It was quite an adjustment for Hazel Atkinson when she first walked through the doors at Woodport Retirement Village.
She had been living in her own family home for some time until about four years ago, when she decided to move into one of the independent living units at the retirement village in Erina.
'When I first came to Woodport, I came from my family home and I'd been a gardener all my life,'
'So gardening really was the best part of my transition. Moving from being used to my own space and place to a different environment.'
The 76-year-old said she didn't think twice when she saw an opportunity to contribute and be more active at the village.
'As soon as I moved in, I saw an opportunity to help out with areas at Woodport. While we have gardeners there who do the lawns and hedging, there are flower gardens which gardeners or landscapers - generally speaking aren't particularly interested in. But I have always been interested in growing flowers and looking after them,' she said.
'Now, I'm down there every single day to work on the gardens and it's made a huge difference to my mental attitudes. The fact that I am able to still do what I love, even though I'm living in a different environment - it's just great.'
Village Manager, Sue Frost said the village of 66 units offers a true sense of belonging and freedom of choice with a range of lifestyle opportunities where residents can be as active and involved as they wish.
'There are lots of benefits for our residents who like to garden, whether they take on huge projects, like Hazel, or smaller ones outside their units. They all take pride in keeping them healthy and it keeps them busy enjoying outside fresh air and sunshine,' she said.
'Hazel does most of the gardening and the village green looks beautiful at the moment with all the flowers blooming and very colourful. Other residents keep pots outside the front of their units, some have many and others have a few, so each resident can do as much or as little as they like.'
Ms Frost added that it's also quite common for residents to feel uneasy when they first move into the village.
'Downsizing is hard for most people so having a little space to do the same as you did in your own home makes is easier to make the transition,' she said.
'What's great at Woodport is that our retirement village provides the freedom, space and convenience to live life the way you want, at your own pace, on your terms. Without any worries for you and your family, you can retain your independence for longer.'
Hazel agrees that being active in the gardens has made a world of difference to her.
'I think it's definitely a great benefit and gardening is one of the best things you can do. Most of our units at Woodport are built around a village green. Overall, it has a positive effect on most people - even for people who aren't so hands-on. That's what's so great about it. Every season brings its own joy as the flowers bloom at different times of the year for people to enjoy, she said.
For more information about Woodport Retirement Village, visit our website
agedcare.salvos.org.au or call 02 4365 9373.