From The Gazette

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Bill Tierney: A place for seniors to call home, with all the amenities

I’m just a few years away from being old. If you know what I mean.

And if you are reading this, you are among those who are living like me, in a kind of Boomer Graceland, where the king never dies and we’re idle forever. Fourteen per cent of the population is over the age of 65. By 2033, that will read 25 per cent, unless they find some painless way of getting rid of us before then.

I have very old friends and family in their late 80s who allow me to maintain the fiction that I am still young because I’m younger than they are. But I’m already 10 years older than my father was when he died and I’m a bit lost. What do you do next?

This is uncharted territory. Luckily, I have role models in my life. I know a couple who’ve been married as long as I’ve been alive. We celebrated their anniversary just before Christmas. Years ago in Beaconsfield, we were neighbours and they very lovingly adopted us and our three children. They were very kind to the young hippy couple next door. They stepped in like parents and then grandparents for us all. And after all these years, they still are. That’s how immigrants survive. They build their own family.

Well, they recently moved from their house of 40 years to an apartment-hotel complex in Pointe-Claire. Clearly, they were having trouble with the stairs and looking after a big house. They looked around for alternative senior living and bingo! They found just what they wanted.

“Retirement on the Park,” it was called. This had to be investigated.

Somehow they whittled down their extensive collection of domestic stuff to fit into a two-bedroom apartment with two balconies. Everything was easy, designed for people of my age and older. From the basement garage we only had to walk 50 paces to get into their fourth-floor apartment. Outlets everywhere for hydro and cable, emergency buzzers, cupboards galore. Somehow, in a couple of days, they had moved from a 10-room house to a four-room apartment and were pouring tea into the finest china. Why not use it!

So, they take us on a visit to the first floor to check out this apartment-hotel with about 550 people living in it. You can take or leave the activities and activity spaces. If you want to be a hermit, that’s OK. If you want a calendar full of things to do, you’ve got it.

There’s a bistro for a morning coffee or a lunchtime glass of wine. In fact, you can have a glass of wine at any time. No one’s counting the glasses. There’s the dépanneur. And if you want to go on shopping expeditions for groceries, there are weekly buses and full delivery right to your door.

There’s always a nurse on duty and it turns out that our friends’ family doctor is also the hotel’s doctor. He’s now effectively making house calls!

There is a full-service restaurant with white napkins standing up in posh cones. There are two hairdressers and one barber. There’s a movie theatre with comfortable chairs and a listing on the wall. There are gyms with sets of weights optimistically laid out for senior body-builders. There are swimming pools where you have to swim with someone else to keep an eye on you. There are libraries, English and French. And speaking of languages, the two official languages are equally spread out.

So not only are our dear friends freed of the responsibility of running a major family home, they are now living in a hotel with as many services as they want. And if they are ill, there’s always the Second Floor and just along the road there’s the Lakeshore General Hospital. After all, it’s surprising how little you need when you’re living in a hotel.

Of course, we’re not ready for “Retirement by the Park” but not far off. And when you ask about the availability of apartments in this playland hotel, you are informed that there is a lot of turnover. That’s a comfort for the millions of us boomers who’ll be looking for a park to retire by.

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