It had been a year since that fateful day in the church hall, where they had celebrated their 60th anniversary only to have Charlie rushed by ambulance to the hospital half-way through the festivities. Though it had only turned out to be a mild stroke with no major permanent damage, the incident had sparked a chain of events, leading to various conversations, considerations and family decisions over the better part of 2016.
Some of the conversations were difficult. Hazel took on a new role as caregiver, and her adult children, for the first time, had to come to terms with the fact that their parents were aging. Aging…what a loaded word! As the family learned, aging is too often surrounded with negative connotations, presumptions about one’s physical and mental abilities, and other uncomfortable things most people try to avoid talking about for as long as possible. Yet, with a positive outlook, a sense of humour, a social network and supports in place, aging can truly be a wonderful journey – as Charlie, Hazel and their loved ones were both now discovering.
At first, Charlie’s incident was only a tad concerning for family and friends; more of an inconvenience for Charlie, if anything. He was forced to give up driving and other things people usually take for granted. Yet, with more contact with their parents after Charlie’s stroke, the kids had discovered that both parents were struggling with maintaining their acreage, and it was creating a great deal of stress that was negatively impacting their quality of life. The couple did a great deal of research and consultation with their family, finally arriving at the decision that downsizing to a seniors community was the right move for them.
The move wasn’t easy. Charlie and Hazel had to navigate a system that was foreign to them. There were inconsistencies, misinformation, and even more decisions to make once things were finally understood. They both feared having to give up things they loved the most – their beloved pet cat, gardening, furnishings and prized possessions, the odd drink with friends, and large family gatherings. However, after Hazel’s accidental fall during the moving process, her arrival at her new home in their seniors community was a welcome blessing to the hospital bed she had left. All the things they had feared losing by downsizing turned out to be things they could retain in their new environment, just on a different scale – even family gatherings, as they were discovering today.
Charlie and Hazel sat hand in hand at the head table in the community’s large common room, surrounded by their family, long-time acquaintances and new-found friends to celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary. What a year they had! But they got through it together, with a little help, and a whole lot of love.
Not only does this issue celebrate the 1 year anniversary of our fictional couple, it is also the anniversary of the Charlie & Hazel public awareness campaign. For over a year, ASCHA has been sharing our seniors housing stories with you – a new issue released every Friday without fail.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the journey thus far and that you look forward to reading each week. In celebration of this milestone occasion, we hope you will assist us in making Charlie and Hazel go viral today by sharing the campaign across your favourite social media platforms using #Charlie&Hazel! Simply share today’s issue, or this blog page, or maybe send out a quick tweet or Facebook shout-out!
Your assistance in getting the campaign out will positively impact seniors and their families across Alberta that are making decisions about seniors living and care. We want Albertans to have the resources and information they need to inform their choices.
Thank you so much for tuning in! Here’s to another year of stories, overcoming challenges and increasing understanding!