Why Peter and Rosemary Smith chose Charters Village.
Peter and Rosemary Smith moved into their Charters Village apartment in January. Rosemary, 79, a former registered nurse, and Peter, 83, a wine importer, moved from their five-bedroom coach house in Forest Row where they had lived for 17 years. Before that, home was Felbridge where they raised their four children. They now have five grandchildren and a great grandson.
Rosemary takes up the story of how they arrived at Charters Village……
“We knew we had to change something; Peter has this short-term memory loss which has now been diagnosed as first stage dementia. The garden was getting on top of him and he is a chap who doesn’t like to see this happening. I could manage the house to a point but we really didn’t have a need for all the space.
“We had a pow-wow with the children and realised the most sensible option was to consider a move to a more manageable property.
“Although it seemed a gamble last February when we signed our first form to put down a deposit here at Charters, I know we did the right thing.
“Peter has always been an independent businessman. His condition has obviously affected that; it has also impacted on our social life. But I am still a very sociable person and this lifestyle allows us the best of both worlds. Peter can be as private as he wants to be, I can be as sociable as I want to be.
“Basically, we want to keep our independence and keep doing things outside of the village and then as time goes on and our world becomes smaller – I may need to give up driving for instance – I can get more involved in village activities. It’s all about a healthy balance.
” Peter and Rosemary’s daughter Judy lives in Australia where this type of retirement lifestyle is much more commonplace. However, it is still regarded as relatively new here in the UK. Many people still assume it means buying into full-time care, others think there is a stigma attached to living in a village of this type, according to Mrs Smith who continues her story:
“I think people fight it off, the idea of getting old and doing something about it. I was astounded a few weeks ago when someone said to me ‘why was I going into a care home when I was such an outgoing and active person,’ I said I am not! This lady just could not understand the difference between a care home and our independent lifestyle.
” Looking ahead, Rosemary added: “I don’t know what is going to happen around the corner and we will undoubtedly need some form of help. Our plan is to buy in care from the nursing home facility here but have it come to our own home, perhaps to give me some help with Peter in the mornings and evenings.
“My background as a nurse means I do want to do this but I accept I may need some additional day care support over time. The way the village operates means this will be possible for us.”
As the village starts to grow, Rosemary says she is really looking forward to the social life:
“To be able to come up and have lunch in the restaurant, not because I don’t want to cook but because it will be nice to bring Peter out. Also, just come and have a coffee and say hello to people, that’s what I’m looking forward to. It will also be good to get a crafts group going, if people are keen to do so.
” Summing up their decision to buy at Charters, Rosemary added finally:
“I still feel at the moment that we chose to come here, we didn’t actually have to come here, I could have coped still, but it’s much, much easier. I think you come to a stage in life where maybe you can’t always do what you want to do, to go and live in a bungalow near the sea and have the beach two minutes away, life isn’t like that. I think you just have to be practical and think about the future while you can make a choice.”