Don McLennan stays healthy in mind, body and spirit at Amberlea

Don McLennan has spent exactly one year at Baptcare’s Amberlea residential aged care community. He has always lived life on his own terms. At 88, this hasn’t changed – and why should it?

Don McLennan Baptcare Residential Aged Care

“I enjoy being here, and the food is very good,” Don said. “But I’m not really a people person, so I keep to myself and do my own thing.”

For the past 30 years Don lived a quiet life near Noojee. “I had been managing motels in Bright, Port Macquarie and Frankston and after that finished I wanted to get away from all the busyness.

“We moved to a dead-end road in the most beautiful countryside. It was a great place to live.”

Don was born in Mildura but his family moved frequently, following the demands of his father’s work in the air force. At 15 Don left school and embarked on a building apprenticeship in Ballarat, leading to several decades of work in construction.

Despite always working hard, when he moved to Bright to run a motel Don was dismayed at how puffed he felt walking uphill. Determined to remedy the situation, he started running at the age of 43 and kept at it for the next 40 years.

He ran marathons, entered trail running events and was an early competitor in the Alpine Climb, requiring participants to run up each of Mount Bogong, Mount Porepunkah, Mount Feathertop, Mount Hotham and Mount Buffalo over five successive days.

His running years are behind him, but Don continues to believe in the power of staying active, and takes a walk from Amberlea around the pretty streets of Drouin every day.

His wellbeing practice also extends beyond the physical. “I meditate for between one and one-and-a-half hours every day. The meditation has been a long term thing. It is so subtle. You look back on yourself, there are things that have just dropped away, and you may not have realised that was happening at the time. It’s fascinating.”

Wide reading is another of Don’s great pleasures. “I have always been interested in spirituality, and still enjoy reading things towards it,” Don said. He has several books by Carl Jung close at hand in his Amberlea room.

“I’ve read them for years but still can’t understand them,” he laughed.

He revels in the access to the trove of books at Amberlea, and also spends time at the library, with Australian history and bush literature favourite categories, as well as the occasional Agatha Christie.

While Don enjoys his own company, he is also delighted that his room is next door to an old friend, Lesley. “We spend a lot of time together, go for our walks, and it is so special to have that connection with someone who has known you for a long time,” he said.

Individuals have always lived their lives in different ways, yet there has been a long-standing false assumption that everyone should spend their older years in a similar fashion.

Acknowledging that ageing lifestyles are diverse and that agency and individualised experiences are important is the philosophy that underpins Baptcare’s Living Well Together model of care. It is also exemplified in Don McLennan’s individual and meaningful lifestyle at Amberlea.