Meet the Chans: A Couple's First Year in Retirement Living - Alavida Lifestyles


Featuring our residents Mr. and Mrs. Chan from Park Place by Alavida Lifestyles; Illustration by Krisanne Gonsalves. 

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Chan, residents of our Park Place community! Mr. Chan is a retired clinical microbiologist from a teaching hospital and a former professor at the University of Ottawa’s medical school. Mrs. Chan, on the other hand, brings over 25 years of experience as a policy officer in the government. Originally from Hong Kong, they left home to come to Canada to pursue their university studies and embark on a life of exploration that took them to fascinating destinations such as Egypt and Peru. Since joining our community in April 2023, they graciously share with us their journey, insights, and the joys of life in our community.

How have you been enjoying your time here?

Mr. Chan: It has been very nice so far, just as we expected. Our stay has been comfortable, and we appreciate the environment, the rooms, and the services provided. Most of all, the staff has been absolutely wonderful. After being here for a few months, I was asked to chair the committee for the Christmas Gift Fund for the staff. I willingly accepted because the staff do so much for us and we felt it was time to give back and show our appreciation for their hard work. Overall, it has been a great experience!

Can you tell us about your journey moving here?

Mrs. Chan: Before moving into Park Place, we lived in a five-bedroom house.

Mr. Chan: As we approached retirement, our daughter and son-in-law suggested we consider a retirement community. So we tried Ravines for a month, intending to sell our large five-bedroom house. However, due to COVID, selling our house became challenging, so we couldn’t hold the two-bedroom at Ravines. Eventually, when we were able to sell our house, the buyer required a quick move, prompting us to find a suitable place quickly. So we found Park Place – this two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with laundry facilities. Although the space is much smaller, we are getting older and it’s easier for us to move around since there are no stairs. The community offers cooked meals that we don’t have to worry about, and they offer activities such as memory care and physical exercises. 

What activities are your favourite?

Mrs. Chan: Bingo is really fun!

Mr. Chan: Haha yes, there’s also Jeopardy every Friday. In addition to that, Lydia my wife also enjoys crossword puzzles, and that kind of thing, and physical exercise as I’ve mentioned. And there’s also social hours; we just sit and talk and interact with our fellow residents with a glass of wine. 

Mrs. Chan: Oh I enjoy a glass of wine! Haha. 

Can you tell us more about your 1-month trial stay at Ravines?

Mr. Chan: It was pretty good! We followed the advice of our daughter and son-in-law – they told us to try it out to see if we like it or not and we quite liked it. Even if its a much smaller room for the trial period, only one bedroom for the two of us, but we enjoyed it like we enjoy it here [Park Place]. It was wonderful – great activities, and they even have a pool there! But again, because we couldn’t sell our house for a year, we couldn’t hold that room. Eventually, we sold our house and found a place here, which worked out quite well. 

How do you feel about the dining experience?

Mr. Chan: There’s a good variety. In terms of the menu, everyone has a different taste, but as a whole, we enjoy it. Let’s say I don’t quite like the menu that day, we have the option of ordering a la carte. You can choose something that’s regularly available. Let’s say you don’t like spicy foods and they’re serving curry that day or something like that, she could ask for grilled fish and I’d probably ask for a steak and we can share the meal  – then you’ll have surf and turf for the evening!

Mrs. Chan: – Also, our grandkids live close by, so we entertain them in the private dining upstairs, and then go to our room where we can watch TV and play cards together.

Mr. Chan: Our grandchildren enjoy this place a lot. After they came to this place to try their first meal, the eldest at the time (12 years old) – we have 3 grandchildren – she liked it so much she told me “when I retire, I want to come here.” That’s what she said haha! They come often and it’s very nice that Alavida has a private dining room here – we use it almost every week. 

What advice would you give to a couple who has to downsize from a house or someone considering retirement living? 

Mr. Chan: From our experience, I think the advice of trying it out for a month or so first is a good idea. We tried it out, we liked it, so we know what we are looking forward to. I think the unit we’re in is actually a guest suite. When her sister came to visit, we rented this room for her. She spent a few days here and liked it a lot since the rentals here are fully furnished. Try it for a month, shorter or longer stays, doesn’t matter, just see how it is and whether the lifestyle suits you before making the final decision of probably choosing something for good.