Building a community through independent living

Carol Boyd wanted to live in a community setting with light support, and she wanted her independence.

She found it at Covenant Living’s Evanston Summit in Calgary.

“I really love the fact that I can make my own decisions and come and go as I please.”

She’s called the independent living community home for more than three years. It’s not her first time at a seniors’ community, since she used to live in an assisted living facility with her husband, who had Alzheimer’s disease.

“My husband died from Alzheimer’s, and it was a 12-year stretch,” says Carol. “After taking care of my husband, I really wanted to live in an environment where I could have an independent mindset.” 

She came to Evanston Summit through her connection with the in-house chef, whom she met at a previous seniors’ community. 

“I can honestly say I have not had a bad day, and I attribute this to the staff,” says Carol.

“They are always smiling. Even underneath their masks, their eyes are smiling. They treat you with respect, kindness and understanding.”  

The people-oriented senior likes to live within a community but loves that she is still able to retreat to the privacy of her suite. “My room has a stacked washer and dryer in the bathroom, and that is huge for me because I don’t like waiting to do my laundry.” She says, however, that she likes the convenience of having her bed made by the housekeeping staff.   

Michelle Charlesworth, resident experience director, says residents at Evanston Summit must be able to manage on their own. “We’re a non-designated supportive living community. We provide hospitality, and we have a concierge but not care services.” Residents requiring additional home care can arrange for someone to come in to help them with their health-related needs.  

Carol, like many residents, has some health issues. “I have COPD with asthma, a heart condition, macular degeneration and occasional arthritis, and I use a walker, but I get along fine,” says the spry 87-year-old, who is an active resident council member.

Carol is also part of a knitting group at Evanston Summit that makes blankets for premature babies and young children and donates them to the Calgary chapter of Project Linus Canada. “We’ve taken 93 to them and are making 20 more!” Her group also knits prayer shawls for residents in need. 

“There’s always something going on,” adds Carol.

Recently, staff arranged for residents to visit Dollarama and Michaels craft store on a private bus donated by the Covenant Foundation. Victoria Slany, a lifestyle coordinator who organizes these opportunities, says the residents have embraced their community and formed firm friendships since they do many things together, such as eating and socializing.    

Though Carol once lived with her husband in a big house with a huge garden, she says Evanston Summit is now her home. “I have made good friends at the dinner table, and I am truly happy here. I hope I can stay here for the rest of my life.”

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