Creating Life-enriching Activities for Today’s Senior Communities
October 18, 2021
Hosted by Ron Roel
For many older Americans, moving to an assisted living community offers a bridge between aging in place with occasional—but not really enough—socialization, and starting another phase in life, exploring new relationships and being engaged in activities suited to their needs. But how can families choose recreational programs that they believe will truly enhance the lives of our loved ones? In today’s episode, Maria Leonardo, who has spent several decades as a professional working specialist in the field of life enrichment programs and activities for seniors, will talk about her wide-ranging career and insights. Maria has planned, designed and implemented original programming, monthly calendars, special events and newsletters for numerous adult care, including independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. She’ll explain how activity and recreational professionals work together with families and staff to discover and maximize the positive abilities of residents—"to meet people where they are,” as she says. Maria, who also has an eclectic background in adult ed teaching and communications (she is a voice-over talent, having created and voiced numerous radio commercials), will describe how this influence shaped some innovative programs she created in adult communities across Florida and New York: Programs that cross into the generational divide, like a senior girl scout group that joined with a local girl scout troop in activities like making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches together. Reading programs with school kids of different ages and art projects with preschoolers. Programs commemorating 9/11 program, with thought-provoking, personal questions for both young and old about how to achieve peace in the world. Programs that let kids find out about senior residents, and residents find out about kids—the hope for our future. Maria will also talk about what families need to watch for when checking out the life enrichment programs of prospective communities—a chance a chance to experience new things, whatever their abilities.
Monday at 12 Noon Pacific Time on VoiceAmerica Variety Channel
Thanks to advances in medicine and health, most of us are just at half-life when we reach our mid-40s, with many potentially productive years ahead. But there’s no road map to prepare us for this period. That’s where 45 Forward comes in.
My show provides you with strategies to shift the traditional waiting-for-retirement model to a journey of compelling life chapters. Each show tackles an aspect of health, finance, family and friends, housing, work and personal pursuits as part of an integrated plan. Experts discuss topics like revitalizing relationships, creating mini-retirements, managing the maze of technology, finding your next homestead and caring for aging parents.
The show instills confidence, and hopefully some comfort, amid the stresses permeating today’s society. Fear of the future is not knowing how to prepare for it. 45 Forward does not proffer prefabricated answers, but helps you shape your life amid the daily anxieties of our time.
I’m a veteran journalist who spent a wide-ranging career covering business, politics and social issues, the last two decades focusing on the blend of diverse life skills I call successful aging.
I have written extensively on aging topics, spoken at conferences, radio and TV shows, and launched several entrepreneurial ventures, discovering along the way that the path to aging well also requires an unexpected entrepreneurial vision. I spent 20 years as a writer and editor at Long Island’s daily newspaper, Newsday, helping to found Act 2, a weekly section for 50-plus readers. I created Roelresources.com, a website offering practical advice and inspirational essays for people ages 40 and above. I have been a volunteer and consultant to AARP Long Island, writing articles, advocating for seniors, and developing action plans for the AARP Age-Friendly Communities initiative.
I am active in programs and organizations that support seniors, such as the National Aging In Place Council and the Senior Umbrella Network. I have developed a special expertise in family caregiving, as one of four brothers who took care of their mother for almost 25 years. I regularly collaborate with many professionals who provide services and support for older Americans, and I am completing a book for caregivers on Long Island, “The Caregiving Navigator/How to Plan, What to do, and Where to Turn When Caring for you Aging Loved Ones. And Yourself,” scheduled for publication in early 2021.