Rediscovering an Active, Social Lifestyle in Retirement

It may seem inevitable that we will become less active, both physically and socially, as we get older—especially when faced with mobility or health challenges. But people like Rose show us how our lives can actually expand as we get older, and how we can become active and joyful again.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Rose about how her life has changed since she and her husband, Bernard, moved into Chartwell Pickering City Centre in December of 2015. Prior to moving, Rose and Bernard had lived in their home for 40 years.

Rose told me that when they first moved into Chartwell Pickering City Centre, she found it hard to adjust. She missed her home with its familiar surroundings and routines—even though she knew the move had been the right thing to do. Rose stopped driving before they decided to move, and she and Bernard had been finding it difficult to get out. They found they were spending more and more time at home. While their children and grandchildren came to visit periodically, Rose was getting together with friends less and less often. As can happen to people in these situations, their world was getting smaller.

Rose's Journey: Rediscovering an Active Lifestyle in Retirement

Once they moved, it took Rose a few months to really adapt to retirement residence life. Now she loves it! She’s joined an exercise class that takes place in the pool at the community centre next door and likes the fact that she can walk or take a taxi to the mall and the library.

Rose is a very social person, and she and her husband found it easier to make friends at their retirement community than they expected. Rose loves to go downstairs mid-morning to sit with her new neighbours and chat over a cup of tea and a muffin. She also enjoys the entertainment provided by the residence. For example, recently a children’s choir performed, and the mayor came for the concert to hear his grandchild sing. Rose chatted with the mayor and told him, “In case you’re looking for a place for when you get older, this is the place to come.” That’s certainly a ringing endorsement of how much she values living at Chartwell Pickering!

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There are several other things Rose told me she likes about her new life. She spoke very highly of staff and noted how friendly they are. She mentioned how much she likes her suite, the view of the park across the street, and how conveniently located it is. She and Bernard are also impressed with the meals and the menu variety.

Adapting to Change: The Challenges and Joys of Retirement Residence Life

Moving to a retirement residence from the home where we raised our children and lived for many years can be a significant change. Even when the change is good and leads to a better life, it still involves a loss. And when we experience loss, it is normal to recognize that loss. Those feelings don’t mean the change was the wrong one to make; it’s simply a part of the process of letting go and making room for new experiences.

It can be helpful to know about people like Rose who have gone through the process of coping with change in retirement. She is a great example of how a person’s life can expand when they move to a retirement residence. When I talked with Rose, the happiness in her voice told me just as much about how she feels about her new life as her description of how she fills her days.

Many people believe they have to give up having a rich social life and staying active in retirement. Rose is proof that this isn’t true.

Dr. Amy D'Aprix, Retirement and caregiving expert

About Dr. Amy D’Aprix 

Dr. Amy is a certified senior advisor, Vice President of the International Federation on Aging, and Co-Founder of the Essential Conversations Project. As a gerontological social worker, she has over thirty years of experience working with older adults and their families. 

Articles By Dr. Amy

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