Prolonging lives by living healthier, staying active

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In the Comfort Life Spotlight

It's been known for some time now that life expectancy is rising all the time. Life expectancy rose over 80 for the first time n 2004 and it has risen several points since then. Retirement homes are contributing to that rise in life expectancy by offering better food, more freedom and catering to people's needs so they are simply happier. Three stories from the pages of Comfort Life magazine illustrate how people remain active and engaged, even as they age.

More time to devote to other interests

At 91, Christine Dahms is still crusading. She is a home economics grad who believes proper diet helps us live longer.

The food at Rideau Gardens Retirement Residence in Ottawa, where she has lived for more than five years, “is well-balanced,” she says. There’s a salad bar, a fruit basket and lots of vegetables. “I would say it’s prolonging our lives. That’s so important,” she says. “I am not just saying that—I firmly believe it.”

She still misses cooking for herself—just a bit. “But (having someone else do the cooking) gives us more time to devote to our other interests.” In her case that includes writing. “I have great curiosity,” she says. “I like to learn something new every day.”

10 minutes away from his club

Bill Willcocks didn’t have a lot of time to talk—it was Thursday and a friend was picking him up to take him for lunch at the Lambton Golf and Country Club, where he has golfed and lunched for 50 years.

Golf still plays a big part in Bill’s life. That’s one big reason he and his wife, Bessie, chose Kingsway Retirement Residence in April 2007—it’s only 10 minutes away from his club. Their daughter and son also live close by, but you get the idea that Lambton was the clincher. Even though there is only one member of his original golfing and lunching group left now.

He and Bessie moved to Kingsway from a condo. “My wife is not well,” explains Bill, 83, “and my cooking was not good. It was time to be looked after for a bit.”

Even on winter days, Bill and Bessie go for half an hour’s walk, often to the nearby Humber Valley. It helps keep him in shape for when the greens open again in spring. He can’t wait.

Staff being so nice has really helped me

“Everyone says I look so much better,” says Molly Erwin, 76, sitting by the window of her bright room at the front of Queenston Place. When she came here two years ago, she had had a heart attack and weighed only 98 pounds.

“I was very sick when I came in here,” says Molly, who attends daily exercise classes, and is as busy as can be.

This day she had just had her hair done, and was off with other residents for a bus trip to the country. “I do love going to Niagara-on-the-Lake,” she says. “And the other day we went to a pumpkin farm.” She also drives her own car, goes out with her friends, and never misses the monthly dinner meetings of her women’s service club.

“The staff being so nice has really helped me,” she says. “They will check me at least twice a night to make sure I’m all right.”

My advice: go and join a lot of activities

Irene Collins is sitting in the beautiful chapel at Kingsway Retirement Residence, sun streaming through the window, talking about dancing. “I taught dancing all my life, had my own dance school,” she says. At 78 she no longer dances, but twice a week in the winter, her niece picks her up from Kingsway so she can attend rehearsals for a dance show that’s been performed at the Westway United Church for more than 70 years.

“I still do the choreography,” says Irene proudly. “The new routines—it just keeps my brain working. We have a rehearsal tonight.”

It’s that kind of involvement that has kept Irene busy and active in her six years at Kingsway. “I made good friends right off the bat, and they’re still my friends,” she says. “That’s my advice, go and join a lot of activities. Make a friend you can talk to.”

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