Story and photos by MARISSA BODILY
Winnifred Jardine is 94 years old and still living in the same home that she and her husband raised their five children in.
She has lived in her home in East Millcreek for 50 years.
Jardine sits in her office surrounded by pictures of her family, books and her computer with large print. She jokes with her granddaughter, Martha Jardine, and recalls memories and details from years ago.
She begins her day with an aide waking her up and getting her breakfast. The aide reads her the obituaries and editorials and they go over the news. “Today the aide never came and I got up on my own,” Jardine said smiling. “That’s a big no no.” She is not supposed to get out of bed and get ready without someone there to help her.
Then, she said she takes a two- or three-hour nap. “Doesn’t that just sound heavenly?”
After her nap, a neighbor fixes her lunch and reads with her until her granddaughter Martha comes over. “Martha and I have a little routine. We read together and then I do my things on my computer and she does her thing,” Jardine said. Right now they are reading Elaine Cannon’s biography together. Cannon was a former general president of the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jardine writes letters on her computer and corresponds with friends from college and friends from when her late husband, Stu, was in the Navy. She has also started writing a journal. “I have to type it because no one can read my handwriting,” Jardine said.
She is also working on getting her Young Womanhood Recognition with her 17-year-old neighbor. The award is given by the LDS church after fulfilling several requirements, such as doing service and memorizing scriptures.
“I want something to do,” Jardine said. “I don’t want my brain to die.”
Jardine was a food editor for the Deseret News for 36 years before she retired.
The family has a monthly schedule for taking care of Jardine. Everyone’s name is highlighted in green or red or purple on the calendar so they know who is supposed to be with Jardine.
“My daughter is so determined that I am not going to be here alone,” Jardine said. It’s a complicated schedule, but it works.
“Everyone has their own life and their own circle of friends, but this has really brought them together and increased the love,” she said.
Jardine has five children, 14 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren with three on the way. She is very proud of her posterity.
Jardine’s granddaughter, Martha, walks a couple of miles from her apartment to come take care of her every day. “The aides are always telling me that so many people don’t have family that is so willing to take care of them like Win does,” Martha Jardine said.
Jardine is among the growing number of older adults who are choosing to age at home. Eighty percent of seniors prefer to grow old in their own homes, according to AARP. Aging in place is when a person stays in the place that they’ve always lived as opposed to moving to an assisted-living facility or care center. It is becoming more possible for aging people to stay in their homes due to personal alert systems, non-slip floor surfaces, bathroom grab bars and other safety features that are becoming more widely available.
In addition, other organizations can help those who want to age in place by providing rides to and from medical appointments and meals brought to their homes. An aide brings Jardine breakfast and dinner every day.
“No one’s goal is to go to a nursing home,” said Anne Palmer Peterson, executive director of the Utah Commission on Aging. Because of services like these, it is becoming increasingly feasible for the aging population to stay in their homes instead of having to live in a nursing home or care center. Opportunities to meet other people through activities at senior centers are also available.
A new phone system that is connected to every room was just installed in Jardine’s home, Martha Jardine said. She also has a phone that is attached to a microphone that dictates what she says and allows her to send letters and see what someone on the other end of the phone is saying to her.
“I don’t see or hear very well anymore,” Jardine said.
The new technology helps to ease her family’s mind. However, “it is all the caretakers that have made it possible for me to stay at home for so long,” she said.
“Stu and I always hoped we could stay in our home and our kids are honoring that,” Jardine said. “Everything has worked out remarkably and I am so blessed.”