If you want something to make you believe in love this Valentine’s Day, then you’re in the right place. To celebrate Cupid’s holiday, we searched for couples in all our elderly care facilities to share their love story. We found a pair of love birds whose story puts a new meaning to the marriage vows ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health’.
Their story was shared through the lens of Jenny, the wife of one of our first-ever residents at Halmer Court. Speaking on the initial struggles of having her husband, George, in residential care and how she’s found a way to use her creativity to spend time with him.
Jenny and George met at a party in London, ‘and the rest is history’ as she puts it. After their courtship, they tied the know in December 1987. As their marriage went on in years, George developed dementia and started to need more care. Jenny recalls the conversations she had with both of their doctors, recommending her husband receive full-time residential care, as she couldn’t continue to be the sole carer for George.
She began to search for care homes but didn’t see any that were the perfect match, nearby The Birds Pub was acquired, demolished and in its place was the soon-to-be Glenholme facility, Halmer Court. Jenny described the care home as a “nice and modern building”, that she saw being erected from the ground up. Upon Halmer Court opening its doors to the public, George was one of the first residents to stay, followed by another resident six days later.
Although she has no worries about him being at the home and says “he’s very well looked after and his dementia is understood”, Jenny admitted to finding the transition tough, and was very sad at the beginning. Their distance and what was now the new normal were overcome when she began to volunteer at the home on a weekly basis. Jenny has now become such a fundamental part of Halmer’s fixture of activities for the residents. She volunteers her time and uses many creative expressions to engage the residents; these include wheelchair arm exercises, festive card-making and flower arrangement demonstrations.
Her desire to stay connected and close to George whilst giving back to the community of residents is truly something special.
Last year they celebrated their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary at Halmer Court. The couple, who only ever enjoyed a glass of red wine throughout their marriage unless they had guests, were able to host a small group of people. Jenny pointed out how all the visitors were “impressed with the home” as it is a “lovely building”. They supplied some bottles of red and enjoyed gathering with all the residents, close family & friends.
Jenny found it was important for her to celebrate their milestone anniversary, as she was frank about not knowing how many more they’d have left together, and commemorating love in each special moment that life allows.
When asked, after thirty-six years of marriage, what is one piece of marriage advice you’d like to give?
The answer was short and sweet: It’s a give and take, marriage is all about giving and taking.