The Needs of Holocaust Survivors

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Selfhelp is the oldest and largest provider of comprehensive services to Holocaust survivors in North America.  In the last year alone, Selfhelp’s Holocaust Survivor Program (HSP) served 4,500 survivors with a wide range of Person Centered, Trauma Informed (PCTI) services that are essential to aging in place, including enhanced case management, subsidized home care, chore and housekeeping services, emergency financial assistance, and myriad social/educational programs.  

Selfhelp’s The Holocaust Survivor Program is the means by which Selfhelp Community Services fulfills its mission-driven commitment to serve as the "last surviving relative" to victims of Nazi persecution. The overall goal of the HSP is aligned with that of the wider Selfhelp organization: to enable seniors to remain in their homes and communities, living with independence and dignity,

Based on statistics from comprehensive studies performed by UJA-Federation of New York and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Selfhelp estimates that New York City is now home to approximately 40,000 Holocaust survivors – more than half of all the survivors living in the United States. And in 2025, New York City will still be home to approximately 23,000 survivors, who will have complex needs that require community-based support.

The needs of survivors grow in number and complexity as they age.

·         Nearly 50% of the survivors coming to Selfhelp live 150% below the federal poverty level.

·         35% of survivors are coping with serious chronic illness

·         41% require help with daily tasks

·         73% of survivors describe their health as poor or fair

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The actual needs of this population may be greater than projected because of the ways in which surviving the Holocaust affected their physical development.  During the childhood and adolescence, Holocaust survivors experienced long periods of malnutrition, direct physical assault and exposure to severe weather conditions with minimal clothing and footwear.  These circumstances had a direct impact on their physical condition, leading to ailments such as brittle bones, stomach disorders, impaired vision, heart and circulation problems, high blood pressure, dental problems, and foot problems.  Holocaust survivors, as a group, also have a high incidence of chronic depression, anxiety, and sleeping disorders associated with chronic post-Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As survivors age and become more isolated, the memories of the war return.  Exasperating this is that as cognitive impairments become prevalent, memories from childhood reawaken more prominently. For survivors those memories are nightmares.

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Please join Selfhelp in providing Holocaust survivors with the vital programs and services

they need to live independently with dignity.