The day Joyce Hodd planned to move into Independent Living at Berwick House, her husband fell out of bed and had to go to the hospital. He died four days later, and Hodd says she was grateful to have her new community at Berwick during a tumultuous time.
“I could not have been in a better place when this happened. I was surrounded by people who had ‘been there done that.’ I was totally accepted, and befriended by not just the residents but also the staff,” she says. “The staff’s care is so genuine. That really comes through.”
Hodd was younger than her husband and younger than the average resident at Berwick when she moved in at age 72. While she acknowledges that it’s hard to leave a home you’ve lived in for decades, she thinks most people would benefit from moving earlier.
“People are waiting too long to come in. It’s really hard to leave your homestead, and downsizing is a formidable chore. But Berwick is an absolutely stress-free environment. You don’t realize how much stress you’re under until you aren’t.”
Before making the move, she added up all of her expenses (rent, utilities, groceries, cleaning and landscaping help, etc) and realized that living at Berwick would be a similar cost — with way more perks. She still loves the food even after three years, and even found a boyfriend.
“That’s something I hadn’t counted on. I was never going to do that again, but then along comes this guy and I can’t stop laughing with him — and he can’t stop laughing with me.”
‘Too busy to get old’
“It’s a cruise ship at dry dock,” says acclaimed artist Graham Scholes, who moved into Berwick Royal Oak last year. “Living here gives you the time to go out and volunteer in areas you have an interest in, and you don’t have to worry about the blasted house!”
Scholes and his wife lived in a house on Lands End Road until last year, when they noticed that home maintenance was stealing time that he could have spent in his studio. For years their children had been trying to convince the couple to move — their grandson even worked at Berwick for eight years — and they finally made the move in 2021.
“Our family was right,” Scholes says now.
Scholes uses his Berwick suite living room as an art studio, as well as the shared workshop downstairs. He’s currently working on a “parliament of owls” for Heritage Acres where he regularly volunteers. And there are plenty of other facilities and events to enjoy when he’s not working on art.
“There’s motive to get active. We’re surrounded by beautiful walking areas, and I walk about two kilometres every day. That’s so critical — next year I’ll be 90, but I’m too busy to get old!” he says. “There’s not enough days in the week to take it all in. They do a wonderful job, truly.”
Berwick regularly brings in professional musicians and entertainers to perform in the Berwick Theatre, and Scholes also takes advantage of the Berwick Bus to go to the symphony, theatre and other events around town. The Active Living team continuously plans not just outings and events but courses, quizzes, wine tasting, lectures, fitness, games, culinary demonstrations, and more. Last week residents celebrated Oktoberfest with a Bavarian feast and three accordion players.
“They had people dancing in the halls — as well as you can dance with a cane or a crutch!” he laughs.
Berwick Retirement Communities are both locally and family owned offering flexible, upscale and affordable senior living options in a caring community. For more information about Berwick House, contact Maggie Raw at 250-853-5492. For more information about Berwick Royal Oak, contact Kathy McAree at 250 419-4012.