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CareLink’s “Wisdom for Living” program for older adults challenges the mind, nurtures the spirit

CareLink RI, a statewide nonprofit healthcare network of post-acute providers and community-based programs for older adults, has introduced a new program as part of its health and wellness services called “Wisdom for Living” – a life enrichment discussion group for participants to share their thoughts, be listened to, and find meaning and purpose in this chapter of their lives.

“This program challenges the mind and nurtures the spirit, which are two things that help promote social and mental wellness,” states Dr. Michelle Meunier, CareLink wellness manager, who notes that Wisdom for Living is for older adults living in the community or in settings such as senior housing, assisted living, long-term care, adult day health, or senior centers throughout Rhode Island. “Older adults today are looking for programs that challenge their mind and promote wellness. This program addresses life changes in a therapeutic and life-affirming way.” 

Benefits of CareLink’s Wisdom for Living Program Include Opportunities to:
• Explore various aspects of personal development and decision making skills
• Learn strategies to navigate life’s challenges while building relationships with others
• Find the meaning and purpose within the current phase of life
• Develop meaningful pursuits with positive health and wellness outcomes
• Build community and improve social connections

Led by CareLink licensed and trained clinicians, Wisdom for Living facilitates deeper conversations beyond the traditional ‘hello, how are you doing’ surface interactions. Program outcomes can reduce social isolation and loneliness which have been closely linked to improved physical and mental health. Building social connections through shared life stories and experiences often leads to feelings of enhanced wellness, empowerment and validation among participants. 

Providence resident Gwenette Kangis created the Wisdom for Living program in 2013, several years after her husband, Plato, passed away. Seeking meaningful work and drawing on her experience working for eight years as a companion for elders living at home, she recognized that, despite the inevitable limitations of aging, older adults still want to live as vital a life as possible. With a master’s degree in psychology and religion, she was inspired to create an educational, therapeutic and affirming program for seniors that incorporated body, mind and spirit.

Beyond bingo or bridge

“Bingo and bridge have their place, but for a life well-lived, the spirit needs to be nurtured. This is why I founded Wisdom for Living,” states Kangis. “CareLink has been a blessing and I feel certain that in keeping Wisdom for Living growing, my legacy will keep going. In addition, I believe they will continue to work diligently to help others find renewed meaning, purpose and insight to live a fulfilling, happy life despite the challenges and changes that this life chapter brings.”

Four members of CareLink’s clinical therapy team were recently trained as facilitators by Kangis: Kathleen Cassino, of Smithfield, certified occupational therapy assistant; Tina Randall, of Warwick, physical therapy assistant; Dr. Michelle Meunier, of Cumberland,wellness program manager; and Michele Cornwell, of South Kingstown, wellness lead clinical trainer.

The program curriculum is flexible as each discussion group determines its size and when and how often it prefers to meet. Typically, sessions last 45-60 minutes and involve 12-14 residents. Current participating facilities offering Wisdom for Living group sessions to their residents:

Tockwotton on the Waterfront, East Providence

Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Providence

The Village at Waterman Lake, Greenville

For more information on CareLink’s Wisdom for Living program, contact Dr. Michelle Meunier at [email protected].

Established in 1997, CareLink Rhode Island is a nonprofit network of post-acute and community-based providers and direct care staff serving adults with complex health issues. Its membership base includes home care, hospice, adult day health, long-term care, assisted living, short-term and outpatient rehabilitation, and independent living providers throughout Rhode Island. CareLink, Inc. is located at 400 Massasoit Avenue, Suite 300 in East Providence, RI 02914; phone: 401.490.7610; web: www.carelinkri.org

Photo, top: “Wisdom for Living” facilitators, from left to right: Kathleen Cassino, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant; Tina Randall, Physical Therapy Assistant; Gwen Kangis, Founder of Wisdom for Living; Dr. Michelle Meunier, Wellness Program Manager; and Michele Cornwell, Lead Clinical Trainer – Wellness

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2 Comments

  1. Joyce Guarnieri on July 13, 2024 at 3:19 pm

    So glad that CareLink will carry on with this wonderful service and program, created by Gwenette Kangis. It addresses an often-forgotten need at a very special phase of life. Should I find myself with such a need at the next phase of my ‘senior hood’, I would be thankful to have a program such as “Wisdom for Living’ available to me. Congratulations to all!

  2. Marina Thouin on July 13, 2024 at 8:41 am

    Congratulations to Gwenette Kangis for her inspiring contribution!

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