Mick Stern—an artist, English Professor, advocate for journalists, and lifelong New Yorker—is a resident at Inspīr. He is part of Terra, our customized care program that offers therapies for residents who suffer from memory, motor, and other challenges. The program offers full-service care with benefits, including high levels of physical assistance, skilled nursing services, higher staffing ratios, medication management, and on-site medical services.
We recently sat down with Mick and Naomi Rosenblau, his wife of 38 years, who is a potter and a designer.
Naomi had been caring for Mick since his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2002. Inexplicably, his medications stopped working, and his condition rapidly deteriorated as he began to faint at unpredictable times. After one such spell, he remained unconscious for three days—waking up in a hospice with a broken wrist and no memory of what had happened. He couldn’t walk without assistance. The outlook was quite dire, so Mick’s neurologist at Beth Israel Medical Center decided to change Mick’s medications, allowing Mick to sit up, move around a little, and feed himself. He improved so rapidly that two months after being admitted, he was not sick enough to qualify for hospice care.
So, the question became, where to go?
Naomi, can you tell us a little about your journey and how you made the decision to bring Mick to Inspīr?
I was undergoing chemo for cancer while all of this was going on. I was totally involved in the details of day-to-day care for both of us, and suddenly, I was faced with a huge decision that would change both our lives.
That is an incredibly difficult decision.
Yes, it was a very emotional and painful decision to make. I didn’t feel I could care for him properly anymore in the way he deserved. I needed help. We had built a beautiful life together, and I didn’t want to start resenting him for the intense demands that caregiving placed upon me. So, I did some research into the best care and living option. The name Inspīr seemed to be on top of everybody’s list.
And how do you feel Mick is doing here?
Thankfully, Mick’s recovery at Inspīr is going well. He’s been regaining his strength and mobility—allowing him to return to his creative passions. I need to praise the team at Inspīr as they’ve helped Mick tremendously. The therapists have directed Mick to the right exercise regimen. They understand his medical history and are in regular communication with his doctors to develop a routine for Mick that’s both physically and mentally stimulating and evolves as his needs change. We are so pleased with his recovery!
What are some specific improvements in Mick that you’ve seen?
The PT has been, without question, critical in his treatment; they've been focusing on flexibility and movement: it’s helped improve Mick’s gait for one thing and his balance for another. Occupational therapy has been helpful for fine motor skills.
Mick, do you agree with your wife’s assessment? How do you feel?
Yes, just look at me! I’m doing great. This has made a world of difference. (Mick gets up and shows off some dance moves.)
How fantastic! Naomi, has Mick used the indoor saltwater pool at Inspīr?
Not yet, but we are hoping he will soon. The potential of aquatic therapy for Parkinson’s is very exciting. It gives those with the disease the freedom to move without fear of falling and allows for weight-bearing exercise without joint stress. Inspīr offers a variety of aquatic programs like water aerobics.
Mick, how often do you get to see Naomi?
I go home every weekend. Occasionally, she comes and spends the night here with me as well.
Mick, tell us the story of how you two met.
We met at a laundromat on Second Avenue. I was in Spin; she was in Dry. She asked me out, and we were married two months later. We share a love for world music and art and have traveled all over the world together, from East Africa and North Africa to India to South America and beyond.
We’d love to hear about your career! We understand it’s quite multifaceted.
I worked at a nonprofit called the Committee to Protect Journalists, which is an independent organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. From 1989 to 2008, l taught screenwriting at NYU. And I taught Shakespeare at Rutgers.
What was your favorite Shakespeare play to teach?
Antony and Cleopatra is a great love story.
Would you consider doing a book club here?
I would, but there is already a book club; they read contemporary stuff. If I did one, I would focus on classics like The Plague by Albert Camus, Dubliners by James Joyce, and Roughing It by Mark Twain.
You spend a great deal of your time at the art studio.
It’s a beautiful space. The room is always flooded with light, and the art supplies are plentiful.
So, between art, Naomi’s visits, PT, and re-exploring the classics, is there still time for other pursuits?
I write poetry. Do you want to hear a poem?
It’s called “Cultural Heritage.” Here it is:
Every bright kid is an Einstein,
Mona Lisa’s a pop singer’s ballad,
Napoleon is a pastry,
And Caesar’s an order of salad.
I think you need to start a poetry club too!
LEARN ABOUT THE LIFESTYLE AT INSPĪR
From the moment we’re born, new experiences are key to our growth as individuals. That’s why they’re intrinsic to life and the continued well-being of our residents at Inspīr Carnegie Hill. We bring fresh programs and perspectives from a variety of engagement partners to support our philosophy of caring for the whole self. Engage in therapeutic programs, educational workshops, music, film, entertainment, and more at Inspīr.