In a recent conversation with Janet Baker, the Executive Director of the Kansas City Shepherd Center, we gained insight into the empowering approach taken by this non-profit organization, that has been serving older adults since 1972. The Shepherd Center's mission is clear: to keep older adults engaged, active, and purposeful as they age.
Self-Determination and Program Development: The Heart of the Shepherd Center
Janet shared that the Shepherd Center stands out for its unique approach that involves engaging older adults in self-determination and program development. It's about empowering seniors to have a say in their lives and the services offered. This approach not only fosters independence but creates a sense of purpose, vital for healthy aging.
Combatting Social Isolation: A Critical Issue
The conversation delved into one of the most pressing issues affecting older adults today – social isolation. Particularly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation has been linked to cognitive decline and dementia. Janet and Anne discussed how the Shepherd Center is actively addressing this issue through various programs.
Meals on Wheels and Phone Pals: Connecting and Supporting Seniors
The Shepherd Center offers programs like Meals on Wheels, ensuring that seniors have access to proper nutrition. They also facilitate "phone pals," providing companionship through regular phone conversations. These initiatives have been a lifeline for many during the pandemic.
The Rising Challenge: Dementia During COVID-19
Janet shared concerns about the increased incidence of dementia among older adults during the pandemic. The Shepherd Center is committed to not only providing support but also raising awareness about this issue.
Facing Challenges Head-On
The conversation also shed light on the challenges the Shepherd Center faces, especially in terms of limited funding for older adult support. Despite this, they are determined to make a difference in the lives of seniors.
A Call to Action: Volunteer and Support
Both Janet and Anne emphasize the importance of community involvement. They encourage people to volunteer and support organizations like the Shepherd Center. It's not just about enhancing the quality of life for seniors but also enriching our own lives through these connections.
The conversation with Janet Baker offers a glimpse into the remarkable work being done at the Kansas City Shepherd Center and the broader Shepherd Center network. It underscores the value of self-determination, the significance of combating social isolation, and the need for support in these challenging times.
We invite you to consider how you can make a difference. Whether it's through volunteering, raising awareness, or providing support, together, we can empower older adults to age with dignity, purpose, and independence.