Since moving into a light-filled villa at Ryman’s Charles Brownlow Retirement Village, Fran and Jack Kohnert’s visitors have had one question.
‘Are you happy?’
‘Yes’ is their simple and honest answer.
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The former Rippleside residents first came to learn about Ryman Healthcare when they were researching aged care options for Fran’s late father.
“Later, when the stairs at our two storey place were getting to be a bit of a problem for me, Fran looked through her findings and Ryman sounded a very responsible company with figures that not just matched the others, but surpassed them,” Jack says.
Fran and Jack signed on the dotted line at a public meeting about the village, following conversations with residents from Ryman’s Nellie Melba Retirement Village in Wheelers Hill, and residents from New Zealand villages.
“Their experiences sounded very good to us,” Fran says.
“During the meeting Ryman staff talked about the gym and the workshop and the dining facilities, and it sounded terrific.”
Having led very active lives, Fran as a teacher for about 40 years, and Jack as an electrical engineer and competitive cyclist, it’s no surprise the couple want to stay busy.
“I think getting older is a state of mind,” Fran says.
“You’ve got to keep enjoying things like your books, your theatre and your films.
“The villa is beautiful, and there are some lovely people here, we’ve made some good friends.”
Whenever the weather allows, Jack doesn’t miss an opportunity to join friends for a ride.
“Growing up in Germany my grandfather owned a bike shop, so whenever it was convenient I spent my holidays in his shop, and once you grow up with cycling you come to really enjoy it,” he says.
Jack has New South Wales cycling championships to his name, as well as winning the Australian Masters Games road cycling race in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
“My cycling buddies and I call ourselves the ‘Men’s Shed on Wheels’ because it’s a bit of riding and then we have a coffee break, and then we ride back, so it’s the social aspect we like.”
Fran has had friends from Melbourne stay, with some wanting to get a taste of village life.
“They’re asking very close questions about this place, and the thing that comes up regularly is about the availability of ongoing care.
“You can’t ignore that because even if you are strong and healthy one day, life can change so rapidly."
With the peace of mind that comes from knowing should their needs change, care is onsite, Fran and Jack are enjoying the social aspect of village life.
“We’ve had drinks at other people’s houses, and we’ve had afternoon teas, I’ve been invited for walks down by the Barwon, and I frequently walk down to the shopping centre,” Fran says.
Her advice for others considering a similar move is clear.
“Go into it optimistically, with positivity and joy.
“You have to have the right mindset.”
Photo by Charles Brownlow porter, Nick Bond.