It's all here in active lifestyle communities
Active-living communities offer a unique opportunity
Rosedale Village isn’t a retirement home, or a long-term care facility, or reflective of any of the other terms that might fall across whenever we think about seniors living. Truly, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
RiverBend Golf Commuity, London, Ontario
"Why can't my life be like this every day?"
The impetus behind the community is the same as the thought we all have whenever we’re on vacation: “I wish I could live here.” When we travel, we gravitate to environments that reflect a lifestyle that we appreciate, one that is richer in some key ways than the one we have at home. The gym is right there, not at the end of a drive through traffic. There is always space on the tennis court. There are people around who, even without saying anything more than “good morning,” reflect our priorities and perspective on the world. We go to those places because we want things to be easy, comfortable, and where we’re able to casually rub elbows with kindred spirits. Which is why we’re given to wondering at some point while we're there, “Why can’t my life be like this every day?”
The answer that active living communities offer is that it can. That freedom, that luxury, is the primary service, in a sense, that the active living model seeks to provide. Active living communities are pet friendly, such as Wilmot Creek on the shores of Lake Ontario, and Grand Cove in Grand Bend, Ontario. St. Elizabeth Village in Hamilton, Ontario, is at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment on one hand, and the airport on the other.
A gateway to the world
These communities, and the many others like them across the country, are less places to stay than springboards onto the wider community, and the wider world. For the residents, it’s not about breathing, it’s about breathing deep; it’s not about survival, it’s about living life to the fullest. Active living communities are designed for people who people who want the equity of owning, none of the hassles of maintenance, and a penchant for getting on with more important things.
Wilmot Creek in Clarington Township, Ontario.
An augmented lifestyle, rather than a reduced one
The reality is that most Canadians aren’t living in an ideal environment because their homes reflect their needs at a very specific time in their lives. We bought them to be proximate to work, parks, and schools. Everybody did. Suburban communities, as a result, are bedroom communities, places where people go to sleep. During they day, they are sleepy.
In contrast, active living communities reflect the people we are today, and the desires that we have as we approach retirement. “I don’t think the way I do things has changed just because I’m 78 years old,” says Jack Hyatt, a resident of an active living community in London, Ontario. “And, you know, I’m just not going to let it change if I can help it.” Certainly, he doesn’t. He cycles every day that he can, including frequent trips to the University of Western Ontario, where he is professor emeritus, and past chair of the Department of History.
The community he and his wife live in today augments their lifestyle, adding to it, rather than taking way. There are active spaces, not just in the evenings, but also during the day. Social events and clubs are organic in the sense that they are most typically begun and managed by residents, not staff.
What active living communities seek to provide, above all, is the space and the opportunity to make your own choices, and to live the life you want to live. Amy Porteous, VP of Continuing Care at Bruyère Village near Ottawa notes that housing is designed to make sure that independence remains "first and foremost."
“It’s a big family,” says Francine Durand, a resident of Bruyère Village, “but we have our own lives.” You’d be hard pressed to find a better definition of active living than that.
—by Glen Herbert