Working in an active retirement community is like working in a living book of wisdom. Take one of our longest residents, Mary Ward, for example.
Every day Mary walks by my office with a happy “Namaste!” greeting, either on her way to or from one of her daily walks. She is a longtime student and teacher of Yoga and teaches one of our yoga classes for her fellow residents. After many hallway chats with Mary, I have grown to appreciate her outlook on health, spirituality and her positive attitude in life.
Mary moved to Missionwood over 8 years ago with her husband Kemp, who has since passed away. She says they had no qualms about moving into community living as they had lived in a similar community of around 200 people in Florida. Kemp and Mary spend their early retirement years with family in Quebec and Edmonton, travelling to Florida for the winter. When Kemp’s health began to fail and Mary’s heart problems persisted, her son Chris and Daughter-in-law Carolyn invited them to Kelowna.
While here they visited three senior residences and chose Missionwood.
In the four years I have worked here, I have observed a very conscious approach to retirement and aging in Mary. When I asked her about it, she said the main things are exercise and aging with a purpose. She stressed to me the importance of finding a purpose for your life as you get older, and not just ‘hanging in there.’ “You still have to have a reason to live” she told me. She stressed that each one of us has experiences and knowledge to share, and so we should.
Mary has found her purpose in teaching yoga, her work as a Lay Minister in the Anglican Church, and finding ways to use her life skills to help others. She is also putting her wonderful poems into a book, as well as writing a book on mind, body and spirit life skills in aging. Very appropriately, it is called Aging With A Purpose.
When I asked Mary about what an active lifestyle means to her, she referred to her life here, at Missionwood. She said that one of the chief assets to living in a residence like we have here, is that you have to get up, get dressed, and get going in order to eat as well as participate in activities. She feels there just is not the same incentive to get up and going every day when living alone. Even when her husband was here as well, as their physical abilities grew limited, they were both able to take part in activities and keep their interests alive due to the supportive environment and staff. For instance, when they both could no longer drive, the Missionwood shuttle was there for groceries, doctor’s visits, and outings. Mary stressed to me how she feels that without the supports available at Missionwood, as well as her family, she would not have been able to have as active a life as she has had.
An active lifestyle is possible for anyone, regardless of age or physical ability. Mary says that “there are so many wonderful things to do!” at any age, and she feels that her life depends on keeping herself going with purpose. She certainly has found a purpose in helping others and spreading her positive outlook on life. After I interviewed Mary, she said she doesn’t usually like to toot her own horn and keeps pretty private. I told her that it doesn’t mean that others like me haven’t noticed the quiet work she does and the impact it has!
Working at a retirement resort like Missionwood has taught me a lot about how I want to live my life, the importance of family and social connections, as well as the effect your attitude and outlook on life has on your wellbeing. With each resident I get to know, I learn more about myself, how I see the world, and I hope one day I can approach getting older with as much passion for life as people like Mary do!
Amanda Martin is the marketing director at Missionwood Retirement Resort.