‘Living well, ageing well’ #2: Decide to live a happy life

By HBH - 14 November 2018

‘Living well, ageing well’ #2: Decide to live a happy life

In our last article, HBH Senior Living CEO, Bonnie Robinson, talked about the importance of maintaining a good attitude as you age. In this issue, we meet someone who knows first-hand the power of positive thinking – HBH Resident, Lesley Charles.

Aged 81 years, Lesley has lived at HBH Senior Living for 3 years. As for many seniors, it wasn’t an easy decision to move from her home. “Being so independent has its downside, as I was very determined to remain at home. However, I had five falls within six months so that made the decision for me. Now, I really enjoy it here. I’ve made some wonderful friends and I’m glad I made the move.”

When Lesley arrived at HBH Senior Living, she initially needed quite a lot of help due to her recent falls. But one day she thought, “I can do more for myself now.” And that sums up Lesley’s positive spirit – she certainly makes the most of every day and keeps herself active and busy.

“It’s important to join in – I don’t want to stay in my room all day and it’s very easy to keep yourself busy here. I’ve got things on three days a week. I love playing cards and bingo. The college kids come and join in sometimes – it’s great fun. The lady next door, Isabel, and I get on like a house on fire. I want to make the most of every minute while I can.”

Lesley’s optimistic, independent attitude has always stood her in good stead. Born with Cerebral Palsy, she has worked hard to ensure it never held her back. “I have always managed without help. My mother had me walking between 1 and 2 years and once I got going, I was away!”

“I’m proud of what I can do with my Cerebral Palsy. Even when I was working and raising my children, it never held me back. I learnt to knit (even though my hands and arms were affected by CP) and I learnt to drive a car – I got my licence when I was 34 years old.”

After leaving school, Lesley worked as a punch card operator and saved over a thousand pounds which her solicitor father wisely invested for her. “I’ve always been a good saver,” she tells us. At that time, she met a woman with TB who encouraged her to attend the 64 Club (a club for disabled people). There, she met her future husband and they soon married and had two children, a girl and a boy.

She says that father was “dead set” against her getting married, but again that independent streak surfaced and they married. After her children were born, they moved to Pakuranga and enjoyed several happy years together when their children were young.

When the marriage came to an end, Lesley’s positive spirit got her through. “I was sad when it was over, but I just got on with it. I was always a very independent and determined woman and the children and I managed just fine.”

These days, Lesley is the only sibling left in her family as both of her brothers have passed away, but as always, she doesn’t let this get her down. When asked if she had any advice for the next generation, not surprisingly, it’s all positive.

“Keep well and healthy and live a balanced life,” she tells us. “Be careful with money and stay out of trouble but enjoy life! And get along – people get bees in their bonnets over all sorts of things – decide you’re going to live a happy life and don’t dwell on things.”

‘Living well, ageing well’ is a series of articles profiling the lives and sharing the stories of HBH Senior Living’s residents, staff and families, and the life lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Lisa Waldren