Special Place For Elders

Elanda Most Elders were working on yarn tissue boxes and each had their own art box and supplies to work from.

The Zuni Adult Day Center and the Senior Center are both special places for the aging residents of the Zuni Pueblo.

We recently visited with Erika, our partner at the Zuni Adult Day Care Center. She was busy with the thirteen Elders who were working on their different art projects before lunch.

Most were working on yarn tissue boxes and each had their own art box and supplies to work from, but they had the choice of what they wanted to work on.

The center was infused with the Elder’s artwork and Erika was always so proud of their projects. Even the windows were painted with colorful flowers and humming birds to liven up the facility. Placemats with their names were also created by each Elder, which made clean-up after the meal service a bit easier for the staff.

Photo of Mita Mita is a Zuni Elder who has been part of the Senior Center since its inception.

Normally, the Day Care Elders would move to the Senior Center building for their mealtimes to socialize with the other Elders that came in for their meals. This hasn’t been the case over the past couple of years, because the Senior Center was the unfortunate victim of a flash flood in 2014 and the building was condemned. The old building was only a stone’s throw away from the Adult Day Care Center, but one building was flooded and the other was left untouched. A new facility is nearing completion and will be located on the other side — away from the flood areas. Of all the amazing design elements the new facility will have, Erika is especially grateful for the covered walkway that leads from the Day Care Center into the Senior Center. Erika added, “It means a lot to us.”

Mita is a Zuni Elder who has been part of the Senior Center since its inception. During our visit, Mita approached us and shared her involvement with both centers. She said, “I’m always the one to talk to visitors!”

She recalled when the old director had approached her and asked for her help in recruiting Elders to register for the services. Her mind was crisp and she clearly remembered the conversations that she had when they began to talk about the location of the facility, and the challenges the land may have if flash floods were to occur. Flash flooding wreaks havoc on homes and communities in the southwest and the monsoon season makes planning for facilities even more important.

Mealtime The art projects were carefully set aside, the food was carefully placed on plates and served to the Elders.

Fast forward to 2014 — the Senior Center was hit with a flash flood and the building was ultimately condemned. Mita was glad that the Day Care Center was not affected, but her face expressed the sad acknowledgment of the other building’s fate.

Mita was registered to receive Adult Day Care services, but the Senior Center usually provided the meals for the Elders. They were all looking forward to the new facility being completed so they could re-join the “young Elders” for their noontime meals.

Once the food was delivered from the temporary modular unit used by the Senior Center, the art projects were carefully set aside, the food was carefully placed on plates and served to the Elders.

Once the new Senior Center is open, it will provide the environment that all the Elders miss. Eating together and socializing with friends and family make this center a special space for both the younger and older Elders!

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