Once a week, Joan Ziegler meets with Ruth Moyer at The Virginian senior living facility in Fairfax to discuss who will be interviewed for the center’s weekly "Channel Two News" program.
"What we try and do is to bring our residents people who they want to know about, people that they can learn interesting things from," said Ziegler, producer of the 30-minute show and special assistant to the activities director at The Virginian. "It’s all about bringing in the people that will make this program fresh and exciting for the residents."
With past guests such as Robert Barron, a former CIA disguise artist, veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Levy and Bryan Cooke from the Fairfax City Bomb Squad, the little activity room that acts as a studio on the second floor of The Virginian has seen its fair share of notable visitors.
"We find them from reading newspapers, magazines, seeing things on TV," said Ziegler. "I like to keep my ear to the ground and see what I can find out there that might be an interesting subject."
MOST RECENTLY, the approximately 350 residents of The Virginian played host to author and senior psychologist Dr. Dorree Lynn, who shared with Moyer, the show’s lead anchor and 89-year-old resident of The Virginian, some tips about caring for a sick loved one.
A featured author in The Senior Beacon newspaper, Zielger was instantly interested in attracting Lynn to Moyer’s interview chair.
"A lot of people who retire, they get stuck with a lot of questions and I think that she’s a great person to come here and speak about those issues," Ziegler said. "She’s one part of the greater mission that we have here with this show, and that is making sure that everyone who comes on here has something that they can offer to us and our lives."
Lynn, who normally speaks to large audiences, saw the opportunity to come to The Virginian as a way to not only spread the message in her new book for senior caregivers, "When the Man you Love is Ill," but a chance to show how America’s growing senior population has adopted new lifestyles.
"Seniors, they’re no longer people who go out on an ice floe and people forget about them," said Lynn, in a phone interview. "They’re exciting and they’re out there doing amazing things and their secret is about remaining interested in the world and life and remaining active."
THAT ACTIVE lifestyle and desire to remain involved in projects is exactly what drove Moyer to spearhead the weekly news program seven years ago.
A former college speech major, Moyer never had the opportunity to fulfill her dreams of becoming a radio announcer before moving to The Virginian, and saw the prospect of bringing engaging interviews into residents’ lives as one worth the effort.
"I couldn’t just sit here holding my hand and watching TV all day, I’d lose my mind," Moyer said. "That was the main thing in this, going in to go to bed and having something to do when you wake up."
Paying attention to passion and focusing in on the tasks that are fulfilling has been very important to Ziegler and the rest of the residents involved in the news program.
"I think that doing these things is what keeps us vibrant and alive, and that’s something that is increasingly important as you get older," Ziegler said. "And I think that it says that 93 [years-old], 95, 89, we are hip, we’re interested, we’re curious, we’re not just going to sit around and do nothing."