real life

Beth lost her husband and two sons in 15 months. Now, she's starting a new life at 81.

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If the term ‘roll with the punches’ was in the dictionary, beside it you would see a photo of a woman named Beth.

At 81 years of age, Beth is proving that no matter what you’ve been through, you can always find a way forward and rebuild your life.

But it hasn’t been an easy road. In the last 15 months, she’s experienced three terrible tragedies, seriously hurt her back, and moved home twice before settling into her current home at a Freedom Care Community.

The mum of five (plus three stepchildren) will tell you all of this matter-of-factly, and not expect an ounce of sympathy.

“I lost my husband and two sons,” Beth tells Mamamia. “My husband Peter died the morning of my first son’s funeral. He had cancer. My first son had COPD (a lung disease). The second son, some months later, of liver disease.”

But, according to a very stoic Beth, “that’s in the past”.

After her husband’s death, Beth moved from her family home of 15 years to a smaller unit in Hope Island on the Gold Coast.

“It wasn’t ideal for me to continue to be there, on a quarter acre. The smaller unit was good, because there were no longer stairs to deal with,” Beth recalls.

But then, she seriously hurt her back, and became incapacitated until she healed.

“It wasn’t fair to my kids to have to come and look after me, so I knew there had to be a change. A few years ago, I had seen they were building an independent living facility near me, and I kept an eye on it.

“My daughter had said at the time that I was too young! But after I hurt my back, it was the best option.”

With all the changes that have come with her recent losses, Beth says that moving into the Freedom Tanah Merah in Slacks Creek, Queensland, was one true positive.

“It was a relief,” she says of her one-bedroom unit. “No more pressure on my kids – I really couldn’t get here quick enough.

“I had already downsized from the family home to the unit in Hope Island, so it wasn’t hard to come here.”

Beth describes living at Tanah Merah as “independence with security”.

“Someone comes in and makes my bed and does my floors, and I dine in at the dining centre for lunch. I do my own breakfast and dinner.

“If anything goes wrong, there’s a call button for nurse. The manager is great, everything is fixed straight away.”

freedom aged care
Beth relaxing in her home, with one of her most treasured possessions. Image: supplied.

For Beth, the peace of mind in her independent living situation is just what she needs.

“I wanted to be in this area because I knew it. It’s familiar to drive around in, which I still do,” she shares. “It was always on my mind that I should be here.”

Beth feels strongly that it was the right decision for her, and for her family, especially at a time of such grief in her life.

Starting afresh has also afforded Beth a more active social life she didn't expect to have.

“I’ve made friends here,” she reveals. “I was a bit isolated in my marriage, and this is a fresh start for me.

“I can do all my craft. There’s a real peace here. I don’t have to worry about the bills – everything is taken care of. Relatives can still come and go.

“It’s a very different life to the one I had, but it’s what I needed. I’ve actually been surprised by how relaxed I feel here, and how much I enjoy it.”

Beth says it's a misconception some younger people have about growing older - that it's just no fun.

“They think we’re sitting here waiting to die, but we make a life for ourselves here,” she says. “Yes, it’s a new adjustment to life. And there’s peace and tranquility. But we’re also still interested in getting as much out of it as we can.”

For Beth, her home is wherever she is; as long as she’d got her most-treasured possession with her.

“It’s a porcelain ornament of a draft horse, given to me 61 years by my dad’s sister, my aunt,” she says proudly.

“I will take that with me wherever I go, and that makes it my home.”

If you, your parent or grandparent want to know more about independent living options that give you freedom to live how you want and have 24/7 support, visit Freedom Care Communities' website for more information.

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Live life your way
At Freedom, we encourage you to live life your way. Read a book in the garden, relax at home, join in the many social activities in the community, invite friends and family to lunch or welcome the grandkids to stay. The Choice is yours.
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