Care home couple share their secret to a happy relationship

14 February 2018
This Valentine’s Day, an inspirational couple share their tips for a long, happy relationship
Elderly man kissing wife on the forehead

Barry (84) and Barbara (83) Keeling met at a Birmingham social club back in 1958. Nearly 60 years later they still get the ‘love at first sight’ feeling every day.  

The couple live at Ardenlea Grove Bupa care home in Solihull.  Barry moved in after being diagnosed with dementia and Barbara soon moved in as she did not want to be apart from him. They live on different floors so Barry can get the dementia care he needs but the couple spend every afternoon together, hand in hand.

As the couple share their top tips for a long and happy relationship, Barry and Barbara say they both knew it was the beginning of something special when they met in their early 20s. 

Barbara, resident at Bupa’s Ardenlea Grove, remembers: “I told my mother that I was done with men as I’d been in a difficult relationship beforehand. Then I met Barry – he was so charming and polite, he was so different to anyone I’d met. I called my mother that night to let her know I’d changed my mind!”

They both admit it was love at first sight but a solid friendship formed first as Barry took things slowly, waiting nine months before plucking up the courage to ask Barbara on a date. Barbara jokes: “I thought I’d lost my touch – I used to flirt with him but it took months before I got anything back! But I’m glad we waited, as it gave us time to become friends.”

After travelling the world together, and building a happy home and family, Barry’s advice for younger couples is: “Make sure you’ve got things to look forward to together. We’ve been very lucky to travel the world, from Australia to South Africa, China and beyond.  Chasing those shared interests keep you close.”

Barbara adds: “Take your time – there are plenty of fish in the sea. It’s important to get to know each other first, a friendship will give you solid foundations before you go head over heels! We’d known each other very well as friends before Barry finally asked me out, and I’m lucky to have married my best friend.” 

Samantha Jangum, Manager at Bupa’s Ardenlea Grove, said: “Barry and Barbara are the most inspirational couple, they’re still so in love after all these years. Because of Barry’s dementia he lives on a separate floor but not a day goes by without them spending the afternoon together. Every day they’re just as excited to see one another, it’s heart warming to see.

Barry’s face lights up every time he sees Barbara and they sit hand in hand reminiscing about old times, watching television and sharing jokes with the care home staff.”

Both from Birmingham, Barry (84) is a retired Managing Director of a design company, and Barbara (83) was a teacher. They have two daughters (56 and 54), two grandsons and two great grandsons. Barry first moved to Bupa Ardenlea Grove in 2016 and, deciding she wanted to stay with him, Barbara joined him two months after. Since then the pair has become a part of the family with the other residents and care home staff.

Both from Birmingham, Barry is a retired Managing Director of a design company, and Barbara was a teacher. They have two daughters Alison (56) and Helen (54), as well as two grandsons and two great grandsons. 

Barry & Barbara’s Relationship Tips: 

  • Take time to be best friends, as well as husband and wife
  • Always be there for one another, and remember the person that you fell in love with
  • Exchange Valentine’s cards every year
  • Go out as a couple at least once a week
  • Always make time for dinner together 
  • Always say sorry after an argument, and make sure your partner does the same
  • Never go to bed on an argument
  • Travel together and make plans that you can both look forward to
  • Keep a good network of family and friends around you
  • Support each other’s interests
  • Be patient and love them for who they are
  • Don’t feel you need to go looking for love, it can happen when you least expect it!

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We have 15.5 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 23,300 aged care residents.

We employ over 78,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland, and many more through our associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

Health insurance is around 70% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals and care homes and villages.

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