May is Older Americans Month, when we take time to pause and reflect on our senior’s remarkable achievements. Members of the Greatest Generation, whose courage and determination saw us through wars and economic recovery, they are now leaving what may be their biggest imprint on our culture—a new definition of aging in America.
They have lived their lives with honor, fortitude, and loyalty: High values that still guide them today as they reach well into their 90s. True trailblazers, they inspire our respect and admiration. Interested in social activities and demanding to stay productive and engaged, they are reshaping practices in the field of senior care, compelling a shift towards focus on personage. They are once again paving the way for the next generation, those who are quickly reaching their 70s: The Baby Boomers.
Friendship Center has been at the forefront of this shift towards person-centered care. Regarded as a model for quality adult day services, Friendship Center provides seniors with a culturally rich and fulfilling environment where each participant feels honored and appreciated and finds opportunities to stay active and social.
“We’ve been doing what we do best for the last 42 years,” says Heidi Holly, Friendship Center Executive Director. “Sharing the care with family caregivers so that their loved ones can remain at home as long as possible, and caregivers can receive much-needed respite.”
With two locations, Montecito and Goleta, Friendship Center offers cutting-edge programs that cultivate independence, self-worth, and social interaction. Activities are designed for a variety of interests and needs, including brain fitness workshops, music and arts, games, and entertainment. Participants are afforded the structure and encouragement they need to pursue their own interests in a safe, lively, and nurturing environment.
The caring and compassionate staff at Friendship Center is highly trained to motivate every participant to achieve their personal goals of engagement and fulfillment. These principals guide the core of Friendship Center’s high standards of care.
According to Kathryn Cherkas, Montecito Program Manager, each participant brings their own knowledge and experience to the program, as well as their unique personality.
“My heart feels absolutely full when I am at Friendship Center,” she said. “Our members have lived such amazing lives as veterans, homemakers, community leaders, and more. It is an honor, a privilege, and a joy to be able to care for them at this precious stage in their lives.” These sentiments are shared by all Friendship Center staff, volunteers, and supporters.
At Friendship Center, families caring for aging loved ones find the necessary assistance to support them to age in their own homes, which is across the board their strongest wish. They do not want to be placed in an institution, and regular attendance in Friendship Center programs has been reported to delay the need for institutional placement for an average of three years!
The legacy of the Greatest Generation is still unfolding. They have made this a better world, and are now inspiring higher standards of senior care. Future generations will benefit from their wisdom and determination, and Friendship Center is honored to champion their values. The Santa Barbara community will continue to have in Friendship Center a haven for senior development, engagement, and personal achievement. And seniors will continue to find in Friendship Center a place where they are cherished, honored, and cared for with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Written by Luciana Mitzkun, Family Services Director