Unstoppable at seventy: proving that age really is just a number
Hertfordshire retiree, James Dargan (78), is a great advocate for staying active in older age and is proof – if ever it was needed – that ‘age is just a number’. After moving to McCarthy Stone’s Retirement Living Plus Edward House in Hertford, James finds he now has all the time (and energy) in the world to enjoy his active lifestyle without limits.
James shows no sign of taking things slow. He begins his mornings with a cup of coffee and a session in the gym, around four times a week, pushing through leg and body weights and blitzing the bike. He says: “I feel great once I’ve finished a workout. I love being active and I’d never considering stopping. I don’t care how old I am.”
It’s clear James has always enjoyed living life at an exciting pace. Married for over 55 years, James and his late wife Judy met at James’ former rugby club in 1963 and were engaged four days later! An old romantic, James couldn’t wait to marry Judy. The couple wed two years later and have two sons.
Growing up in their family home for 47 years, the couple enjoyed their life to the full, taking on a number of sport and fitness challenges. As well as playing Badminton and Squash together in the early years of their marriage, Judy convinced James to begin line dancing 25 years ago in South Carolina, practicing four nights a week to perfect their routines. The couple went on to win gold medals for their quick feet and impressive two step.
James and Judy weren’t just medal winning line dancers, but also madly in love too.
James says: “Judy was a brilliant dancer, much better than me! We always used to play sport together, in fact, we used to do everything together. I’m very lucky that Judy enjoyed sport and fitness as much as I did, because I never stop!”
He continues: “One of my fondest memories is when Judy insisted she wouldn’t start bowling, as she refused to wear the whites.
“That was us, willing to give everything a go, and never give up.”
“As we got older, we began to realise that energy levels weren’t always what they used to be. Maintaining our family home and getting up and down stairs became increasingly difficult for us both.
“Our sons were eager for us to downsize to make our lives easier. It was a difficult decision, having spent so much of our lives in our family home, but we knew this was the best thing for me and for Judy – who was slipping into poor health and living with dementia.
“We went to visit a range of properties, that all had different offerings. We were won over by Edward House. It looked beautiful, had the ideal services, and we were immediately made to feel welcome. Our priority was being together, living somewhere we were happy to call home.”
The couple moved 12 miles from Sawbridgeworth to Edward House in Hertford in December 2018.
Comprising a selection of 57 one and two-bedroom Retirement Living Plus apartments, facilities at Edward House include a stylish communal lounge, ideal for socialising; beautiful landscaped gardens in which to relax; and a guest suite, which provides a comfortable stay for visiting family and friends.
Designed to provide complete peace-of-mind, there is an Estates team on hand around the clock, along with a security entrance system and 24-hour emergency call points. An on-site bistro serves fresh and nutritious meals daily for those who do not wish to cook in their apartments, and domestic and personalised care packages can be tailored to suit individuals.
and James continues to live at Edward House where he values the community around him. He says: “My two sons, Jeremy and Nicholas, have been a tremendous support during this time and really helped me through it all.
“Everyone at Edward House is very friendly. There’s a nice sense of family. We have lunch together as often as we can, and it’s nice to sit down and socialise with a morning coffee. Everything is covered, and I feel completely safe and secure. I know the staff are always there to help, but are a brilliant, warm and non-intrusive team.”
James also recently joined the U3A, which he describes as “brilliant”. He takes regular trips to the theatre and has lunches with the members.
Talking about how his life has changed since he downsized, James says: “Nothing has really changed. The difference is the freedom I have, which allows me to go to the community clubs, exercise at the gym, go on holidays and meet up with friends. Looking after Judy and Care Home visits curtailed my regular gym visits and then lockdown put a stop to my gym activities; however, my gym at The Manor of Groves in Sawbridgeworth reopened and I’m looking forward to getting back to regular workouts.”
McCarthy Stone’s Retirement Living Plus developments offer the over 70s the opportunity to maintain an independent lifestyle, while having access to tailored domestic and personal assistance packages to help them manage their day-to-day lives.
On a final word of advice, James concludes: “Life will change beyond your control, but it’s important to understand the things that are in our own hands. Do the things you can to enjoy life to the fullest, and take it by the horns!”