Reviving interest in activity may need special inspiration during retirement years.
“Helping someone become more active is first about making a connection with the person,” emphasizes Patricia Naraindutt, 49, now in her 15th year at East Ridge where she directs activities at The Three Palms, a newly opened assisted living community residence.
“Connecting with people is at the heart of my job — discovering what will spark a new excitement for living,” she added.
Her engaging smile reflects her own spirit for life, often an inspiration in helping someone meet the challenge of aging.
Naraindutt’s personal warmth underlies a philosophy that interacts with such a refreshing spirit that by itself will often energize the most reticent newcomer to join a lively political discussion or begin exercising dormant limbs.
Reopening doors to create a zest for living is nothing new for Naraindutt, a who came to Florida from New Jersey to rejoin a large family.
“Eleven in all, that helped me become a people person,” she laughed, adding that strong “family feelings” became her part of her way to inspire retirees to embrace a new outlook on their own lives.
It’s been that way ever since she arrived at East Ridge at the turn of the century, volunteering at the community Home Health Care Center, a separate facility for residents and public care.
Commuting through traffic-clogged South Dade from her home in Homestead “is really no bother for me,” said Naraindutt who cheerfully tackles a daily whirlwind of events even as she raised Riva, 19, as a single mother before her daughter began pre-med studies in California this year.
On occasion, she’ll take a break to sing songs such as Linda Ronstadt’s Blue Bayou or Barbra Streisand’s version of I Am a Woman in Love, solos delighting residents at the April “Spring Concert” by East Ridge staffers, a yearly show she helps stage.
“Whether individually or in groups, people getting to know one another is what leads to making anyone feel at home,” she said. “Then, understanding those needs and interests opens the door to becoming active.”
It’s also why Naraindutt’s calendar of activities uses therapeutic techniques designed to encourage unknown talents in an art or craft class, or countering forgetfulness through playing memory games.
“I like to ask what someone might remember as a best moment in their life and, before you know, it that will open up a conversation with someone else who also enjoys the same author or classical music work — all leading to friendships that turn into enjoying activities together.”
Another favored tactic for the ladies is reciting recipe ingredients to jog a fading memory.
“It’s all part of opening each other’s lives by recalling special moments that very often will re-energize new outlooks on life,” she said.
“Whatever we do each day should help someone,” concluded Naraindutt, who has found her own answer to active living — sharing with others.