Charlie Ritter, a resident of Lantern Hill, the Erickson Senior Living community in New Providence, N.J., likes to stay informed about current events.
"I read the New York Times every day. I like to know what's going on in the world. Especially with politics--there's never a dull moment," he says, with a laugh.
So, when Charlie heard about the community's twice-a-month current events roundtable discussion, he was intrigued.
"The roundtables are great," he says. "Topics covered at the sessions cover all kinds of news and events, not just politics. If there is a landslide in Malaysia, the moderator will discuss it, and we also cover local news. I like the Q&A session in the last 10 minutes; it can get pretty spirited."
An engaged audience
To help facilitate the current events roundtable discussions, Lantern Hill invited Todd Goodman, a seasoned journalist whose career spans both radio and television--most notably as a writer and producer for MSNBC and NBC News in New York--to campus three years ago.
Goodman also moderates discussions at Seabrook, the Erickson Senior Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J.
"As a career journalist, I thought current events would be interesting. Plus, there is always new material to discuss, and I believed it would be more engaging for the residents. The response has been great," says Goodman, noting that each session draws about 75 residents.
When addressing sensitive issues such as politics, Goodman aims to keep the discussion cordial and respectful.
"It helps to take a historical angle," he explains. "For example, when discussing gun safety, I played a clip from an All in the Family episode where the characters were talking about gun control. It shows that we have been addressing the same topics for over 50 years. We discuss real issues, but we try to leave politics out."
Other recent topics have included the autoworkers' strike and the differences and similarities between Russia today and the former Soviet Union.
Lots to learn
Goodman also uses photos and videos from a range of news outlets to show different angles in his presentations. During a recent roundtable, he displayed decades-worth of front pages from the New York Times.
His objective world view is widely appreciated. "I'm impressed that he is able to stay neutral and keep the discussions polite," Charlie notes.
From his perspective, Goodman enjoys the lively dialogue that arises, especially around local issues.
"Wind farms off the New Jersey coast and the cleanup of local Superfund sites are of great interest," he explains. "The residents at Lantern Hill are incredibly smart and attentive; it's by far the most engaged group I moderate."
He jokes, "I feel like Phil Donohue sometimes, running around with my microphone trying to keep up with their questions!"
Many residents are also interested in learning about subjects they may not be as familiar with, such as the rising issues surrounding artificial intelligence.
In addition to the sessions moderated by Goodman, Charlie recently attended a lecture given by Phil Mundo, a professor at nearby Drew University that was held at Lantern Hill.
"It was fascinating. He talked about how today's political parties were formed, reminding us how the two parties used to work together--something that sadly is lacking now," Charlie says, recalling how Tip O'Neill, former Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and former President Ronald Reagan worked together to discover solutions to national issues--despite their differences.
More to explore
Believe it or not, Charlie's involvement in current events programming at Lantern Hill is just one facet of his busy lifestyle.
When he first began researching his senior living options as a widower, he knew he wanted to live in a continuing care retirement community. Lantern Hill's range of quality health care services, proximity to family, and variety of activities were exactly what he was looking for.
Now, Charlie likes to play bocce and spend time in the fitness and aquatics center. "I recently increased my swimming distance to one mile," he notes.
He also loves to travel; something he's especially enjoyed since he met neighbor Arlene Rudin at Lantern Hill. Since then, the two have traveled to South America and taken a European cruise.
"Last fall, we did a 20-day trip to Asia, including a 15-day cruise to explore Tokyo, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Okinawa, and Vietnam," adds Charlie. "Now, we are looking at where to go next … maybe the Galapagos Islands!"
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