Dr. Ruth Westheimer

November 1, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.
Dr. Ruth recently interacted with local seniors in a moderated question-and-answer webinar with Holden of Bellevue Retirement Living
Dr. Ruth recently interacted with local seniors in a moderated question-and-answer webinar with Holden of Bellevue Retirement Living

...submitted by Holden of Bellevue 

Do you remember Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the little grandma who embarrassed and thrilled us all by talking about sex?

Dr. Ruth was a sex therapist whose career as a media personality began when she hosted a radio show, Sexually Speaking, starting in 1980. Dr. Ruth has since hosted several series on the Lifetime Channel and is the author of 45 books— not just about sex, but about aging and caregiving too.

Dr. Ruth, who is an unbelievable 93 years old, is in great health and is as sharp-witted as you remember her. She is still teaching classes at Columbia University and enjoys life with her family, which includes four grandchildren.

Dr. Ruth was also a holocaust survivor, the only child of Orthodox Jews. She had an idyllic childhood in Bavaria until her father was taken from her in 1938 by the Nazi’s a week after Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in 1938. Her grandmother handed the Nazis money and asked that he be taken care of, but he was murdered in Auschwitz. Her mother was also later killed. Because of the growing violence and tension, her mother and grandmother made the decision to send Ruth to Switzerland. She never saw her family again. At age 10, she arrived at the orphanage of a Jewish charity in Heiden and took on the role of mother figure to the children there.

When WWII ended, she immigrated to British-controlled Mandatory Palestine, where she joined the resistance army. Because of her small size, she was trained as a scout and sniper. She was ultimately struck by a cannonball that ripped through her legs.

“But a German Jewish surgeon fixed me so that I was able to ski all my life—I was a black-diamond skier—and to dance the whole night,” reported Dr. Ruth.
Her story is the stuff of a Hollywood movie, but it’s all true.

Dr. Ruth now has a documentary about her amazing life, Ask Dr. Ruth, that was released to HULU.

Back in 2021, Holden of Bellevue Retirement Living invited Dr. Ruth for a moderated question-and-answer webinar with a live audience. Her advice to seniors from this event was featured in a two-part series.

“We set up a podium with a computer and Dr. Ruth talked to us on a big screen. Every person in the room had a chance to ask her questions. She was mesmerizing and vibrant. Listening to her voice, you would think she was still in her 50s,” said Michelle Strazis, Executive Director at Holden of Bellevue.

The topic of the webinar was caregiving. “We were thrilled to have her, although all of us were concerned the topic would swiftly change from caregiving to sex, but when it happened, we were having too much fun to stop her,” said Jennifer Angell, Marketing Director at Holden of Bellevue.

“There must have been at least 20 plugs for her documentary, and our room filled with laughter,” said Colette Keogh, the community’s marketing director.

Dr. Ruth spoke to the seniors in the room about “Joie De Vivre,” or zest for life. There is no doubt that Dr. Ruth possesses this zest. She tells seniors to say something positive when you get on the phone with your relatives, and not to talk about all your aches, pains and illnesses. “Nobody wants to hear to it,” advises Dr. Ruth. She claims that she has no time for tired people. “See a doctor or take a nap!”

Dr. Ruth's event at Holden of Bellevue entertained and was full of good advice for seniors. Dr. Ruth tells seniors that when you have a caregiver come to your home, do not say you are fine—speak the truth about your condition and don’t be afraid to tell them you need help.

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