Homer Neufeldt has been in Chilliwack B.C for nearly 88 years. He’s seen the city grow from a small agricultural town to a bustling extension of Vancouver, even helping it along in its growth as a central figure in the building supply business.
He and his wife Jean were constantly on the move over the years, always building new houses and flipping them as they moved from one to another. He jokes that any time Jean wanted to change the colour of a wall, he’d say: ‘Well good, we’ll just go on and build another house and put that colour in.’
“You have to keep moving because there’s always something else out there,” Homer says.
In November 2018, Homer made what he hopes will be his last move in life when he joined the small community at Chilliwack Lifestyles, a quaint retirement setting surrounded by lovely gardens and walking trails under a canopy of tall trees. Jean wasn’t at his side to help him with this decision, however, for she died in 2016.
They’d spent a lifetime together and after her passing, Homer had to learn the basics for himself – how to cook, take care of his laundry and keep the house tidy. He gained a new appreciation for all that his beautiful wife did throughout the years, and without her he was lonely. He didn’t like vacuuming and he didn’t much like being on his own, so he began looking into retirement communities.
Chilliwack Lifestyles stood out immediately, he says, mostly because of the design and living arrangements. He likes how the community is arranged in three separate buildings, each housing 14 residents in their own suites with a communal dining area and living space.
“It’s very much like home,” he says, “but there are all these other people I can meet with. We’re in a park-like area with our own streams and little lakes and walking trails and little bridges.”
“It’s better than I ever thought it would be,” he says.
He can be on his own in his own suite if he so desires or he can sit in front of the fireplace chatting with his new friends. The dining hall is alight with activity during mealtimes, and the company seems to make the meals even finer.
“All in all, we have a really good time,” he says, and there’s a sense that the neighbours are there to support each other. For someone like Homer, who has always enjoyed the company of other people, that sense of emotional support is a great comfort, as is the knowledge that the staff in the home are there if they need help in other ways.
“There’s a lot of comfort for me in this way,” Homer says, adding that he would recommend the move to anyone in a similar situation. “I don’t have to think about a thing – everything is all done for me.”