Cape Jewish Seniors May 2020

Water aerobics

June Calendar for download:

** At the time of publication, the CJSA had suspended all activities due to COVID-19. Events advertised in this calendar are subject to change or cancellation. For more information visit CJSA on Facebook**

Life is a challenge, but can also be a blessing

No-one has gone unscathed during the past few weeks. Life as we knew it will never be the same with the new norm still to be discovered. For all, and especially our older members of the community, it has been a very unsettling time — a time of isolation, time for reflection, mindfulness, compassion and kindness, which our community has shown in a million different ways.

The seven welfare organisations, together with broader community leaders have worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone has been held, heard and assisted at all times, going beyond their expected calls of duty to provide the best service and assistance to all.

There will be a life after Covid 19 and it will surely be a good one. Maybe we will all be kinder, more mindful and supportive after this surreal experience and hopefully we will have learned important life’s lessons after all we have been through.

The older brain is wise, compassionate and creative.
The idea that your mind has to decline with age is false and there is plenty we can do to keep it sharp, as leading neuroscientist

Dr Daniel Levitin explains in his new book The Changing Mind. According to him, one can drastically increase your healthy years by looking after your brain. In fact, old age is a time of extraordinary, and beneficial brain development. Dr Levitin, when writing the book, was looking for advice to give his own parents who were in their 80s and he realised that much of what we have learnt had not trickled down to the average reader.

There are distinct advantages and growth opportunities that come from the later stages of life. There are remarkable improvements in mood as older adults become more emotionally stable and more compassionate. Anyone who has noticed an older relative mellowing with age may be correct, as changes in the older brain tend to make people become more tolerant and grateful.

You don’t have the same neurochemistry at age eight or 38 or 68. Dopamine, a chemical associated with drive and pleasure, decreases with age, while norepinephrine and serotonin remain stable. It’s impossible to narrow down the effects of one chemical in the brain, but changes in even a single neurotransmitter like dopamine can cause the remaining chemical receptors to function differently. Dr Levitin explains that some people who have had chronic mental problems throughout their lives find that their symptoms disappear when they reach old age, and there is no longer the need for treatment.

There are even intellectual improvements to look forward to including certain kinds of problem solving, especially those that require compassion and empathy. The wisdom of older people is real and could be explained by changes in the brain that allow the left and right sides to communicate more freely with each other, allowing you to combine analytical and creative thinking.

For example, in later life changes in the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain mean we can get more easily distracted, which impacts on your short-term memory. You are not forgetting; you are just getting distracted thinking about something else.

There is also age bias in memory — people with hearing loss perform just as well as younger adults when tested in a quiet place. Changes in the orbitofrontal cortex which sits just behind your eyeballs, means that after 60 your body clock is likely to shift forwards a couple of hours.

Of course, many people do suffer from extreme memory loss and dementia as they age, but it’s not inevitable and there is plenty we can do to reduce this risk, like eating healthily, not smoking and drinking less alcohol.
If you start suffering from signs of dementia, don’t assume you have it. Check medication first as this is the number one cause of confusion and disorientation in older people. Make sure your doctor knows what medication you are taking before starting on a new one so there is no unintended adverse interaction. We should replace the stigmatisation of dementia with hope as it is not the end of one’s life and there is still plenty one can do. Make sure that you are taking as much control as possible over your life, even if you are in a care home. Your brain needs to be constantly challenged to stay sharp.

Levitin’s number one piece of advice is “don’t retire”. You should also pay attention to the physical health of your brain — eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. A hungry brain has to stay sharp to look for food. Exercise is especially protective when done outside. Levitin’s core point is that you should never just give up in old age — keep on
pushing yourself.

Ten rules of looking after an older brain
• Don’t retire — don’t stop engaging yourself in meaningful work. It doesn’t have to be paid work, just purposeful.
• Look forward, don’t look back. Reminiscing doesn’t promote health — socialise, work and stay healthy.
• Exercise and get your heart going.
• Embrace a moderate lifestyle with healthy practices.
• Keep your social circle exciting and new. Add new people to your life.
• Spend time with people younger than you.
• See your doctor regularly, but not obsessively. Health problems are best picked up early.
•Don’t think of yourself as old. Stay independent as much as possible.
• Appreciate your cognitive strengths. You bring experience to the table that younger people don’t have.
• Promote cognitive health through experiential learning — travel, spend time with grandchildren and immersion in new activities and situations.

Diana Sochen Executive Director

Out and about with members

Social and Personal
As we have not received any social and personal news this month, all congratulations and condolences will appear in our next newsletter. Hoping that all our members are keeping well and staying safe.

Special events in May

** At the time of publication, the CJSA had suspended all activities due to COVID-19. Events advertised in this calendar are subject to change or cancellation. For more information visit**


4 May Long Walk to Freedom Statues
18 May Toeke Specialist Shop
Sea Point
6 May Dunes Restaurant in Hout Bay
27 May Long Walk to Freedom Statues
21 May Long Walk to Freedom Statues
26 May Montebello Centre, Newlands
West Coast
19 May Long Walk to Freedom Statues

Milnerton 8 May Stuart Diamond
Sea Point 13 May Stuart Diamond
S/Suburbs 20 May Stuart Diamond

13 May Judge Dennis Davis
Sea Point 19 May Jonathan Bloch
Milnerton 21 May Dave Steward

To read or download the full May issue PDF of the Chronicle, click here

To keep up to date on COVID-19 related community news, click here

Portal to the Jewish Community: to see a list of all the Jewish organisations in Cape Town with links to their websites, click here

To receive the Chronicle each month in your inbox instead of your postbox please email and we will make it happen.

Follow the Chronicle: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here