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Introduction
The purpose of this Manual
What is the Holocaust?
Caring for Aging Survivors
The Child Survivors
Acknowledgements

 
The Purpose of this Manual
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Paula David, MSW, Coordinator, Holocaust Resource Project, Baycrest Centre

Caring for Aging Survivors of the Holocaust has been designed to educate and sensitize all people who care for elderly Survivors of the Holocaust. This material is intended to support family members, health care professionals and varied support staff in the challenging and rewarding tasks involved in ensuring optimum care for aging Survivors. It cannot be overstated enough that it is important to learn about the Survivor's losses while at the same time never forgetting to celebrate their lives. Working with aging Holocaust Survivors is a challenge and a privilege that requires knowledge and sensitivity. Working with Survivors of the Holocaust allows us to witness the indefinable potential of the human spirit and its resilient nature. This work pushes all of us a little further and brings us a little closer to conceiving the inconceivable and to understanding how these men and women endured the unendurable.

As we respond to the ever-changing needs of the Survivors of the Holocaust, we are also learning of relevant connections to the needs of all survivors of genocide. Tragically, other cultures and countries have also been victims of genocide since the Nazi Holocaust. It is imperative that individuals working with aging Jewish Survivors share both their knowledge and their resources with these other communities. While we cannot prevent the fact of genocide, we can participate in the support and healing of all Survivors.
Over the last half century since Liberation, Survivors, their families and caregivers have had time to rebuild, regroup and reassess the care needs of their various life stages. This manual focuses on the aging Survivors of the Holocaust, with the recognition that this work will also evolve and individualize to other groups and communities.

Recognizing the uniqueness of this clientele, their extreme age and extreme exposure to violence helps us understand the need for an individualized response to individuals' needs. Employing creative responses with this population is not an option but a necessity. It is a unique opportunity to blend theory with practice that will benefit service providers, the community and ultimately the Survivors of the Holocaust.

Family members and health care providers have commented that they need contextual and practical information about how to handle challenging situations with survivors. The most effective way to respond to the needs of this diverse group is to learn about the range of experiences and trauma that Survivors experienced and then provide compassionate, sensitive and individualized care.
Specialized training in the care of people who lived through the Holocaust is the key to quality care. This manual can be read in sections, according to each reader's area of interest. Alternatively, agencies and service providers may want to use the manual to develop an in-service program, possibly reproducing portions of the text as handout material. Someone knowledgeable about providing care to aging Survivors should facilitate in-service sessions. The topic headings can assist in the development of a training curriculum.