Baycrest Centre's Work With Aged Holocaust Survivors
The Holocaust Resource Program offers consultation, counselling, and educational services for clients, families and survivors in the community, at Baycrest and in other long-term care facilities. Staff with specialized expertise run ongoing support groups for child survivors and children of survivors.
had identified the need to develop evidence-based training for aged care workers to improve the way they interacted with Holocaust survivor clients in both residential and community aged care. It was considered vital that the training program be flexible enough to be delivered to all levels of aged care personnel (including managers, team leaders, allied health personal, and direct care workers). The project focused on two groups of older survivors who endured the trauma and losses of genocide many decades ago and subsequently resettled in Australia—Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and survivors of the Cambodian genocide. The vast majority of Holocaust survivors living in Australia today are aged in their 80s and 90s. The child survivors are mostly aged in their 70s. Most adult survivors of the Cambodian genocide who live in Australia today are aged over 60, with some in their 70s and 80s. These two groups of older survivors underwent periods of resettlement, social adjustment and rebuilding their lives decades ago.
Within a life course theoretical perspective, the survivors experienced a cohort effect, as their experience and memory of World War II is unique and only shared with others who were targeted for annihilation by the Nazis. Traditional psychoanalytic developmental theory (Lifton 1979; Krystal 1981; Suedfeld, P., E. Soriano, et al.) indicates major challenges for aging survivors in the early studies, but a larger aging cohort and a broader theoretical approach within the context of the life course perspective demonstrates more health and resilience than initially reported. (Suedfeld, Soriano et al. 2005, Kahana et al, 2005.
Lifton, R. J. (1979). The Broken Connection: On Death and the Continuity of Life. New York, Simon and Shuster.
Krystal, H. (1968). Massive Psychic Trauma. New York, International Universities Press.
Suedfeld, P., E. Soriano, et al. (2005). “Erikson’s “Components of a Healthy Personality”Among Holocaust Survivors Immediately and 40 Years After the War.” International Journal of Aging & Human Development 60(3): 229-248