DUNDAS COUNTY – In the weeks leading up to the annual Dundas County 50+ Wellness Day which will take place Thursday, October 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners, Sandy Casselman, coordinator for Linking Hands has been talking to seniors about various services available in the community and how those services impact their quality of life.
Alfred (Al) and Winnifred (Winnie) Gorman had been married for 60 years.
They moved to Morrisburg from Montreal, where they had lived most of their lives with their two sons, Steve and Dave.
They chose the South Dundas village because Winnie was originally from the area and her sister was living at Chartwell Hartford.
Leaving their home felt a lot like leaving wonderful family memories, Steve said.
Al and Winnie were each facing mobility issues and it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to do the basic home-care and self-care activities. The Gorman sons broached the subject with their parents, suggesting they would feel better their parents agreed to live at the local retirement residence for at least the winter months.
They could re-evaluate the situation in the spring and they could move back into their home if that was their preference. Steve said the Gorman home’s close proximity to the local retirement residence – a seven-minute walk – helped his parents feel better about the choice.
To convince his father the move made financial sense, Steve did a financial pro and con list. He also told his dad: “You deserve it. You’ve worked hard all your life. We don’t need your money so there’s no need to save it for us.”
The transition, Steve said, was made smooth by the help of Chartwell Hartford’s employees.
Winnie and Al were 83 and 89 years of age, respectively, when they moved to the retirement home. That first month was a happy one for both Al and Winnie. While Al died at the end of that month, Winnie told Steve it was a month of memories she would cherish because Al was “so happy to be at the Hartford.”
After Al died, Steve said the employees “were so good to my mom.” He said it was more than the level of care she received, it was the level of caring and respect she was shown that made the difference.
“They’ve been amazing,” Steve said, noting the chef would make special dinners for his mom when she was sick and couldn’t manage the meal on the main menu.
In addition to praising the employees, Steve said they had amazing relationships with partner agencies, such as the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), J.W. MacIntosh Community Support Centre, and more.
“They worked so well together,” he said. “It’s the beauty of a small town – it’s more of a community.”
Sadly, Winnie died September 13, 2019, less than a year after moving to her new home. Her memorial is set for September 28 in Williamsburg.
When asked why he agreed to do this interview so soon after the death of this mother, Steve said, “the Hartford deserves credit.” He said the employees go above and beyond what they’re paid to do, showing a clear passion for working with the elderly.
If he could change any one thing, he said he would have broached the subject of retirement living with his parents a couple of years earlier than he did.
To learn more about the services available for those living in Dundas County, visit the 50+ Wellness Day event where booths are filled with relevant agency representatives, there will be several presentations, as well as a free lunch. Admission is free.