Real-life connections building real-world solutions
Four years ago, Don Nightingale had a stroke. This left him with decreased mobility, and he and his wife Mary decided it was time for Don to move into long-term care. They decided on University Gates Long-Term Care home, a partner and neighbour of the RIA.
Don shares, “I love it here. It’s a little village, where hallways have street names and we can go to the library and the gym, just like any town! Every morning right after breakfast I do my NuStep program in the gym and work on my fitness. I trust everyone here. They know that I want to die here—the doctors and nurses know that and there is a list of what I want my doctors to know over at the nursing station. I also love the work we do with the RIA.”
The RIA has a special relationship with the residents and team members at University Gates. While research, education and knowledge mobilization occur in partnership with homes across Ontario and Canada, our neighbours at University Gates are often the first to work with us on exciting new research projects and residents and their families have formed close friendships with our researchers and team members. Don is one of those individuals, and his involvement with the RIA is strong.
“I’m part of the (the RIA’s) Make a New Old Friend program where I meet medical students and just talk. Emily is my New Old Friend now, and we meet once a month. I’m positively proud that she’s considering Geriatric Medicine because of meeting me. I think that it helps young students and future doctors see older people differently. I also talk to graduate engineering students with the RIA and they even get me speaking at local schools and have students come and see us here. All because of the RIA.”
Don’s wife and care partner Mary Buhr Nightingale has also become part of the RIA community. While she does not live at University Gates, she is a regular face around the building. Her contributions to education and research at the RIA have been incredibly valuable.
“I was very pleased to be part of the Caregiver Think Tank with the RIA” says Mary. “The RIA has given our life a new direction, a direction we never would have taken. One student met me and Don and told us that we were a really optimistic and happy couple. That was pretty beautiful. It touches my heart because these young people are listening to our experiences. We feel really valued here. The people here are kind and they want to help. I’m also happy to help. I donate to the RIA because I’m impressed with the work they do. Research on aging is really important, so that we can create the best way of life for men like Don. And it’s urgent too, isn’t it? The system is strained now with our age group, how can they cope with the upcoming baby boomers? I feel good knowing that I’m doing my part.”
Thanks to folks like Don and Mary, the RIA maintains a strong connection to the people we serve. Their dedication inspires our team to continue to work for older adults everywhere.