Revera’s Six Dimensions of Wellness is a holistic approach to health and wellness that includes: physical, social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and community engagement. Over the coming weeks, we will delve into each dimension in closer detail.
It’s 3:30 on Friday afternoon and the weekly dance class is taking place at The Renoir by Revera in Newmarket, Ontario. Dance partners hold each other and glide around the open room to the music of Charlie Pride singing “Crystal Chandelier” as the instructor guides the movements.
The first out of their seats are Derick Harrison, 91, and Wilma Graham, 89. The pair never miss a class if they can help it after having met at the Renoir in 2015. Over those years, their relationship has grown from dance partners to each other’s emotional anchors.
Derick Harrison, 91, and Wilma Graham, 89, enjoy a dance together in their favourite weekly class at The Renoir by Revera.
The couple met after Derick, a Second World War Veteran of the British Royal Navy, returned from a Caribbean vacation. He was settling in for a night’s rest when suddenly from the room next door the laundry machine started making a racket. Not knowing who his new neighbour was, he called the front desk who then asked the neighbour to wait until morning to finish up. With peace and quiet restored, Derick settled back into bed when a knock came from his door. Slightly annoyed he opened it to find a lovely woman standing there in her night gown who promptly apologized for the disturbance. It was Wilma.
A person’s emotional health is often difficult to recognize. Jaime Robertson is the Director of Recreation at The Renoir and works with residents to tap into their soul and discover what they need to reinforce a positive self-image. “A lot of the time it’s the one you didn’t know that you needed until you work on it.”
Robertson describes emotional health as a moment of finding yourself and discovering what it means to see the value in life no matter a person’s age. It’s a journey of constant self-improvement and the joy of learning. “Emotional health is about being able to make a mistake again and learning to be vulnerable. When you succeed while being vulnerable it really helps with self-confidence.”
That vulnerability happened a week after the laundry incident when Wilma passed Derick in the hallway and asked him if he’d like to join her for a glass of wine. “From that day forward, she’s provided the wine and I drink it,” he says with a big grin.
The benefits of emotional wellbeing are amplified when worked on with others. “For couples here, especially ones who met at the residence or later in life, their understanding of a relationship is totally different,” says Robertson. “The bonds they build with each other are so meaningful.”
“I didn’t think much of this place when I first moved in,” says Wilma. “Meeting Derick has helped with the adjustment. It’s nice to have the company in the evening and someone to talk to and share stories with. It helps to keep us young,” Wilma says.
“As you age the superficial things don’t matter as much. The person that you are is the person that others will remember,” says Robertson. “For me, the biggest win is when someone tries something they hadn’t done before and they say, ‘that was fun.’”
Derick and Wilma are leading active lives together thanks to their relationship. “Back when we first got together, a friend of mine sent me an email and asked if I wanted to go to Sandals in September. I told him ‘I’ve met a very nice young lady’ and to be honest it’s changed my life,” says Derick. “It’s changed my life too,” Wilma agrees.
Derick and Wilma have found a companion in each other as well as a refreshed outlook on life.