Aileen Gaddi has over a decade of experience working at senior living communities, and currently works at Regency Palms Long Beach, in Long Beach, California, as Life Enrichment Director. She started as Activity Director, then transitioned to the Memory Care Director position. Finally, two years ago she took on her current role of Life Enrichment Director at Regency Palms Long Beach. The Life Enrichment Director role holds the same responsibilities as Activity Director: scheduling engaging plans for elders in the community.
“I love our Sky Lounge where we overlook downtown Long Beach,” Aileen said about her favorite part of her community, “We do lots of luncheons, happy hours, campfires and s’mores…” Additionally, Aileen said, “I also love the set-up of our high-rise building,” which provides the residents with both a community and personal privacy.
During the pandemic, Conversations to Remember contacted Aileen through Regency Palms Long Beach to arrange weekly video calls with the residents at the community. “I thought, this is a great opportunity for our residents to connect to the next generation and share their wisdom,” Aileen said. Her favorite part of the Conversations to Remember program, she said, is “connecting our residents with the students who have the same interests, then witnessing how our residents respond and get excited to get their weekly calls.”
Aileen said her previous work as a school counselor prepared her for her role as Life Enrichment Director. In both roles, Aileen had to work with people and guide them. In terms of working with senior residents, Aileen is able to use her guidance, gained in both previous work and during her time as Life Enrichment Director, to help residents “realize that life not at all bad being in an assisted living community.”
“When my residents appreciate me and tell me I did a great job in some programs, that means I made a difference and made them happy,” Aileen said. She said she actively strives to make a positive impact on the residents living in her community.
Furthermore, Aileen has seen Conversations to Remember have an impact on senior residents as well. “The impact of Conversations to Remember is that the residents are looking forward to these conversations with the students,” she said, “they were adopted by the residents as their family members.” The weekly video calls between students and residents not only gives residents something to look forward to, it also gives them a sense of community outside their residential area.
In terms of advice for others communicating and interacting with seniors in assisted living or memory care communities, Aileen said that “building relationships… should be based on trust. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you are serving, we have the same goals – to make a difference in their lives, to give them purpose every day, to believe in them and to love them without expecting anything in return.”