Eli Perez was a natural born singer, but fate would lead him to change professions,and one that would become his calling. He wanted to make a difference and decided to work with seniors from across San Antonio.
A senior citizen in his own right, 62 year-old Perez says he went from playing in concerts across the country in front of “teeny-boppers” to crowds of elderly folks.
“I wanted to do something meaningful in life, and there aren’t enough people who pay attention to the senior citizens in this city,” Perez said. “It takes a special type of person to work with them…. You need patience, a lot of patience and a big heart.”
Perez is an employee at the Franklin Park Stone Oak Living and Assisted Living Community; he says making each resident feel like they are truly taken care of both physically and emotionally is what sets him aside from the crowd.
“Getting closer to [Seniors]is tough, you’ve got to build their friendship and trust and sooner or later they will come along,” Perez said. “They know I won’t ever let them down…. I’m their family when they have no one else.”
The thing most senior citizens have in common is that they’re all, in some way, lonely, he said.
“They’ll tell me ‘my son’s not coming this week Eli’ and I’ll say ‘that’s ok I’ll be your son,’” Perez said. “They’ll hug me and laugh, they love that compassion.”
Perez says he’s always at work, because he loves it, saying it’s just as therapeutic for him as it is for the residents living in the assisted living community.
“You’ve got to win their attention once you do that they open up,” Perez said. “Nobody cares about seniors they just pass them up and put them in the corner and forget about that… and I want to fix that.”
As people get older, they have new fears and it’s everyone’s job to respect our elders, Perez said.
“I bring a lot of energy to this place, energy they need,” Perez said. “Places like this, that work with seniors need energy to put life back in them… they just want to be taken care of and feel important.”
Not everyone who comes to Franklin Park Stone Oak wants to be friends, but trying is my job, Perez said.
“In the final days they want to be happy and I want to make them happy, make them laugh and feel loved,” Perez said. “If hugging them everyday will make their final days happier, I’ll do it… so when they do pass I’ll know I’ve done all I can do.”