The benefits of retirement living: Kitty Chong’s Story
“The warmth of staff makes me feel at home and like I’m valued, respected and needed.”

Kitty Chong, 85, grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, moving to Canada in 1972 with her husband and three children. Ever since she was little, Kitty has enjoyed the company of other people and the sense of purpose that giving back to her community has provided. She not only volunteered at a long term care residence for over 20 years, but also devoted her time to the Peel Handicap Adult Association, providing one-on-one time with adults with physical disabilities, teaching them crafts, serving tea and dessert or taking them on outings.

Since the passing of her husband, Kitty began to find her living arrangement to be very lonesome, especially at nighttime. A self-described social butterfly, she wanted to spend her evenings with friends, but found they were too busy with their own lives. Navigating her house safely was also becoming a challenge, the fear of falling down her stairs without anyone knowing or nearby to help preying on her mind. She wanted to live somewhere she would feel taken care of, but also able to maintain her independence and current lifestyle.

When Kitty toured Chartwell Heritage Glen in Mississauga, ON, she was struck by the vibrant atmosphere and how it made her feel secure and welcome. She immediately loved the suite she was shown because of the view, imagining herself watching the birds in the trees in the warm months and admiring the snow in the winter. It felt like home and the right place for her.

Kitty is the first to say how her life has been made better since moving to her Chartwell residence in November 2019. She describes how her happiness has not only increased since moving in, but her sense of personal safety. She has found a great group of friends at her residence whom she enjoys chatting with during meals, participating in activities with and going for walks alongside, including her friend Julie. She also likes to join brain games, exercise classes, craft workshops and outings. In her own words, participating in so many of the activities on offer has given her a “wider perspective of her senior years,” as she feels she is achieving something.

Knowing that staff she’s come to trust are always around to support her if she needs them has contributed to Kitty’s confidence. She explains how relieved she and her family were that she moved in prior to the first wave of COVID-19, as she believes being home alone and not being able to get out of the house to socialize or run errands would have been “too much to bear.”

Kitty’s life has changed a lot since moving into Chartwell Heritage Glen, but she’s adamant that is has been all positive as she’s now “living her best life and is the best version of herself.” She encourages others not to settle for loneliness and anxiety in their retirement years, saying, “Life is what one makes of it. You choose what makes you happy, and there is a lot to choose [here] to make you happy.”