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Putting the ‘active’ in active living

Meet three people living life to the fullest at Berwick House and Berwick Royal Oak
Berwick Royal Oak resident Colleen Goossen, who is in her 90s, on a recent zip lining trip.

If you know someone who’s retired, you might assume they’ll be easy to reach. But if you know a retiree who’s living at Berwick House or Berwick Royal Oak, you might have to get used to hearing their voicemail message.

“Sorry I missed you,” says Berwick House resident Georgia Owens when returning a call from Saanich News, “I was on the exercise bike this morning, and then at a seminar from an arthritis expert this afternoon. But I have a few minutes to chat before I head out again!”

Berwick Royal Oak resident Joe Artibise was at a birthday party when Saanich News called, but had a few minutes to spare the next day before leaving for a tour of Government House.

“Last night the staff here set up a propane campfire on the back patio so we could roast marshmallows. I brought my ukulele and we had a singalong. Every week there’s more on the activity schedule than we’re able to get to — it’s all fun,” he says.

Georgia and Ed Owens at a Berwick House event. Georgia says that Ed moved into Berwick “as if he’d been here all his life,” but it took her a little longer to settle in. “Eventually it became home, thanks mainly to the people and staff, ” she says.

It’s not that Berwick residents are too busy to keep in touch, it’s just that they’re unlikely to be sitting near the phone unless you make an appointment. They’re more focused on putting the active in active living.

“We are both more active than we’ve been for quite a while,” says Terry Dance-Bennick, who lives at Berwick Royal Oak with her husband Theo Bennick. “I’m delighted that Theo comes with me on many of our outings, which is a real change from our routine before moving to Berwick.”

Terry and Theo just got back from a vacation up Island, where they stayed at Berwick Campbell River and Berwick Parksville. Berwick residents can reserve complimentary stays in other communities, which means easy access to seven locations on Vancouver Island, plus Berwick on the Park in Kamloops.

“We were most impressed with their marvelous ocean views, and the consistency of Berwick standards,” Terry says of their visit to Campbell River and Parksville. “We’re happy to know we can enjoy a summer holiday each year at other Berwicks!”

Berwick Royal Oak residents at the Malahat Skywalk (and slide!) and out picnicking.

‘It became home’

Georgia says her husband Ed, “walked into Berwick as if he’d been here all his life,” but it took her a little longer to settle in.

“Eventually it became home, thanks mainly to the people and the staff — they are wonderful. Sometimes people ask if I’d move if I won the lottery. The answer now is no — I’ve got friends here that I wouldn’t want to leave.”

Georgia and Ed knew they wanted to enjoy their retirement years without being dependent on children and family, so they made the move to Berwick House. Their daughter was about to take a year sabbatical, and they wanted her to travel knowing they were comfortable and safe.

“There are all sorts of things going on all day long — you can do the things you want, and avoid the things you don’t. Ed and I take every bus trip that’s offered, but if anyone invites us to play cards, we say ‘no thank you, and please don’t ask again!’” she laughs. “At this stage in our lives we can’t do exotic things like travelling, but the bus trips, picnics and special dinners with special music, those are the things that keep us going.”

Terry and Theo also enjoy scenic bus trips from Berwick Royal Oak, as well as a photography club, iPad classes, a monthly cocktail hour, environmental discussions with the Green Action Team and much more.

“I’m about to send my memoir to Friesen Press, thanks to our memoir writing group!” Terry says. “We both look forward to receiving the monthly calendar, and signing up for activities. The Active Living staff are personable and caring. We’ve seen them all remain patient with those in need, and we like the range in age and gender too.”

For Joe and his wife Yvonne, leaving behind yard work, house maintenance, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up has meant more time for music and dancing. They sing in a choir, and drive to regular round dancing events in the winter.

“We still have our car, but we’re finding we’re using it a lot less. The longer you stay here, the more you get to know the rest of the big Berwick family. It’s home.”

Ready to learn more? Berwick staff and residents are always happy and proud to show off their home. To book a tour of Berwick House, contact Linda McDonald at 250-853-5492; to book a tour of Berwick Royal Oak contact Kathy McAree at 250-419-4012. Follow Berwick on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.