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Couple's club for seniors
And now, 50 years on, it’s been a constant source of friendship and support through all the joys and sorrows of life. All are now in their 80s—or older— and their age-related challenges cover the entire continuum of care. But each of them has found a way to make the care options suit their unique needs.
Kate & James
After a long and happy marriage to a local minister, Kate was a very lonely widow. She met James on a cruise and although they maintained their own residences, they did everything together – travel, theatre trips, evenings at the opera. But things changed when Kate fell and broke her hip; her arthritis, always painful, seemed to take root in the hip joint and walking became agonizing. Daily routines became so awkward that Kate moved into a retirement residence, but her ordeals were just beginning.
When one health issue surfaced after another, she was classified as ‘heavy care’ and transferred to a long-term care residence. At first she was depressed, but her positive attitude kicked in and she rallied. The residence was new and her room was spacious and filled with her favourite furniture. She found she knew many residents from her minister’s-wife days and became the life and soul of the dining room. James visits daily and they continue to attend concerts and the opera.
"Yes, this is where I live – but it’s not who I am. I’m still me."
Nancy & Lloyd
Nancy experienced polio as a young girl, but it never slowed her down one bit, although the ravages of post-polio syndrome cause ongoing problems with mobility and pain. Lloyd was a wonderful husband and father, always positive and interested in others, enjoying sports, playing with the grandkids and gardening. Both self-described ‘joiners’, they began checking out retirement communities several years ago, made a few trial stays and took their time, choosing a large community near their daughter and her family with numerous amenities and a full range of care options. They are thoroughly enjoying meeting new people, taking on-site courses and signing up for day-trips every week.
"Sure we miss the house and the garden, but I know we made the move at the right time. We’re well enough to make the change now, and we’re glad we did."
Miriam & William
Miriam and William are both well turned out with razor-sharp wit, all their marbles and plenty of cash. They still live in the large suburban house where they raised their family and spend six months in their Florida condo. However, a diagnosis of macular degeneration meant that William had to permanently give up the car keys, and Miriam, who was never a confident driver, agreed to sell the car. But without their car, they couldn't even get to the grocery store, and kind neighbours couldn't be imposed upon.
Miriam’s daughter looked into a private support service. Three days a week, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., their new friend arrives, prepares breakfast and does laundry and light housework. They have a weekly routine of groceries, medical appointments, hair salon trips and mall visits. Florida will soon be too expensive due to travel insurance costs so they will probably increase the amount of private support they receive at home. "It won’t work forever but it does for now—so we’ll enjoy this as long as we can."
Natalie & Henry
Natalie raised eyebrows when she married her much older boss—he was 40, she was 22—but they’ve had a wonderful life together. Natalie is still going strong but Henry, unbelievably, is 100! He’s still alert and cracking jokes, but his personal care has become more than Natalie can manage at home. A few months ago, they approached a local retirement residence for a respite stay for Henry, and they both benefited from the break. In fact, on her daily visits, Natalie ran into so many of her friends that she decided on a trial stay for herself. Now they’re both there full time, but with at twist. Each of them are in compact and affordable suites: Henry in assisted living and Natalie in the independent wing.
They have all their meals, evening TV and lots of activities together, but overnight, Henry has the care he needs and Natalie can take worry-free time to be with friends old and new, and even spend a few nights with the grandkids at the cottage. "It’s the best of both worlds for us."
So what happened to the Couple’s Club? Do they still get together? Absolutely. They take turns hosting in their homes— the suburban house, the retirement community's private dining room, the long term care party room. Wherever you live, it’s still your home, and receiving guests is always the best way to share it with your most important friends. Some things are just too good to change.