At age 93, Mearn likes to stay on the move with two daily walks and enjoys socialising with fellow residents and staff at Frances Hodgkins Retirement Village.
She remembers when she and others from the village started walking the streets of St Clair, soon after she moved into the village in January 2003.
In the early days, Mearn was an independent resident and more recently has loved living in a serviced apartment.
She chose to sell her property with a garden and big front lawn and move to the village where she says the staff have always been friendly and the residents enjoy each other’s company.
Originally Mearn was from Timaru and did her early schooling at Waimataitai Primary. She then went to Shirley Intermediate and Avonside Girls’ High School in Christchurch. She is proud of her Scottish family name of Stewart. She later did secretarial work for a Christchurch-based shipping firm and raised a family. Her two daughters now live in Wellington and Outram, on the Taieri plain.
Mearn’s relationship with her two daughters remains strong. When she was travelling, she lived for a period in Iran with her oldest daughter and son-in-law, who worked as a High Commission
diplomat in the Middle East, and was able to visit centres like Dubai and also spent time in Europe. She loved being able to lock up and leave her Frances Hodgkins apartment while she
continued to explore overseas. When she had a health issue she moved to a serviced apartment, a decision she has never regretted.
In some ways she enjoys the serviced apartment even more than her independent apartment. “In fact, I like it better – you don’t have to do so much work.” She also enjoys the friendly morning and afternoon teas that are hosted at the village. “Another reason I like the serviced apartment is that we do things together, [for example] we make things for the children in the Dunedin hospital.” She’s always been an avid reader and likes that there is an extensive village library located in the main apartment complex, plus the village receives weekly visits from a book bus. The library and other village communal areas provide wonderful sunny views across South Dunedin to Otago Harbour.
Sales Advisor Kate says that those who move into a serviced apartment find that some of their worries about day to day challenges are taken away. For example, residents love having a meal cooked for them. For Mearn, the daily meal in the village dining room brings back memories of when she was a child and the family would sit down for their main meal together. “I enjoy the meals; the meals are lovely here.”
She also loves the regular contact with staff to ensure her treatments and medications are kept up to date. “They’re absolutely wonderful, you couldn’t get a better group of staff. They’ve been very good with me.” Mearn has long been a participant in Ryman’s Triple A exercise programme. She likes that she is able to adapt within the programme and continue to exercise despite having low blood pressure. “I always believed in exercise. I also always walk a quarter of
an hour in the morning and a quarter of an hour in the afternoon. I can do it inside
the village if it’s not nice, but I go outside if the weather is okay.” Situated in Fenton Crescent,
Frances Hodgkins has magnificent views over the city to Forbury Park and down to St Clair beach. The living options include architecturally designed independent apartments, serviced
apartments and a resthome, all within beautifully landscaped gardens. Amenities also include a
lovely dining room, a well used conservatory, a bar and a hair salon.