“Helping Beautiful Seniors Find Accommodations”—Meet Jean Johnston-McKitterick
August 16, 2018
Say hello to Jean of the Tea & Toast team!
Jean, what is your current job title?
I’m a Senior Living Advisor with Tea & Toast.
What did you do professionally before coming to Tea & Toast?
I worked at Canada Post for almost 30 years in marketing and product management.
Why do you enjoy working for Tea & Toast?
I love seniors! They have done so much in their lives, that I want to make sure they enjoy life to the fullest in their waning years.
What’s a current trend you see in Canada regarding senior care and retirement?
I’m seeing a huge increase in Canada in the need for memory care—that is, for seniors who have Alzheimer’s, dementia or other memory issues, which may put themselves or others in danger.
Also, there is a growing need for lower-priced residence options for independent seniors. These people may need a retirement residence for any number of reasons, but they don’t necessarily require all the services like having their meals made for them.
What’s the one thing you would tell children of aging parents—even if their parents aren’t yet at the age where they might need a retirement residence?
If you see the potential for dementia, start planning as early as possible to move your parent into a retirement home. Even if your aging parent moves in before dementia hits, being in that home will enable them to get into a routine—to make friends, attend programs, and become acquainted with the overall lifestyle of the home. This way, they will be able to maintain the routine even after their memory fails, because it’s something they’ve already been doing.
What makes you really good at your job?
I am passionate, genuine and caring—and I think this comes through as I help seniors find retirement residences. The job is so very rewarding; it’s the best job I’ve ever had!
I’ve also been in the place of many Tea & Toast clients. I went through the challenges of senior care with my own mom, who had dementia. She passed away in February 2018, but I feel so blessed to have been able to spend an amazing amount of time with her during the last four years of her life. We spent time together playing bridge, going to dinners and luncheons and teas—and, of course, Tim Hortons. We talked to people wherever we went. I loved spending time with my mom, and I miss her terribly.
Is there a short anecdote you’d like to share about your time with Tea & Toast?
A couple experiences stand out in my mind…
There was an older couple who had been separated due to unforeseen health circumstances. I worked with the husband, his son and daughter-in-law to reunite the couple in a wonderful new retirement home—together in one room, where their care needs would be looked after. It was so wonderful to see them living together once again!
I also met a woman who was no longer able to walk the stairs in her three-story home. She came to Tea & Toast, looking for a place to continue to live her independent life and have fun. We toured three homes. She was just thrilled to find a retirement community that met all her needs—a place where she could continue making most of her own meals (but have one meal made for her each day), meet new people and make new friends, and participate in the many activities of the home—especially daily pub hour!
What do you do in your spare time?
I am a very social person. I love visiting with friends and family. I also attend mass, crochet baby blankets, and read.
Is there a mantra or words of wisdom you like to live by?
I pray the serenity prayer every day: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. There are a lot of things that are out of my control in this world, but I hope that I am giving back a little by helping these beautiful seniors find accommodations that will afford them comfort and care for the rest of their lives.