Conversations About Aging: Donato Tramuto

Rural Aging Summit Portland Maine

In late August 2018, I attended the tail end of a conference about rural aging. What I learned led to an exciting new Catching Health podcast series — which I am launching with this episode.

I decided to call the podcast Conversations About Aging because that’s exactly what I’ll be doing with people all across the state of Maine. I plan to travel as much of the state as I can (islands included) and interview people 60 and older about their perspectives on aging.

It was a man by the name of Donato Tramuto who inspired me to embark on this adventure. He’s the CEO of Tivity Health, which co-sponsored the conference. When I spoke to Donato at the conference he told me that loneliness was THE chronic health condition of this century. He shared a personal story about his mother’s decline after his father died. We talked about the issue of loneliness among older people living in Maine, the nation’s most rural state.

I wrote a blog post about the conference and couldn’t stop thinking about the issue. I thought about my grandmother and the time she burst into tears in the grocery store soon after my grandfather died. About how she and I lived together for two years when I attended college. We’d watch the Lawrence Welk Show together while feasting on her freshly baked hot milk cake topped with vanilla ice cream. I thought about the friendship I had with an elderly neighbor for several years before she died — the great stories she told me, the trip we took to visit her cousins in Vermont, the jelly glasses of warm whiskey we shared one New Year’s Eve. I thought about Fred Hale, a man I wrote about a few times when I was on Channel 6. The last time I saw him he was in a rehab facility recovering from a broken hip. He complained that everyone there was “so old” and he had no one to talk to. He was about 102 at the time.

I thought about my own situation as a writer who, until recently, worked solely from home. I appreciate the solitude but it can be very, very quiet and very, very lonely and so, I’m now in a co-working situation. I also thought about how much I enjoy hearing and telling people’s stories — that’s when I had my aha moment about doing this podcast.

In the first episode, I explain a little bit more about the podcast and acknowledge some of the people who are helping to make it possible. I also interview Donato Tramuto — he talks about the conference and the issue of loneliness, and he also gets personal about his own life.

Listen to the podcast

If you prefer reading instead of listening …

Links/organizations mentioned in the interview

Who’s next?

Conversations About Aging will air every other Monday beginning today, February 11, 2019. My next conversation is with Leona, who is 92 and struggling with macular degeneration, the major cause of blindness in older people.

If you have any suggestions for people I should consider interviewing or want to let me know about a helpful aging resource in your community, let me know. In addition to the podcast, I intend to blog about what various communities, organizations, and individuals are doing to provide services, support, and connection.

And if you’re interested in helping to build community around this podcast, please share the episodes. Feel free to also suggest other ways we might share these stories. The best way to get in touch is to send me an email. Thank you!

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.