Comfort Life - Your guide to retirement & care

Staying active and vigorous

Inside many retirement homes, residents are finding it much easier to remain active and vigorous. They keep up with what is current in social issues, read the latest books while maintaining old and new friendships, and stay interested in "absolutely everything" around them.

Opening new doors

Arthur Pearce was as pleased as could be. With this 90-year-old one-time Regimental Sergeant Major acting as “prompter,” the current affairs group had just concluded an insightful debate at its regular Wednesday morning session. The topic: whether all-black public schools benefit young black students. There were good points made on both sides by the involved residents of Glynnwood Retirement Residence but, Arthur reported, as always, there were no hard feelings at the end.

Arthur still approaches life with all the vigour he once brought to his military role. The bugle call, you might say, came this time when he came in from gardening and found his wife, Elizabeth, “a remarkably strong woman” who he met when she was in the Wrens, collapsed on the floor. The problem was heart arrhythmia, and she needed a pacemaker. “If I had not been there, she would certainly have died,” he says.

With Elizabeth being 88, “it was not fair to stay in what was a fairly big family house. It was no good taking any more chances. We had had a good run. So where do you go? To your children? I don’t think that’s fair.”

For Arthur and Elizabeth, moving to Glynnwood has opened new doors. “There are those here with very high education,” says Arthur. “And I like very much discussing events.” So the current events group was a natural for him.

It’s the peace I like best 

Dorothy Morphy lives, as she always did, in a world of books. Her room at Queenston Place, in Niagara Falls, is lined with bookshelves, some of them holding books that once belonged to her grandfather.

This former librarian at Toronto’s magnificent, modern Reference Library on Yonge Street is, naturally, the one who tidies up the books at the residence’s cozy library. Lovingly.

“I think it’s the peace I like best here,” says Dorothy, 84, one of the longest-in-residence residents, whose room looks out on the elegant courtyard. “You come in your room and shut the door. I do a lot of writing, short accounts, and I keep up a big correspondence with my friends and family.”

No apprehensions about anything

She’s very much her own woman. The kind of woman who went to York University at 50 to take a fine arts degree. A grandmother of 10, a great-grandmother of six. The sort of woman who’s interested in absolutely everything around her.

You’ll see Thelma “Tib” Green, 87, walking and birdwatching through the nearby conservation area. Stop her, and she’ll give you a rundown on the history of the mills that two centuries ago lined the nearby North Don River.

“I take life head-on,” she says quietly. “I feel good to be my age. I have no apprehensions about anything.”

She moved to Glynnwood Retirement Residence a year ago after a heart operation. “It’s just like being at home—except I don’t have the stairs to climb,” says Tib (a nickname she’s carried since childhood). She enjoys coming down to the dining room for breakfast—“the most important meal of the day. There’s so much choice!” she enthuses. “But I like my prunes.”

What does she like the most? “The people. I have so many friends!” She didn’t have much time to talk. She was driving over to the Thornhill seniors club where she is in a drama club. “I still like to sketch and draw too,” she adds as she heads out.

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