I. How would you describe the Wisdom Keepers program to a friend?
DW: Our wisdom keepers come here to socialize, to dance, to share stories and to visit with each other. Many of them don’t want to leave here by the end of the day because we offer a space where we are actively building community. The program provides a safe haven for elders. When they come we make sure they have the right nutrition, and that their needs are met. We help them sign up for their benefits, many don’t know they are eligible for benefits, we get them transportation if they need it. We keep them comfortable and have meals for them through the San Joaquin Dept of Aging they get meals three days a week. Meals are approved by a dietician. They will also start receiving commodities like fresh food and milk once a month on the third Friday. We will also be opening this up to the public so as our seniors are taken care of, we are also serving our community.
II. Why do you think it is important for our elders to be taken care of, and why is the work important to you personally?
DW: Our elders are an important part of our community, they are our wisdom keepers. As we grow and age, we all keep changing. Sometimes people can push their loved ones away when they see them changing, they are scared for what it might mean for them now and in the future. Too few people want to work with our elders. As they age, they can become more stubborn, that requires patience and care to work with them. We have that here. For me, I know I will be an elder someday and I know how I want to be treated, that is how I treat our wisdom keepers. I believe that if I treat our elders well with care, patience, and kindness, I will get blessings from them that will also help me as I age. Some of these seniors have no family, they have no one checking up on them or that they can call as family. We had a few come in the last few weeks that had no family and were literally walking around so they wouldn’t be home alone and stumbled upon our center. We provided them a place to come, a place to have coffee, play bingo or dominoes, read or make art and do puzzles, play pool, so many things.
III. What can Stockton do to better take care of our elders?
DW: They need to recognize all of our elders in Stockton. Stockton should be aware of the Wisdom Keepers program and have more spaces like that for our elders. Wisdom Keepers is a place we can bring our elders to socialize, to do recreational activities, and come and socialize or vent while they are also having their needs taken care of.
IV. If you could dream out loud, what would you hope the Wisdom Keepers Program could grow into in say, 5 years?
DW: I hope it could become a full-time, adult day-healthcare center with a nurse on site all day, a clinician on site all day, with each senior coming in having a care plan that is revisited every six months. There could be occupational and physical therapy as well as art therapy and community and relationship building. The goal will be they come to the center and the care is comprehensive so they don’t have to go to several other places to receive services. If they had mental health issues we would ensure they are medication compliant. Our goal as a center would be to ensure our elders live healthy lives without hospitalization while they are attending our center.