[ HAWAII AT WORK ]
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Linda Adamson is drawing on her lifetime of experiences -- including dancing, photography, traveling, recruiting and running her own business ---- to arrange activities for the residents of Kahala Nui, a senior-living community that opened two years ago. Above, Adamson sat last week in the lobby of the senior residence. CLICK FOR LARGE
Life is grand for Kahala Nui's lifestyle director
Linda Adamson says her whole life has been preparation for her current job
LINDA Adamson has led a varied life, and it all seems to have come together for her as lifestyle director at Kahala Nui, where she coordinates recreational activities for several hundred residents of the senior-living community, which she joined shortly after it opened in early 2005.
Adamson previously had been an entrepreneur for 20 years in Hawaii as owner of Ho'olauna, selling promotional products. Before that, she had lived in New York City for 20 years, but moved to Hawaii in 1986 after coming here to visit her father, Keith Adamson, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer who was working at the East-West Center.
Who: Linda Adamson|
Title: Director of lifestyle
Job: Arranges activities and events for residents of Kahala Nui
"I came out to visit, inhaled three times and went, 'Oh God.' we just loved it. So we moved here," she recalled.
In New York, Adamson was a ballet dancer, then a stringer photographer, then a headhunter seeking programmers from England to work at financial firms on Wall Street.
She also is widely traveled, starting as a child when her father was stationed in countries such as Egypt and Turkey (her mother was a teacher). As an adult, Adamson also lived six months in Paris and visited England many times when she was recruiting programmers.
Adamson is a graduate of McLean High School in McLean, Va. She also attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., before heading off to the Big Apple. She is divorced, has a 24-year-old daughter and lives in Makiki.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Linda Adamson's responsibilities as director of lifestyle at Kahala Nui include putting together the senior-living community's televised newsletter, which she does on her computer in her office. CLICK FOR LARGE
First of all, what is a senior-living community, which is how Kahala Nui describes itself?
Linda Adamson: Right. The term I'd like you to use is a CCRC, which stands for continuing-care retirement community. And it's a particular category of retirement community.
Q: And what category is that?
A: It means that when someone moves in here, they move into independent living initially.
We have an entire area for independent-living people. What they're doing essentially is buying long-term care. When the time comes, if they need a different level of care -- that is to say, assisted care or nursing -- they can move to those areas right here at Kahala Nui, which is the Hi'olani Care Center at Kahala Nui.
Q: How many people live at Kahala Nui?
A: In the independent-living side there are 372, and in the medical building, which is not my area or expertise, there are approximately 160.
Q: So to finally get around to asking about your job, what are your responsibilities as the community's director of lifestyles?
A: (Laughter) Yes, I'm the director of lifestyle, but only for the independent-living side, for these 372 people. And it means that I create a program that includes exercise, lectures, music, dancing, crafts, ukulele lessons, Mandarin language, Japanese language, computer training, play reading, ... you have to tell me when to stop.
Q: Well, that's good enough. I get the idea.
A: To summarize, it's a program that affects all areas of interest.
Are you like a physical trainer?
A: No, I'm not. I'm just the director of the programs. There are 20 contracted instructors that teach the programs.
Q: Are you like an events coordinator?
A: Well, I decide what we're going to do. I hire the entertainment, I schedule the film screenings, I set up the entertainment programs, the parties.
Q: Is there a movie theater there?
A: We have a large room that has a screen that comes down from the ceiling, so it's kind of like a movie theater.
We have approximately 150 different activities in a given month.
Q: Do you arrange excursions?
A: Yes. We have excursions off the property -- opera, symphonies, shopping trips, museums; it's different every month.
Q: Do you have a staff, or do you work only with the contracted instructors?
A: No, it's just me and the contracted staff.
I also am responsible for the in-house television channel. I do the screens for the channel myself. These are not moving screens. Like I'll advertise a party, or there's a new exercise class, or there's a fire drill next week. The in-house screens are one of our most important ways of communicating with our residents.
Q: Like what they have in hotel rooms, right?
A: Right. The other way we communicate is through our newsletter, and I also put that together.
Do you set up individual programs, or are these all group programs?
A: These are group programs, but having said that, one of the reasons we do this is so I can work closely with our residents, and they participate a lot. That is, for example, they are the guest speakers, or they know somebody they want to be the speaker. In short, the activities reflect the residents' interests and also reflect their participation -- teaching classes, speaking on things they know. They're hot. They are great.
Q: It's kind of broad question, but what kind of people live there?
A: They are what I love most about this job, no contest.
They are, as a group, active, participating, interested, appreciative, very participatory.
I have a very high degree of participation. When we do a chair-fitness program, five days a week, we have between 30 and 40 people show up. In our tai-chi class, we have twice that many. We have Iggy Chang come here to play the violin -- there's like a hundred people in the room. They're just wonderful to do things for.
Q: What's the average age, would you say?
A: I think our average age is 80. And our oldest resident is 96, in independent living. I think there are a couple of dozen people over 90.
Q: Have you formed close relationships with some of these folks?
A: Absolutely. My job would be a hollow shell without that. It wouldn't mean a thing. I feel like they work with me, and I work for them. It's very collaborative.
Q: Do you work with any disabled people?
A: No. If they were not able to care for themselves, they would not be in the independent living. Aches and pains, yes, but disabled, no.
Q: What kind of hours do you have to keep?
A: Oh God, I have absolutely no idea. I come in at 9 and I go home at 9. If there are evening programs, I come in; if there are weekend programs, I'm here. But don't make it sound like I'm abused, It's a lot of time but it balances out. I don't feel put upon at all. I really, really enjoy it, most sincerely.
Q: How did you get the job?
A: I came in a couple of months after they had opened (in early 2005). The program was just getting started. I interviewed for it.
Q: What's your background?
A: For the last 20 years, I've owned my own business, selling promotional products.
I'd never done anything like this before, but it seemed like I'd been preparing my whole life for this. It just seemed right from Day One. I had a mind for it, and I spent a lifetime of traveling and reading, and going to hear music, and it just all came into place here. And l love people. That helped.