Violet, Age 97, At Chartwell since 2009
When posed with the question, How would you describe your life at your retirement residence?, Violet exclaims, “It’s anything but boring!” Having lived at her Chartwell residence for almost nine years now, she can certainly attest to what the lifestyle in a retirement community looks and feels like.
Following the passing of her husband, Violet lived alone in an apartment for almost three years. “Those were some of the loneliest years of my life. I found myself feeling afraid often,” she says. It was following a conversation with one of her sons that she decided to do something about it. “I told him I didn’t want to be by myself anymore.” Though both of her sons offered to move Violet in with them, she decided against the option. “They and their wives work full time—I’d still be spending the majority of my days on my own and I wanted more of a social life than that.” After deciding she wanted to explore retirement living, Violet’s sons went on a personal visit to Chartwell and immediately thought they’d found a place she’d be happy to call home.
“It was the funniest thing, I felt at home right off the bat,” Violet tells, considering herself lucky to have transitioned into the lifestyle so seamlessly. “I think I was more than ready for the change. It helped that the staff and residents were very welcoming and friendly. When I laid my head on my pillow that night, it was the first time in a while I had slept through the night without feeling afraid. It was the best feeling.”
With the peace of mind that someone was always there if she needed them, Violet was quick to take advantage of all the convenient services at her residence, including the dining experience and all the entertainment on offer. “I’d spent so many years of my life as a wife, a mother and working a full-time job,” Violet reminisces. “When I moved in, I no longer had any worries or obligations. I’m not lonesome or bored—I feel free.”
So since moving in, how does Violet spend her days?
“I like a good sleep-in in the morning,” Violet chuckles. “But some of my friends sleep in even longer than I do, so I don’t feel so bad.” After waking at a leisurely time, Violet gets ready and goes down to the residence’s bistro, where she pours herself a cup of tea and picks up a muffin—one of the many snacks available to individuals who prefer a more casual breakfast outside the dining room. “There are always people down there, so we end up chatting together for a while.”
After a light breakfast, Violet—who admits she is very active at her residence and chooses to participate in almost everything—joins her first activity of the day. “There’s usually some kind of intellectual activity in the morning. I like the jumbo crosswords.”
Lunchtime in the dining room is something Violet looks forward too, and not just because she’s a fan of the food. “I sit with the same ladies at lunch each day and we love to catch up together,” she laughs. “We even know each other’s family now!”
Following a hearty lunch, Violet usually elects to take an afternoon nap—but she insists if there’s anything going on at the residence that her Lifestyle and Program Manager give her a call and wake her up! “I don’t like to miss anything,” she admits. “Especially not Bingo, it’s my favourite because the winner gets chocolate bars and I can’t get enough of my chocolate!” Other preferred activities include crafts, painting, baking, weekly exercise classes, current events meetings and religious services. “I also look forward to Happy Hour on Fridays; there’s musical entertainment, and sometimes my son will join me for a beer,” Violet adds. “I stick to Coca-Cola though. I know what I like.”
Before dinner, Violet indulges in another daily routine she cherishes—a cookie and hot chocolate back in the bistro. “Did I mention I love my chocolate?” she teases. “I’m always looking for a reason to chat with everybody. Sometimes we do ice creams socials or staff have the popcorn machine going.”
Violet enjoys when someone is playing on the residence’s piano during the dinner hour, finding it very relaxing. After a delicious dinner that might include a second helping of chocolate pudding, she wraps up a busy day and heads to her suite to put her feet up and watch some television before bed.
Though Violet admits she sticks to a pretty typical routine each day, she sometimes goes out for a bite to eat with family, and loves to be outdoors during the summer months. “We do the occasional barbecue and campfire out back. It’s so lush in our neighbourhood,” she says. “We have a gentleman here who goes for a walk around the block every day to keep fit. He’s over 100!”
After sharing the details of a typical day in her life at Chartwell, Violet concludes by saying, “This is the home I wish I’d had a long time ago. I’d recommend it to anybody. With nothing to worry about and no responsibilities, I’m just enjoying me now.”