Eighty-nine year old Betty Earle and her husband moved into United’s Garrison Green community seven years ago. They decided to make the move while they were healthy and independent. Betty is grateful for that decision because she is surrounded by friends and a community that has supported her during some difficult times. Along the way, Betty has become a gifted artist. We sat down with Betty to discuss the importance of community in her later years.
“My husband Ed and I decided to make the move from our family home to United’s Garrison Green community seven years ago, and it was one of our best decisions. It was important that we make the decision while we were healthy. A few years later, in 2012, my husband passed away. It was a very difficult time, but I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I was living by myself in our home. I’m very glad that I’m here. I would hate to be out there all alone with nobody to talk to. Here, I have so many friends and there were a lot of people who helped me get through that time.
“Then a couple of years ago I was out shopping and tripped on the sidewalk outside the store. I hit my head very hard. I went to the hospital, but the doctors said everything was fine. Very shortly after that I started having memory problems. I was forgetting the names of familiar people, and not remembering my phone number. Since then, the memory problems have been sneaking up on me quickly, and I’m getting quite worried about it. My son is very helpful, making sure that I make my appointments and getting me to write down the things I need to remember.
“It’s embarrassing and frustrating at times, especially when I can’t find the right word when I’m telling a story over dinner, but I have a great group of friends here who don’t mind filling in the blanks. We laugh about it and that makes a big difference.
“I can’t say enough about the staff and, of course, the people who live here. We are all very supportive of each other and it’s that kind of community that makes all the difference.
“Another very important difference at United is the intelligent programs. I say intelligent because the programs aren’t intended to just keep us busy. There are lectures from Mount Royal University, all kinds of music programs from the Calgary Philharmonic and the Calgary Opera and others. It’s gives us a lot of new things to experience.
“One of those for me, was opera. I was never a fan. I’m more into jazz, but when a friend suggested we go watch an opera from New York that was showing at Chinook Theatre, I gave it a try. Now I’m hooked. The performance was very interesting and now I go whenever I can.
“The art studio is another place that I really enjoy. A few years ago we did a paint pour, where various colours of paint were poured down a pole so they mixed at the bottom. The result was an amazing kaleidoscope painting. I saved a few of the dried pieces and use them in my artwork. The professional artists here give me suggestions and it really sparks my creativity. The staff and residents – we’re all part of this wonderful community.
“I think it all comes down to community – having a group of friends and knowing I’m not the only one who might be having memory concerns. This is life, and it’s going to happen to everyone to one degree or another. If I have any advice for someone – don’t forget to laugh. Find something that makes you happy so you don’t worry about things all the time. That’s what I like about living here. I’m surrounded by friends who make me laugh.”
Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help!