Ve's Secret for Healthy Ageing
Moving home at any age can be a stressful experience but retiring to a new community when you are older can feel especially isolating and overwhelming. BCR Communities client, 85-year-old Vasanthi (Ve) Rao, knows all about the excitement and challenges that comes with moving, not just to a new community but to a new country.
When she was 29-years-old, Ve moved with her husband Bob and baby daughter from India to England. It was a culture shock and she soon discovered that not everyone in 1960s Birmingham was welcoming to new arrivals - one neighbour refused to acknowledge her for 20 years. Ve said she found her place in her new community through her work as a high school maths teacher and then as the principal of an all-girls school.
After 30 years in the UK, Ve and Bob decided to do it all again, this time retiring to Wollongong Australia to be close to where their daughter was now living. No longer working, the couple threw themselves into volunteering instead and soon built up a large friendship group. They had 17 happy years in Wollongong before starting over yet again in a retirement village in Nowra.
“When we first moved to Nowra, I felt really lonely,” Ve said. “First it was the bushfires and then it was the COVID lockdowns so meeting people was hard.”
“But I’m a naturally happy, outgoing and social person so I just started doing different activities and trying to bring people together with exercise classes, line dancing, sharing food, and going out together.”
“I’m now running a chair exercise group and about 15 people come to the class. We try to keep moving, and we do meditation and mindfulness as well.”
‘Keep moving’ is Ve’s mantra for life and she said she wouldn’t have coped with the recent passing of her beloved husband without keeping active and involved in her retirement community.
“Sometimes older people will immediately say ‘oh no, that is not for me,’ but we have to keep trying new things and keep an open mind,” Ve said.
“Talk to people, communicate, laugh, be social, be friendly and practice mindfulness. When you go out for a walk don’t just walk, use all your senses – look at the clouds, smell the flowers, touch the leaves, taste the berries.”
“Without doing this, I wouldn’t have survived Bob’s passing. If I wasn’t living in a retirement village I would have felt very isolated but there there are many of us in the same boat here and we support each other.”
Ve has in home support from BCR Communities with cleaning and shopping so she can continue living independently in her own home within the retirement village surrounded by her friends.