ELDERLY SHOWGIRLS AND AGING ARTISTS

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THE CHARITY LIST

For the last 19 years, Laura Radensky has dedicated her days to caring and advocating for senior citizens living on the Upper West Side.

A busy mother of four, Radensky joined the staff of the Jewish Home Lifecare years ago as a homecare social worker after earning her degree at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. Jewish Home Lifecare, a long-term care and rehabilitation facility on West 106th Street.

Early in her career, Radensky spent years visiting often ill and low-income seniors in their homes, meeting colorful characters and forging close relationships with clients, many of whom were isolated without close

Laura Radensky also visits seniors who are members of the Old Broadway Synagogue, where her husband is the president. Photo By: Andrew Schwartz

Laura Radensky also visits seniors who are members of the Old Broadway Synagogue, where her husband is the president. Photo By: Andrew Schwartz

friends or family. These experiences exposed her to worlds she otherwise would never have encountered. Many of the seniors Radensky has worked with have intriguing pasts; clients have included former showgirls, artists, musicians, a boxer, veterans, and domestic and factory workers.

“For many clients I played an important role in terms of just having someone that would remember them,” Radensky said. “I like the fact that I feel that we really help people who are very much in need.”

Some of the seniors that Radensky has connected with were also her most challenging cases, she said, pointing to situations in which family members were difficult to deal with and clients slow to warm up to her.

Radensky has held several positions with Jewish Home Lifecare, moving from home visits to supervising other social workers and now working as the organization’s community relations and legislation liaison. In that role, Radensky often travels to Albany to meet with elected officials and lobby for senior issues.

She has also created a training program to help caregivers identify elder abuse and has shared the curriculum with colleagues across the country.

“Elder abuse is very much an underreported problem,” Radensky said, especially in New York City, with so many seniors vulnerable to being taken advantage of since they live alone. “It’s problem that needs more attention.”

Radensky also trains volunteers who visit and help seniors at home and helps coordinate other programs. Through the Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) program, a nonprofit that works with Jewish Home Lifecare, seniors have learned how to order groceries online, send emails and download pictures.

“Laura has been pivotal in the development of some of the programs in our division,” said Bridget Gallagher, senior vice president of community services at Jewish Home Lifecare, and a colleague of Radensky’s. “(Clients) are doing things they never thought they would be able to do.”

Radensky is “so down to earth,” said Gallagher, “and clients know that she’ll go the ninth yard for them. She’s incredibly impressive.”

Since 1986, California native Radensky, has called the Upper West Side home. In addition to her work at Jewish Home Lifecare and caring for her four kids, she also spends a good deal of time at the Old Broadway Synagogue on 125th Street, which is run by her husband, Paul Radensky. The Orthodox Jewish synagogue was established in 1923.

“He does everything,” she said. “He’s the president, he makes the food before Shabbat, he does the programming.”

Radensky often lends a hand herself, making home visits to elderly congregants when they’re unable to attend services.

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