Retirement home activities profiled

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In the Comfort Life Spotlight

People inside retirement homes discuss the things that keep them active and engaged.

At the Orchards in Vineland, Ontario: weekly talks in the lounge

"My favourite activity?" A woman sitting in the lounge at The Orchards Retirement Residence in Vineland thinks for a moment. "Michelle's talks." Michelle Waldron, 26, is life enrichment co-ordinator at the residence, and those who live there just love her weekly talks in the lounge. The subject may be a movie star, like Doris Day or Cary Grant, a writer, like Robert Frost or Mark Twain, an artist like Picasso, or the talk may be about animals.

Because she comes from a different generation to her audience, Michelle, an especially bubbly person, often must research the subjects from scratch. "It's great for me," she says. "I'm learning so much."

In some cases, people made their own activities inside the home.

'It keeps me busy'

Phyllis Dales is glad she brought her friend along to Whispering Pines Residence with her. Her friend is her very sophisticated sewing machine, now set up in the corner of an activity room.

"It does embroidery, too," says Phyllis, 85. "It keeps me busy." When we met Phyllis, she was just finishing a plaid smoking jacket for another resident, Bruce Palmer.

"You can't buy them anywhere now, so I said I'd make one for him," she says. The only problem: Everyone is so friendly, "it interferes with my work."

Phyllis, who grew up in England and is planning a trip back this summer, lived at a rural retirement home but moved when she found it cost her $60 in cab fare to attend doctors' appointments. Now, close to downtown Barrie, Ontario, it's no problem.

Mini-museum at Barrie Retirement Home

Isabel Nash is 95 and still educating. She came up with the idea to display some of the artifacts stored by historical associations in the Barrie area at the Whispering Pines Residence, where she lives. One lounge has already been set aside for the displays. Not only will the residents, many of whom grew up on local farms, be interested, but history teachers could bring along their classes on outings. Students would see the historical objects and also meet people familiar with their use. Not least, Isabel. "She's very good when school children are here," says marketing vice-president Peter Peachey of the former teacher.

Inside Delmanor Glen Abbey: 'Back to life'

Rose Nishimura in the greenhouse at Delmanor Glen Abbey retirement residence: "People bring me their half-dead plants, and I bring them back to life."

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