Educational Opportunities

Educational Opportunities at Elderwise fall into two categories:

  • The Elderwise Philosophy and
  • Conscious Aging

Elderwise began in 1997 with a set of new, untested ideas that rang true to us. We set about testing them in our day program. Fifteen years later, they have been proven and fine-tuned from the experience of running our adult day and outreach programs. In 2006, as interest in our approach grew, we began teaching parts of the philosophy including such topics as:

  • Who are you if you have Dementia?
  • The Developmental Psychology of Aging
  • The Twelve Senses
  • Working with the Whole Person

We are currently taking a one year sabbatical from teaching in order to capture these ideas in writing. Our goal is to share this philosophy with a greater number of health care professionals and personal partners.

Conscious Aging at Elderwise

Conscious Aging at Elderwise is based on the ideas of Rabbi Zalmon Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Spiritual Eldering Institute, now transformed into the Sage-ing® Guild. These ideas are for all those interested in reflecting on their own aging.

Elderwise hosts monthly facilitated conversations on aging for the Northwest Center for Creative Aging. Participants engage in conversations about their own aging and what they are discovering about their lives. Reservations are required; please contact Jan Frederick (, Executive Director for the Northwest Center for Creative Aging, to reserve a spot or find out more information.

For more information on the teaching programs, please contact Sandy Sabersky (

The Elderwise Way

Happy to be together…naturally. Elderwise - Sharing a mealPeople began arriving a little before 10 am. Les came in first and focused on the table settings and where the nametags were placed, commenting with an air of expectation about the number of people who would soon be arriving. When Ben arrived next, Les welcomed him, showing him his place and pulling out his chair for him. They chatted together about who was coming and where they would all sit. As more people arrived, they were each welcomed by those already at the table. They were served coffee or tea, and peanut butter toast with jam, as they continued to talk about where the late comers were, and were clearly happy and reassured as the table gradually filled up. The feeling of genuine contentment surrounded the group when we were all accounted for at the table and our community was full for the day.

Later in the morning a visitor arrived to pick up her husband’s paintings who was not known to most of the people. When she entered, one of the gentlemen stood to shake her hand and welcome her, and then another did the same thing, followed by a third.

Our daily regular activities create the consistent, compassionate, welcoming environment that contributes to the joy and shared camaraderie of being together.

The Future of Aging in Our Community

Here in the Puget Sound regions and throughout the nation, we are witnessing an explosion of baby boomers reaching retirement. An increasing number of this generation will be affected by dementia and other frailties. The quality of life for these elders and their families will be determined by how well community services and programs are prepared to respond to their needs. Sandy Sabersky, Executive Director, Elderwise

We believe that a spirit-centered program – one that enriches the lives of older adults in our community and allows them to age in place and remain independent longer – is an essential element of wellness. We predict that this approach will be increasingly recognized. We already see a change in attitude towards aging in our region, as well as nationwide.

Elderwise is playing a central role in the (r)evolution of elder care, drawing on more than 15 years experience. We have earned a reputation as a local leader in thoughtful, enriching, adult day programs, filling a critical gap in local services for older adults by offering a trusted solution for families.

Our vision is that one day all adults will have the opportunity to interact in stimulating, creative and supportive communities throughout their life. In this way, we can share wisdom and respect, and co-create community. I hope you will join Elderwise in this vision to transform the culture of aging.

Sincerely, Sandy Sabersky, Founding Director

What is Spirit-centered Care?

Service of elders at ElderwiseFor many years, the concept of person-centered care has been generally accepted in the long term care community. This is a huge improvement over body-centered care which focused only on the physical needs of a person - their need to be bathed, fed and medically treated. It represented an important evolution from the earlier approach of facility-centered care which considered only the benefits to the organization and the staff schedules for caring for these bodily needs. Person-centered care considers the individual and his or her preferences. It considers when someone might want to get up, what they might like for breakfast and even when or if they want to eat breakfast. In addition, persons are given choices regarding their life style, activities and social opportunities. It represents important progress in allowing for and acknowledging who a person is and permitting the continuity of their life. Person-centered care goes deeper towards the essence of who a person really is.

The next step in the evolution of how the long term care community treats and interacts with people is Spirit-centered Care. It is at the core of our Elderwise programs. At Elderwise, we act on the belief that as we consider an individual’s needs in terms of preferences, we can go even deeper. We can go all the way to a person’s essence or central truth, and address them and work with them in this way. It is not about a particular religious belief or tradition. In spirit-centered care, we acknowledge and address the wholeness of all individuals. Whether you have a physical or cognitive change, the essence of who we are is the same. This is the foundation of the Elderwise philosophy and affects and informs our moment to moment interactions with people.