Extendicare Stoneridge Manor

Timeless tales: Uncover the secrets to long-lasting love in long-term care

Joe and Irene, 2024Joe and Irene on their wedding day, 1949Don and MaxineIrene and Elton

What’s the secret to finding a love that stands the test of time?

We recently spoke with three couples living in our long-term care homes to learn about their love stories and the advice they have for others.

Read on for three touching stories that have stolen our hearts.

Joe and Irene, London, ON: Married 74 years

“I met the guy the I am going to marry.”

All it took was one conversation on a porch swing with Joe, for Irene to tell her parents that she had met her forever love. “It really was love at first sight,” recalls Irene.

"We fell in love and have remained in love ever since," says Joe.

More than 70 years later, their life together at Extendicare Elmwood Place is full of laughter and companionship: couples' lunches, pasta dinners, bingo nights, and everything in between.

“I love how much they care for each other. Joe is always there to support Irene, even with the progression of her dementia,” says Sarah Hind, Director of Care at Elmwood Place. “A love like theirs is inspiring.”

It all started when Joe’s sister played cupid and introduced him to Irene. Johnny Pride's melodies provided the soundtrack to their romance, and it wasn't long before Joe knew Irene was “the one”.

“I never thought I would ever fall in love, but then everything changed when I met Irene,” says Joe. “Love hit me like a bucket of bolts.”

Their wedding day, July 30, 1949, was a testament to their love. Thinking back to when the church doors opened to reveal Irene in her beautiful wedding gown, Joe remembers feeling like “the luckiest man alive”, as he stood at the altar.

“The best thing I have ever done is marry Irene”, says Joe.

As they approach their 75th anniversary, Joe and Irene say they have the secret to long-lasting love: honesty and a daily declaration of "I love you."

Don and Maxine, Paris, ON: Married 62 years

“I just knew she was ‘The One’,” Don says as he reflects on why he got down on one knee and proposed to Maxine.

The Telfer Place residents have a heartwarming love story which began more than 60 years ago when Maxine accompanied Don to a dinner and dance organized by their local Lion’s Club chapter in Exeter, ON.

“It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship,” says Don, who is now 98.

The lovebirds say their secret to long-lasting love is to find time to spend quality time with your partner doing activities you both enjoy.

Since the beginning of their relationship, Don and Maxine have prioritized quality time together participating in activities and hobbies that they both enjoy. In their younger years, a lot of their time together was spent at their local curling club, singing in church choirs, and traveling. Fast forward to today and the couple still prioritizes quality time by having a cup of tea together each morning and participating in the recreation activities at Telfer place, such as bingo.

“Even though we have been married for more than 60 years, our relationship feels like it always has,” says Maxine, a spry 92-year-old. “I love him just as much today as I did on the day we got married.”

Their love is contagious to many team members and residents.

“They are both so lovely to talk to. I have known them for many years. I always see them being friendly to everyone that lives and works here,” says Laura, the home’s program manager. “They smile at everyone they see and are very friendly. Everyone enjoys their company.”

This Valentine’s Day, Don and Maxine will attend a Valentine’s Day Musical Party, organized by the team members at Telfer Place.

Elton and Irene, Kitchener, ON: Married eight years

Forest Heights long-term care home is celebrating the love story of residents Irene and Elton – a love that reunited them eleven years ago when the pair were in their 80s.

In the years that followed each losing their spouses, they found solace in one another's company.

Their courtship began after Irene’s impromptu visit to Elton’s home in New Hamburg. Their relationship grew and a year later, Irene made the decision to move in with Elton, which marked a new chapter together.

"We received the news of Irene and Elton’s intimate wedding ceremony, held in their living room, via email," says Amber, Irene’s granddaughter. "Irene’s childhood friend had the honor of being their witness."

Irene and Elton eventually moved to Forest Heights Long-Term Care Home, in the fall of 2022.

“You can always find them sitting together watching TV or just enjoying each other's company,” says Emma Ducharme, Recreation Aide. “Often giving each other a cheeky grin!”

Both Irene and Elton are living with dementia, and although it has had an impact on their memories, the love they have for each other continues to blossom showing that it is possible to find love, at any age.