SENIORS’ WEEK: Never too young to plan life as a senior

Vern Drader

Vern Drader

One of the biggest Canucks’ parties in Mission this playoff season has been at a rather unique place.

Cedarbrooke Chateau isn’t the first spot you would think would be populated by excitable pro-hockey fans, but their enthusiasm is undeniable.

A group of at least 20 men and women living at the Seventh Avenue seniors residence gather in the theatre room every time the Vancouver squad plays to cheer on the home team.

All the fans are regularly clad in their distinctive blue Canucks T-shirts and jerseys, with a few bringing out the flags and towels on game days.

Chief architect behind the fun is Vern Drader, an 81-year-old former llama farmer from Saskatchewan, who along with his wife of 62 years, Lyla, have made Cedarbrooke home for the past two years.

“They call me their captain,” he said with a laugh.

“I love people and I like to see them happy and having fun,” Drader said when asked why he organized the group.

The Draders are part of the newer cadre of seniors who aren’t content to sit by and let life go on without them. And as more baby boomers enter retirement, the number of highly active seniors is expected to rise.

Before moving into the retirement residence, the Draders had a motorhome and travelled extensively, while Vern still kept active in the llama industry. He still does some judging and consultation work occasionally, but these days his schedule is full of walking, and going to the pool and gym three times a week.

And he encourages other people getting on in years to follow his example.

“Just stay active and have fun. Don’t be a couch potato,” said Drader.

But preparation is key, he stressed.

“It’s never too early to plan for being a senior. You have to socialize and plan for the future.”

The couple was at Hallmark on the Lake in Abbotsford for nearly four years before moving to Mission, but Vern said they would have moved into a facility like Cedarbrooke earlier had they known how fun the lifestyle would be.

“You should [move] while you can still enjoy life and before the decision is put on you,” he said. The Draders aren’t confined to the residence and still travel regularly. They plan to head to their hometown of Estevan, Sask. next month for a visit.

“If I felt any better, I’d be dangerous.”