Friendship blossoms at Chartwell Scarlett Heights

Some friendships are just meant to be. Margaret and Hannah, who both live at Chartwell Scarlett Heights Retirement Residence in Etobicoke, Ontario, feel their own relationship is a little like that.

Both enjoy exercising and knitting, have similar views on politics and love to share what’s happening in their families’ lives—and with 18 grandchildren between them, there’s a lot to discuss!

Interestingly, the two women share the same last name. Margaret’s maiden name was Keenan, which is Hannah’s married name, “But unless it’s way, way back, we don’t think our families are related,” says Margaret, laughing.

Margaret and Hannah attended the same church for many years, where they initially met. At that time, the women were more acquaintances than friends, with their friendship deepening since Margaret, followed by Hannah six months later, moved to Chartwell Scarlett Heights.

Hannah, whose husband passed away in 2016, had lived in her home for 54 years. “I felt isolated after my husband died,” she says. “Eating meals alone wasn’t pleasant, and the upkeep on the house was becoming difficult.” She felt she couldn’t spend another winter in her home and began the search for a seniors’ residence.

She chose Scarlett Heights because it was close to her old neighbourhood and she liked that the suites were bright and sunny. The other deciding factor for Hannah was that Margaret was already a resident. She felt having a friend would make the transition easier and more enjoyable.

Hannah’s instincts were right: a large 2017 research study from the University of Michigan found that the significance of friendships grows with age, and can even be more influential than family relationships on a senior’s health and happiness. Assistant Professor William Chopik, the study’s author, says, “Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So it’s smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest.” *

Now Margaret and Hannah go to exercise classes at the residence together, frequent the knitting club, and often enjoy an after-dinner chat in either one of their suites, discussing the day’s happenings.

Margaret, a retired nurse, agrees that friends—both old and new—make the transition to a retirement residence smoother. She and her husband sold their house in 2015 and moved to an apartment. When her husband passed away, Margaret also felt lonely. She has a few good friends she keeps in touch with, but meeting up with them is more difficult now as they no longer drive.

“I chose Chartwell Scarlett Heights because I liked the amenities and activities they offered, plus the health support that is available,” she says. “Having Hannah here is another a big perk.”

Hannah’s friendship has made a big difference in Margaret’s life too, but she also recognizes that being open to meeting new people and trying different activities are important steps in making new friends at any residence.

“You have to put yourself out there,” Hannah agrees. “The activities are a great ice-breaker. That’s how I got involved—the first day after I moved in, I went to Bingo and sat beside a lady named Mary. Now we sit together and we’ll save each other’s seats,” she adds.

Making friends is more difficult when you’re older, Margaret believes, but once those friendships are established, the rewards are worth it. “It’s just such a great pleasure in life to have a good friend, to have someone to talk to.”

Chartwell Scarlett Heights is just one of over 200 Chartwell residences across Canada, each dedicated to offering a wide range of activities and amenities—including clubs, recreational and social opportunities and outings—that can help residents meet and make new friends. Learn more on our website.

* The following source provided reference for this blog:

1. Michigan State University Today. “Are friends better for us than family?” (2017), online: