Comfort Life - Your guide to retirement & care

Adjusting to Life Inside a Retirement Home

No move is easy and the move into a retirement home is more difficult than most, for obvious reasons. Yet people are surprised by what they learn about their new homes - and about themselves.

Erin Mills Lodge in Mississauga, Ontario gave Helen Slattery a "fresh outlook on life"

Helen Slattery likes to take good care of herself. She eats well and gets plenty of fresh air and exercise. So when things took a turn for the worse, she knew it was time to make a change. “I found myself buying frozen dinners and I couldn’t be bothered making a salad,” she says. “I said to myself ‘Helen you’re getting tired,’ and I thought there must be something better than this.”

Turns out there is.

Slattery, 85, decided to move into a retirement residence. Like a growing number of seniors, she made a choice that, all too often, is made by someone else. After consulting with her daughter, Slattery settled on Erin Mills Lodge in Mississauga, Ontario, 10 minutes from her daughter’s house. She did a lot of research beforehand and spent a week at Erin Mills as a paying guest.

At first she missed cooking her own meals, but that didn’t last long. “(Cooking) has been replaced by so many other things,” she says: playing bridge, keeping in touch with friends, attending exercise classes and, she says with delight, “I discovered I could write.” Slattery has joined a creative writing group and is proud to have tapped into this previously undiscovered talent.

Slattery now urges friends to make the leap to a retirement home sooner rather than later. “I think some people waited too long to make the change and their fragility prevents them from doing a lot of things.

Find out more about Toronto retirement homes.

'Community living was something new to me'

They are not just any old shuffleboard courts. Ernie Doran has played plenty in Florida, "but I haven't seen courts like these anywhere." The gleaming wooden courts on the lower level at Amica at City Centre, right beside the indoor putting green, caught his eye when the widower arrived here last year.

"We have about 30 players in our tournament," says Ernie, 90, "and sometimes we play twice a day."

When he sold his home in Etobicoke and moved to City Centre, "community living was something new to me," he admits. "I found it very strange, but I went down to the dining room and very soon I was sitting with a group of men. It's so much easier sitting down with a table of men. We have all been through the same experiences."

Soon though, Ernie was busy. As well as playing games, he tries to swim every evening in the pool-taking him back to his days as a boy swimming in Georgian Bay. "I love it here," he says. "It's so nicely appointed. And I think if you come here, you have to be involved in the activities, something to get you out of your room."

Learn more about Amica City Centre

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