Stop buying birthday cards that denigrate age. No more discussing your aches and pains. Drop the conditional phrase ‘for your age’. And if you have not heard of ikigai – the ideology that speaks to finding joy in life through having purpose that keeps you going each day – then take a lesson from the Japanese.
Cathleen Toomey says these are simple steps that can start to change the conversation in our country around aging. Toomey serves as the vice president of marketing for The RiverWoods Group, a family of charitable nonprofit continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) in New Hampshire. SENIORITY AUTHORITY is a co-production of NHPBS and RiverWoods and aims to help not only aging Granite Staters but also adult children who need more information on caring for their parents.
“Sadly, not everyone gets to age; it’s not a gift everyone gets to unwrap,” says Toomey. “We need to appreciate the fact that we’re here on this Earth, and we need to appreciate the life lessons, intellect, humor and perspectives of our older population.”
Toomey’s regular engagement with that population prompted her to launch the Seniority Authority podcast in the spring of 2021 – now totaling more than 70 episodes. Inspired by that informative content, New Hampshire PBS produced a series of short videos reflecting valuable lessons from the podcast. Now, on January 11th at 9 PM, SENIORITY AUTHORITY will premiere as a half-hour broadcast, with fundraising efforts underway to produce a 13-episode season.
Through a combination of expert interviews and feature segments profiling people in the community, the program will offer actionable suggestions, allowing viewers to get smarter about growing older.
Toomey knows the multitude of questions that arise about the aging process, from care navigation to the ramifications of social isolation and how to apply for Medicaid, as well as personal finances and the different types of memory loss.
“By the end of each episode, you should walk away with an understanding of what the issue is, how it could affect you and what you can do about it,” says Toomey. “Hopefully, viewers will bring these learnings into their daily practice and form new habits.”
Toomey regularly consults with researchers and experts and studies literature on aging. The importance of staying physically active is one topic Toomey intends to reinforce. “Older adults need to get as much sleep as they can, exercise as much as they can and stay social,” she says. “Look to your lifestyle first – before medications – and be willing to accept change.”
Staying active also means staying productive, and Toomey believes community leaders have a role in that.
“We need to invite older folks to fully participate in activities in our communities, whether it’s volunteering, teaching Sunday school or sharing lessons about entrepreneurship,” she explains. “But there are also opportunities for younger people to help by mentoring older adults on how to best use technology, for example.”
To learn more about SENIORITY AUTHORITY, visit nhpbs.org/seniorityauthority.
About New Hampshire PBS: New Hampshire PBS inspires one million Granite Staters each month with engaging and trusted local and national programs and services on-air, online, via mobile, in classrooms and in communities. Beyond its award-winning television programs, New Hampshire PBS is a leader in education and community engagement. www.nhpbs.org
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