International Elder Care Share

Can you imagine a push button computerized toilet, complete with clock, that blows dry and even swishes water to disguise sounds? This is just one of the goodies discovered by a team of 11 elder care professionals who visited Japan for an international elder care information exchange. The trip was headed up by Judy Weitzner, former director of Contra Costa County’s Senior Information and Referral program. Weitzner has spearheaded international sharing with Japan for the past 6 years, and the Japanese team will visit here in early July.

The Contra Costa delegation, who jokingly refer to themselves as the “Geishas,” included Kathy Radke from Senior Peer Counseling, elder law attorney Trudi Riley, Naomi Gary from Montego Heights Assisted Living, Valorie Van Dahl from Adult Protective Services, home health aide trainer Barbara Gearhart, Bob Rinehart from JFK University, and Alzheimer’s Specialist Carol Bibeau. As we all talked prior to a CCTV television taping about the trip, each person, dressed in kimonos, expressed similar reasons for traveling. They asked “What can we learn from the Japanese? What commonalties do we share?” The following are snippets from their two weeks of discoveries.

We are ahead in these areas:

All of the “geishas” returned home with insights for their elder care specialties and all were unanimous in saying “the trip was life altering.” With tears in her eyes, Naomi Gary describes a poignant moment experienced by her 79-year-old mother, Melba Margolis, a retired social worker daubed the “matriarch” of the trip. Margolis found herself face to face with a Japanese matriarch. Both were young during the World War Two and both carried memories of being enemies. Neither could speak the other’s language. Yet each quietly bowed to the other, extended a hand, smiled and said “Let’s get together.”

You can catch a glimpse of the trip on Weiztner’s Senior Information Journal. CCTV, Tuesday Night, July 2 at 8:00 PM and Thursday July 5, 9:30 AM.