their requests. Among them are candidates of sciences, writers, literary scholars, guides, the smartest people, they have something to tell others. "
Costs will cover Medicaid
On average, around 20 people attend classes at the center every day. The age range is from 65 to 80 years. Americans are rare guests here, but in the center they want to work not only with Russian-speaking grandparents.
“It's not difficult, we will hire those who speak both Russian and English. The Russians who come to us, basically, have lived in America for a long time and know the language, - says the head of the center Pavel. - The idea came up because it wasn't here. There are centers in English, in Spanish, there were not only Russians. There are such centers in New York, where I lived. I decided to try it. "
According to Pavel, it turned out to be quite difficult to realize his plans. It took a year to get a license.
“I had to deal with both the state and the city, I had to completely re-equip the premises, including toilets, which should be adapted for people with special physical needs, install all the necessary systems, including alarms,” says Pavel. - Nobody gave any privileges, including rent of premises. While we cannot receive money from the state, but in the future the Medicaid program will cover the costs for each individual visitor to the center. "
In order for the US State Medicaid Medical Assistance Program to cover their stay at the Center, older people are tested by special institutions in the city and state. The living conditions of a person and his state of health are checked to determine whether he needs long-term care. On average, according to Paul, each decision has to wait from six months to two years.
“It's just permission for a person to come to a type of institution like our center. Today we already have 3-4 people, whose presence is paid by the state, but we want to recruit at least 15 people to open for 3 days a week for 6 hours a day, ”says Pavel.
In the process of meeting with visitors, the center staff distributes questionnaires to them in order to learn more about each of them and about their abilities and talents. This will help in the future to organize additional programs for their interests.
Center address: Beach Club Adult Center, 2500 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd, Hallandale Beach, FL 33009, tel. 754-210-7154
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