Just moved in this past fall, Ben has already hosted collage painting workshops for his fellow residents and was a welcome voice in Oceana PARC’s Carol Sing. He’s now looking forward to leading more activities for seniors, like writing and acrylic painting courses, in the new year. And the 86-year-old has just the right background for it.
Well versed in voice, theatre and music, Ben attended McGill University, St. Michael’s Choir School, Western Washington University and more. Along the way, he earned a degree in education and a master’s degree in theatre.
Living in Montreal before packing up for Vancouver in 1973, Ben has also published six books with Rutherford Press. In fact, he’s turned to book writing twice in his life as a way to heal. He penned the memoir, “Discovered in a Scream” after retiring at age 60 from a demanding teaching job and Margot – Love in the Golden Years to celebrate the life of his beloved partner of 16 years.
After the passing of Margot, Ben was living alone in the South Surrey community of Crescent Beach. Urged by his son to not move into an “old folks home” and encouraged by his daughter to take a tour of the new Oceana PARC, Ben felt that the independent living retirement home was the right place and moved in as early as possible. He happily notes the many reasons he loves living at the 23-storey/198-unit Oceana PARC, starting with the staff.
“With 68 residents at last count, all aged from 66 to 95, the super-friendly staff appear to know every one of us by name – even knowing our individual suite numbers,” says Ben, adding that from administration to desk staff to chefs and waitresses, they greet everyone with many a bright hello throughout the day. “Since I personally have such a hard time remembering names, I find this absolutely amazing!”
Ben also can’t get enough of the views from his spacious suite and balcony, which look out at sparkling Semiahmoo Bay just beyond the bustling White Rock waterfront. (“Sunsets and the reflection from sunrise are spectacular over the bay,” he says.) Inside his high-ceiling rooms, Ben was pleased to learn he could hang his own paintings on the walls to help personalize his space. Noting that he found downsizing easy before his move, he now helps other new residents decide where to hang their favourite paintings.
Clearly enjoying Oceana PARC’s flexible dining options, Ben likes that he can sit down to a gourmet meal wherever and with whomever he wants. Indeed, residents can choose from the Driftwood Grab & Go, Sea Breeze Cafe and Salish Sea Dining Room – all offering menus planned by Executive Chef Shaughn Halls that aim to promote senior health.
As Ben says: “Meals are fantastic, well-balanced, nutritious, varied and absolutely delicious. They compete most favourably with fare served in any restaurant I have eaten at in many a month.” It also doesn’t hurt, he adds, that the residence’s fine dining décor boasts panoramic windows, a marine colour palette and pops of greenery.
In keeping with Oceana PARC’s active and healthy lifestyle, the retirement home also offers many types of physical and mental exercise for seniors – from circuit training to meditation and mindfulness. In particular, Ben has committed to regularly attending weekday-morning PARC Fit sessions in the first-ever PARC Fit & Wellness Centre.
Inside the centre’s state-of-the-art gymnasium, Fitness Leader Reyna Bruckner and Active Living Manager Jessica De Los Santos guide Ben and other like-minded seniors through a series of strength, balance, flexibility and agility exercises. For example, residents rotate their ankles and feet on floor gliders, stretch their arm and leg muscles with elastic resistance bands and strengthen their arm and shoulder muscles with weights and bender balls. All the while, says Ben, the Fitness Leaders play motivating recorded music. And bit by bit, he adds, each attendee finds renewed strength and improved balance.
For those making the move to senior living, Ben offers these words of advice: “Meet as many people as possible. Get involved in whatever activities tickle your fancy. And spread your happiness to all.”
Learn more about life at Oceana PARC on a personalized tour. Book online or by calling 778.294.1115.