Issue 47 – Dinner Guests

had been a fantastic Family Day weekend, but a busy one. They had enjoyed the company of their dear friend, Bea on Saturday, whom Hazel had known since her years in nursing school. Bea was reluctant to come at first, not quite knowing if Hazel was yet “up for company.” But upon hearing that she was nearly fully recovered and up and about, was delighted to accept the invite. They had not seen each other in months as Bea spent the better part of the fall and winter seasons in southern California, where her youngest daughter now lived.

The trio spent the evening noshing on the various dishes Charlie and Hazel had prepared. Charlie and Hazel were used to cooking large family dinners and were still getting used to downsizing not just their home, but their routines and traditions. They had cooked so much food they weren’t quite sure where to store it all, so Bea was sent home with several containers of leftovers.

Bea was surprised by how much Charlie and Hazel seemed to be enjoying their new home. Most of her surviving friends lived with family, or in care. Seniors housing, (or as she called it, ‘retirement living’) was very new to her. She had a lot of questions, but mainly wondered why more people she knew didn’t live in communities like this? She had certainly never considered it an option, as she was fortunate enough to live with her son for half the year and then with her daughter for the other half. It made her think though. Perhaps she had mistakenly considered such places a last resort for those that didn’t have family support. Now, she was seeing it as so much more than that – a real alternative to being “looked after” expectantly by younger generations. Did she rely too much on her family? She had never had that type of discussion with her children. Maybe it was time.
As it turned out, Catherine was busy on family day helping her eldest son move into his very first home, and was unable to accept the invite to dinner extended earlier in the week. Charlie and Hazel used the opportunity to reach out to Eva and Claude, their friends from the acreage down the road from where they used to live. Eva and Claude were nearly two decades younger, but over the years they had developed a good friendship built on afternoon drop-ins and Charlie teaching Claude the ropes of maintaining a larger property. Claude was originally from Montreal and had spent the majority of his life amidst tall buildings and parking lots. He had never even run a gas powered lawn mower when he took over Eva’s family home after the passing of her father.

Claude ribbed Charlie a little for no longer having a yard to worry about, while Eva and Hazel went on about decorating ideas for the new place. Charlie and Hazel were tired from cooking so much food Friday and Saturday in preparation of Bea’s visit, and did not dare serve up leftovers! Instead, they opted to treat their friends to dinner in the community dining room. They had sensed some reluctance at first from the couple, who likely expected some sort of hospital-style menu complete with pureed meat. However, after explaining that they were serving maple glazed salmon, potatoes with chives and grilled asparagus, Claude and Eva certainly changed their tune!

After dinner, the four of them joined in team trivia night in the main activity room. Having two different generations represented on their team proved to be a good strategy, as they ended up winning by twelve whole points! Claude and Eva had so much fun that they agreed would come by for the next trivia challenge.

Your experience of visiting or living in seniors housing is definitely what you make it. As proved in this week’s issue, having company and involving them in community activities can be a lot of fun.

At the same time, we might not always consider congregate seniors living an option, especially when we have family nearby or the idea in our head that we will be able to “age-in-place” indefinitely. The key is to know what choices are truly out there in order to challenge our preconceived notions and expectations of how things “ought to be.” We need to make informed, open-minded decisions in our best interests to ensure we age well in community.

We want to remind our readers to participate in our survey on seniors housing terminology and understandings – we are hoping for 1000 participants in this study, so please share it with your friends and family. Click on the link below to share your ideas and feedback with us!


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