For May’s annual recognition of American Stroke Month, we introduce you to Russell, a program participant of JEVS Supports Coordination.

After his stroke in 2013, Russell C. was in a nursing facility and confined to a wheelchair. He was feeling hopeless. He was depressed and wanted to give up. Russell turned to JEVS Human Services for help with getting back on his feet, moving into an apartment, and thriving in the community as a volunteer. Read about this “Ramblin’ Man” and his journey to independence and fulfillment in the Jewish Exponent.

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Nowadays, Russell enjoys his newfound freedom; he’s a happier man and doesn’t let his disability slow him down. He volunteers at a senior assisted living facility, The Chelsea at Jenkintown, Pa., running activities, Bible study, and such with residents and soon starting Shabbat services on Friday nights. Last month Russell conducted a seder there. He also dedicates three days of his busy week to Moss Rehabilitation Hospital–where he had rehabbed after his stroke–as a greeter, visiting and talking with stroke, brain injury, and gun shot victims.

This 54-year-old man with a heart of gold feels that he serves patients well as an example that one doesn’t have to let their disability define them. “I want to do God’s work, that’s why I want to help people,” Russell said.

Being active in the community is a result of Russell’s recovery, both physically and mentally. With assistance from JEVS Nursing Home Transition program, Russell moved from Majestic Oaks nursing home to an apartment in the Elkins Park House in Elkins Park, Pa. He can come and go as he pleases–the beauty of living independently. He even learned to get around town on the bus with his wheelchair. Russell does, however, require assistance from a direct care worker, who helps him to manage most of his activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing, preparing meals, and taking medications. Russell also needs assistance to maintain a safe living environment, so the worker assists with laundry, shopping, and light housekeeping too.

During this time of renewed spirit and purpose, Russell decided to go back to school earning his second master’s degree in Jewish Studies from Gratz College in May 2015. His latest achievement is having surgery on his foot this past fall, which has allowed him to come out of his wheelchair and walk with a cane. “I feel like a new man!”

Russell has a strong support system, with regular visits from his Mom and younger brother, and continues to receive help from JEVS through its Supports Coordination, a care management program that assures he is living a healthy, productive life. Services center on independent living, participant control in choices, and inclusion—all important to the JEVS mission of enhancing individuals’ quality of life. Russell’s service coordinator at JEVS, Bobi, helps him create and re-evaluate a personalized care plan and provides ongoing support.

“After my stroke, I was in a nursing home. JEVS helped me to transition into an apartment. My service coordinator is like a second mother. She makes sure I’m okay with my needs.”

– Russell

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Russell is like the 87 percent of adults age 65+ who want to stay in their current home and community as they age (AARP, 2014). And living in the community means huge savings to healthcare dollars as the median annual care costs in the Philadelphia area are $127,750 for nursing home care vs. $51,480 living at home with assistance from a home health aide (Genworth, 2016).

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