Categorized | Jewish Religion

Finding kosher living in a senior community


By Bonnie Davis

Bonnie Davis

Bonnie Davis

LOS ANGELES — For most families, starting a search for the right type of senior living community for a loved one can be an emotional and complex experience. The need to account for specific dietary and cultural needs can further complicate the process. For those who follow kashrut, finding a senior living community that will support a resident’s requirement to keep kosher is an important factor to consider when evaluating senior living options.

There are a wide variety of care options available today that cater to different care needs. In areas with a large Jewish population, there are typically kosher options that range from small board-and-care homes to larger assisted living communities.

The best match will depend on the individual, the nature of their medical needs, budgets and personal preferences. For many Jewish families, the key to finding the right fit for their loved ones means striking a balance between meeting a loved one’s care needs and their desire to maintain a kosher lifestyle.

While some may not have initially set out to look for an orthodox environment, the option for kosher dining can help many Jewish seniors reconnect with their faith. Others find that living in a kosher community makes it easier to maintain a Jewish identity in their later years.

This identity can help seniors feel that they are part of a larger community and can also serve as a comforting reminder of traditions from their childhood. Communities that offer the opportunity to participate in Jewish traditions, including Shabbat services, rabbinical visits and festivities that commemorate Jewish holidays can further provide a spiritual benefit that may not be tangible, but some senior community staff members have said is undeniable.

How to Start the Search

No matter a person’s background, there are three important factors that families should consider when starting the search for a senior living community.

1) Consider your loved ones’ current living situation. Before starting the search for a community, assess the existing situation. Are your loved ones able to go about A day-to-day routine independently? Do you have any concerns about safety? What help do they need and what level of care do they receive now? Are specific medical issues being monitored and managed efficiently? Taking a look at a loved one’s living situation can help provide a better picture of the type of senior living community that should be considered.

2) Figure out your loved ones’ true budget range. It’s important to obtain an accurate account of finances. Make sure to factor in fixed living costs, such as medications, insurance premiums, mortgage and car payments. Calculate how much monthly income you have to work with, which may come from social security, pensions, annuities, investments, savings, retirement accounts or help from family members. Don’t forget to check for other potential sources of monetary assistance, such as Veterans Benefits and long-term care insurance.

3) Consider the importance of location as well as desired amenities and services. Once the budget and level of care have been determined, consider the importance of other factors, such as location, type of meals served and activities offered. Is there an option to bring pets? Is the location of the community near family and friends? What activities are available that would be of interest to a loved one?

For Jewish families looking for a kosher senior community, it’s important to determine a community’s level of kosher adherence. Some communities may be kosher with an outside mashgiach who is paid by an outside organization and enforces the organization’s standards. Another community may have an in-house mashgiach who manages a community’s own kosher observances. A community may simply state that they offer kosher style menus that avoid pork, shell fish and other forbidden food, but may not have separate meat and dairy kitchens.

Many families will eventually need to make the decision on how to best care for an aging parent or relative. It’s never too early to start educating yourself on available options and planning financially. Starting the conversation now can help reduce the stress that can come with this life change and can help ensure that loved ones maintain the best quality of life possible.


Davis is a Senior Living Advisor with A Place for Mom



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