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‘Stay curious.’ 2 seniors share their thoughts on aging well

Road to Berwick: A book club, a writing group, and new friends at Berwick by the Sea
Janet Lancey (left) and Glennis Zilm moved into Berwick by the Sea around the same time this summer, and soon started both a book club and a creative writing group.

Janet Lancey says that when she moved into Berwick by the Sea earlier this summer, she brought the same enthusiasm and energy to the retirement community that she’d brought to other aspects of her life.

“It’s the way I approach life, I think. I’m always looking for ways to make things better.”

So when she met Glennis Zilm, who’d moved into Berwick by the Sea just a few weeks’ prior, the two soon started brainstorming about events they could organize together. Each of them credits the other with leading the way, but the end result is a growing literary scene at the retirement residence.

“I lived in a condo in Coquitlam for 28 years and had a thriving book club there,” Lancey says. “Unlike most book clubs, we all read our own books and give a little synopsis of the things we’ve read. You learn to appreciate different authors and topics, and exchange books.”

The Berwick by the Sea Book Club has grown in the last few months, and so has the Creative Writing group Lancey and Zilm started.

“These people are absolutely wonderful writers, in my opinion,” says Zilm, who was a journalist with Canadian Press in the 60s and 70s, and once toured the arctic with Governor General Roland Michener. “Some of us have health problems, but because we’re here at Berwick we can still do a lot of things. We have an enthusiastic group that really want to do creative writing, share it, and get some constructive criticism.”

“We’re old, but we’re not old inside,” Lancey says. “I asked a friend of mine, ‘What’s the secret to aging well?’ She’s a wonderful 90-year-old woman; on the go all the time. She said the secret is curiosity. We all have our days — sometimes my asthma slows me down — but it’s important to stay curious.”

Find your home at Berwick by the Sea

Halfway though our phone call, Zilm answers a knock at the door; it’s a member of the Berwick staff dropping off clean bed linens and towels, a weekly service included in her rent.

“I think this must be what it’s like living in one of the bedrooms in Buckingham Palace!” she jokes.

Zilm moved into Berwick by the Sea after a hospital stay earlier this year. It became too difficult to grocery shop, prepare a meal, eat a meal and do the dishes all in one day — and she’s happy to report that the meals at Berwick are excellent.

“I could have moved in sooner. I think if I’d moved into Independent Living earlier, I could have prevented some of the health problems that occurred,” she says.

It took Lancey a few weeks to adjust to her new home. Berwick’s Ambassador program matches every new resident with a more experienced resident to ease the transition, and everyone she met was very friendly, but building relationships took time.

“I made myself go and sit with people if there was a spare seat. Someone told me to go on the bus trips, and I took their advice. Things have really come together — I’m feeling a lot more settled,” she says.

Lancey and Zilm continue to be curious, and continue to look outward. And while life is settled at Berwick by the Sea, they’re not done exploring.

“The other night I went into the dining room and there were two people at a table for four, so I asked if I could join them. They were from Berwick Parksville, and were staying in the Berwick by the Sea guest suite. They’re spending three days here just to see what it’s like and have a mini vacation. I can go down to visit Victoria, and book a stay in the Berwick guest suite there,” Zilm says.

Berwick Retirement Communities are both locally and family owned offering flexible, upscale and affordable senior living options in a caring community. All inclusive studio suites start at $2985 per month*. Staff and residents of Berwick by the Sea are always happy and proud to show off their home. To learn more or book a tour, call Callinda John at 250-914-8055 or email Follow Berwick on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates!

*Subject to change. Contact Berwick by the Sea for details.