Student Aya Gabriel & Michal Zupan
The New Music Dept. student Aya Gabriel begun her scholarship term with Shalom, a resident of Musrara neighborhood, but was dismissed due to mismatch and had to look for other senior citizens.
She began volunteering with two old women. Michal Zupan is one of them and this is their story:
Michal Zupan lives alone near the Jerusalem’s German Colony. She has a 20-year-old caregiver from India named Nidu. She was very independent and liked to sit alone at the Ben Ami café on Emek Refaim.
In recent years, her memory has begun to deteriorate. Michal is a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel after the war. She came from Paris and during the war she was hidden in a house in Paris. Michal was in good contact with the woman who hid her until she died a few years ago.
Michal worked at the Theater Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was involved in costumes, scenery, graphics and production. She was married and widowed from her husband. She has no children and I understand that the subject is sensitive – I was asked not to ask about her husband and children.
Michal has taken an active role in establishing a group of women that is a kind of support group for activism and empowerment. The group meets for many years and in fact most of the women meet every Sunday until this day.
A few years ago, the group began to pay attention to the signs of dementia in Michal, and since she is alone, they divide between them the various tasks of assisting Michal in her state. She is not eager for help and sometimes it even bothers her.
On the other hand, about five months ago, she went to her regular coffee shop. On the way there, she fell and was confined to bed for four months. Currently she cannot be or walk alone. She is unaware of the need to pay at the coffee shop, forgets to drink and hardly ever eats.
With much will power she is slowly recuperating though with much caution.
She is not aware of her dementia and is so angry that she is not being told things (which she actually does not remember being told)
Her Short-term memory is highly damaged and you can have the same conversation with her every five minutes – she will not remember anything.
At the moment she does not want Nidu to go to the coffee shop with her because she has the distinct look of a foreign caregiver and Michal is afraid to look old and needy.
Here I come into the picture- I was asked by Leah Tsemel, one of her friends from the group, to accompany her to all places outside her home, thinking that maybe a girl with an Israeli appearance and less young will not make her think she looks in a therapeutic situation.