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Local retirement lodge grants resident's musical wish

Muriel Anderson receives ukulele and lessons through Better Late Than Never program; 'I’m going to enjoy my life even if it kills me,' she says
2019-04-23 Muriel Anderson ukulele
Muriel Anderson is learning to play the ukulele at age 84. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters

Some seniors have big adventures they want to cross off their bucket lists, like skydiving and walking the Great Wall of China.

Muriel Anderson’s goal is different: learn to play the ukulele.

Anderson, a resident at the Leacock Retirement Lodge in Orillia, saw the Washago Ukulele Band perform and she was inspired.

“They’re all seniors and I thought, ‘This is great. Maybe I could try that, give it a whirl anyway,’” said Anderson.

She found the perfect opportunity in the Better Late Than Never program offered at Jarlette Health Services’ long-term-care and retirement residences, including the Leacock Retirement Lodge.

“I think it’s wonderful that people would even think of that,” said Anderson, who will be 84 in July. “No matter how old we get, we’re still young at heart. I’m going to enjoy my life even if it kills me.”

It’s no secret to the lodge’s staff and fellow residents that Anderson has a zest for life. She’s always on the move, finding ways to occupy her time.

Every Tuesday, she takes her place at the piano and leads residents in a singalong. She also cares for Jack, her husband of 66 years, who has vascular dementia. The couple moved to the lodge two years ago.

Given her dedication to her husband and her fellow residents, staff were excited to be able to give back.

When Anderson made her request to the Better Late Than Never program, recreation co-ordinator Allie Gordon took her downtown for lunch and then to Gilbert Guitars.

It didn’t take long for Anderson to find the ukulele she wanted. She loves to wear purple, and the purple ukulele quickly caught her attention.

The lodge paid for the instrument and will also cover the cost of lessons.

“I’m hoping I can play by ear, just like I do on the piano,” Anderson said.

This is the local lodge’s first year providing the Better Late Than Never program. While the residents’ requests vary, they all show a desire to try something new.

“Some people, when they get older, they just think, ‘There’s nothing I can do,’” Anderson said. “You’ve got to keep moving or you’ll seize up.”

The Leacock Retirement Lodge makes sure there are plenty of opportunities for residents to stay active and engaged.

“A lot of people view retirement and long-term-care homes as an end-of-life stage,” Gordon said. “We’re just changing where we create memories.”


Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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