Preserving Dignity in Aging Adults

Preserving Dignity in Aging Adults

Something that we at CHSLC have realized over the years is that older adults often don’t think of themselves as “old.” Even those who are technically senior citizens – even some in their 90s – still consider themselves competent adults. And why shouldn’t they? Age is just a number; what matters is how you feel.

Sometimes, though, older adults do require assistance and it can be difficult for them to acknowledge that. The aging process can lead to feelings of fear and loss of personal worth. We associate aging with a number of undesirable characteristics – confusion, dependence, forgetfulness. It’s no wonder seniors don’t want to be thought of as old.

There are things we can do as family members and caregivers of aging adults to preserve their dignity as they age. No one wants to be told how to live their life, and no one wants to be told that they need to accept help. But sometimes, just treating the elderly with respect and autonomy can help them see that accepting a little bit of help goes a long way to preserving their independence.

Listen to them. Really listen. The simple act of paying attention does wonders. Even if your loved one suffers from cognitive impairment, paying attention to the small details and offering compassion and patience will make their day.

Get to know them. Don’t assume your loved one needs help. Observe how they’re doing, what they’re capable of and what they’re having trouble with. This will help you figure out what form of assistance you should offer.

Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for. It’s easy to slip into a “protective” role when you care for someone else. You want what’s best for them. But the parent-child role reversal can be hard on aging parents, so accepting advice from a child – albeit an adult child – might not go over well. It’s best to let an outside person be the advisor. You can still encourage and offer support without offering advice.

Ask for their opinions. Include them in the conversation. Don’t talk about them as if they’re not there. Accept that you may have differences of opinions but discuss all sides and try to come to a decision together when possible.

Respect their right to make choices. By making choices we have some sense of control over our lives. Unless your loved one has severe cognitive impairment and can’t make their own choices, involve them in as many choices as possible. Even simple choices, like when to eat and what to wear, contribute to their feelings of independence.

Speak distinctly but don’t condescend. Some seniors don’t like to admit that they cannot hear or understand the conversation around them. Try to talk louder but in a gentle, matter-of-fact way, keeping sentences short and simple. But be careful not to speak to them like a child. Patronizing is a sure way to result in disagreement.

All of our services at Community Home Support Lanark County can contribute to the well-being and independence of aging loved ones. Take some time to visit us with your loved one to discuss how our services could be of value.

Gratitude For Our Amazing Volunteers

Gratitude For Our Amazing Volunteers

We are beyond grateful for our CHSLC volunteers. They make a world of difference in the lives of our clients. Time and time again we observe certain qualities in our volunteers – qualities that make them the stellar volunteers that that they are. Our volunteers show:

  • Generosity – a willingness to give their time to others
  • Understanding – because our clients’ lives are often very different from their own
  • Empathy – an ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and feel what they must feel
  • Compassion – to truly care about making someone else’s life better
  • Patience – because the process doesn’t always go as smoothly as it might
  • Dedication – to stick with the project and see it through

Thank you to our volunteers for all that you do! Now it’s time to brag a bit about what our volunteers have accomplished this year. From April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016:

  • 407 volunteers served 2,460 clients while donating an incredible 68,134 hours of time!
  • Our Hospice/Palliative Care volunteers provided support to 194 clients in their homes, the hospital setting and at our Hospice Day program. This support and compassion was also extended to families facing the loss of loved ones via caregiver support and bereavement support programs.
  • Our Meals On Wheels volunteers delivered over 39,000 hot and frozen meals to more than 400 clients. For many seniors, the trusted Meals On Wheels volunteer who comes to their door with a warm smile is the only person they speak to or see all day.
  • Our Diner’s Club volunteers served over 5,000 meals and provided entertaining, insightful and fun programs to more than 400 clients.
  • Our Escorted Transportation volunteers drove nearly one million kilometres, ensuring that 794 clients got to their medical appointments and treatments on time, and helped them navigate through the hospital hallways.
  • Whether it is a short chat on the telephone or a visit at home, our Friendly Visiting/Security Reassurance volunteers provided more than 900 clients with a sense of security and friendship.
  • And let’s not forget all of our volunteers who helped with awareness events, musical events and fundraisers over the past year.

Once again, our volunteers have proven the difference they make in the lives of our clients, seniors, adults with physical disabilities, and persons who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and/or palliative diagnosis. To all of our amazing volunteers who go above and beyond to help our clients, THANK YOU!!!

 Volunteer with us! We have a variety of programs and services and our volunteers are integral to their success. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, we need your help! Visit Volunteer with CHSLC for more information. We’ll work around your schedule to find a volunteer position that best suits your interests and skill set.

Featured photo: A small group of our dedicated volunteers in Pakenham.

Diner’s Club Volunteers: Why They Do It

Diner’s Club Volunteers: Why They Do It

What’s not to love about our Diner’s Club? Clients enjoy the delicious meals – tasty soups, hearty sandwiches and yummy desserts. They also look forward to playing cards and socializing with friends – some old, some new, all a delight to catch up with each week. But it isn’t just our clients who love what Diner’s Club has to offer. It’s our volunteers too! Three of our Pakenham Diner’s Club volunteers explain why they love their roles as volunteers:

Mary Throughout her four years of involvement with the Diner’s Club, Mary has realized something vital. You just can’t overstate the importance of social interaction on people’s well being. “Humans are social creatures and, as you age, the social connection becomes very important.”

Volunteering with the Diner’s Club gives Mary the opportunity to be a part of a meaningful social event while only having a couple of hours each month to volunteer. CHSLC makes it easy for her and other volunteers who want to give their time to help out in a way that suits their time availability.

Mary acknowledges that many of the Diner’s Club participants used to be volunteers and now continue to come for the lunch and social interaction. “It’s the greatest program I know for positive effect on the community. I will keep coming long after I am no longer able to volunteer.”

Diane – As one of six siblings in her family, Diane is involved in caring for her mother who has Alzheimer’s. She finds that bringing her mom to these events keeps her mom’s mind sharp.

Diane and her mom love the food but really value the social connection. Her mom is a terrific card player (just ask any of the other participants) and Diane is happy that she can bring her mom to a place each week that gets them both involved and keeps their minds active. “This club helps my mom with her memory. There can be a day when her memory is not so good, but then she comes here and remembers everyone and every hand of cards.”

Diane is happy to volunteer with a program that acts as a helpful boost to its participants’ health and well-being.

Helen – For the past five years, Helen has been volunteering with the Diner’s Club once every six weeks. She is able to volunteer in a way that fits her lifestyle and allows her to pay it forward. Paying it forward is a motto that Helen lives by and she feels that more people could benefit from this life philosophy.

By paying it forward, Helen herself is also benefiting.  She loves the social connection and is able to be involved with a great group of people. She feels like a valued member of a special community.

Thank you to all of our incredible volunteers who are so willing to give their time to help others. We couldn’t do what we do without you!

Diner Club Volunteers
From right to left: Helen, Mary, Myrna, Doreen and Diane

Learn more about volunteer opportunities, by visiting our website and reading more about volunteering through our other articles.

Making a Difference in the Community

Making a Difference in the Community

Ryan is proud to be following in the footsteps of his Great-Uncle George who delivered Meals on Wheels for 30 years. He loves helping people and enjoys listening to some fun tunes while he’s on the road.

Ryan has a developmental disability but Lanark County Support Services (LCSS) offers programs to him and others like him so they can develop skills that contribute to them living independently.

LCSS offers person-directed supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities, with an emphasis on self-determination, achievement of personal goals/outcomes, building relationships and community connection.

Through cooperation with Community Home Support Lanark County (CHSLC), which provides services and supports including Meals on Wheels for seniors and adults with physical disabilities, Ryan is able to volunteer alongside his helper Lianna. Together, they deliver nutritious meals to local seniors who look forward to receiving a hearty meal and a warm smile from the pair.

By helping deliver Meals on Wheels, Ryan is improving on skills like reading and is learning the importance of being punctual and kind. He is also developing a great work ethic, which will go a long way to allowing him to live independently.

During one delivery, Ryan and Lianna had to call 911 to help a CHSLC client who was in distress. If not for their quick thinking and actions, that situation might not have had a good ending.

LCSS has a variety of programs, such as: Transition Support Services to ease the transition of young adults from school to the community; Life Skills Experience and Supports; Activity Centres for seniors; Community Engagement Networking and Social Experience; Person-directed Apartment Living; and Innovative House Planning and Supports.

Ryan participates in Life Skills Experiences and Supports, which provides individuals with opportunities to become more independent in their homes, in their communities and at work through individualized planning and instruction/job coaching. Independence is fostered through a functional creative approach. Examples include: cooking; budgeting; banking; personal grooming; organizational skills; literacy skills; cleaning/upkeep of personal home environments; recreational/social experiences; and travel.

LCSS and CHSLC are two exceptional, community-focused organizations which only become stronger when they work together to make a difference in the lives of people who need assistance. To instill altruistic values in individuals with developmental disabilities, and also give them the opportunity to make a difference in their community, is a wonderful thing.

Meet Our Volunteer: Doreen

Meet Our Volunteer: Doreen

Doreen’s delicious soups are warm and comforting – just like her personality. For 15 years, this former professional cook has been creating soup masterpieces for CHSLC’s Pakenham Diner’s Club. She became involved in the Diner’s Club through her daughter Myrna, a client services assistant for CHSLC. Doreen’s and Myrna’s roles have expanded over the years – in fact most diners will agree that they are the heart and soul of the Diner’s Club.

Doreen rarely needs a recipe, even though she seldom makes the same soup twice. Her repertoire is expansive and her soups never fail to delight the taste buds of the diners. While each soup is tremendous, a fan favourite is her homemade tomato soups.

Each week Doreen sets the menu and prepares some of the meal ahead of time at home. She then loads the ingredients into two Little Red Riding Hood-style baskets and makes her way to Five Arches, where Diner’s Club takes place. Once there, other volunteers such as Helen, Mary and Diane, will help to prepare the sandwiches and bring the desserts, but the soup is always Doreen’s baby.

With Doreen’s many years of experience working in a kitchen and several years preparing the meals for Diner’s Club, the weekly event goes off without a hitch – usually. She and some other volunteers recall a cooking fiasco where it was assumed the eggs brought in for egg salad sandwiches had already been cooked. They hadn’t. While stressful at the time, the ladies laugh about it now.

Doreen’s time spent volunteering isn’t just about preparing great food. It’s also about connecting with the clients. She loves hearing the stories and laughter coming from diners as they’re playing cards before lunch. And after the food is prepared she always heads out to the dining room to visit and chat.

For Doreen and the other Diner’s Club volunteers, their involvement in this weekly event is about being grateful for their own health and well-being and paying it forward. As passionate as Doreen is about cooking, she feels the same passion for helping others.  Thank you Doreen for all that you do and the other volunteers as well!

(Featured in picture: Myrna on the left, Doreen on the right)

Visit our website to learn more about our services or contact us anytime.

A Client’s Story: Donna

A Client’s Story: Donna

Donna is a survivor and an inspiration to us all. She has been through much turmoil in her life – more than any one person should be subject to. In 1998, Donna was in a horrific car crash. In the weeks following, there were multiple moments when the hospital staff and her family thought she wouldn’t make it. Against all odds, her indomitable spirit pushed her through.

She was told she may never walk again, but she did. Not only could she walk, but she could sing, dance, act silly and even – laugh.  Her accident and recovery changed her not just physically, but gave her lightness of heart, leading her to surround herself with those people who would accept her for what she had always been; a loving, vivacious creature who would, from now on, only seek the gentle and pleasant side of life.

Years later, and the physical realities of Donna’s ordeal began catching up with her. She is back in a wheel chair, as mobility is not easy. Her husband Stephen has been an incredible support for her, but with her added burden of terminal cancer, Donna’s strength of spirit waned. She became a recluse. She felt she had nowhere to go and felt alone within herself.

Two years ago, Donna was introduced to the CHSLC Hospice Day Program. Here, she met people like herself, suffering life-threatening illness. These people – who have become like family to her – are always willing to share and listen. Similarly, she has met “some of the warmest, most caring counsellors” who go out of their way to help her.

Each week, Donna looks forward to sharing a meal with good friends and participating in the fun activities planned for them. She also takes advantage of CHSLC’s foot care services and is visited in her home by a hospice volunteer.

Donna spoke at the 2016 Hike for Hospice, where she rallied support for the program. “I could go on and on about the love and support we have all received – so let us give our community support team a great big thank you!” She went on to declare that, “Hospice matters. The end of life deserves as much beauty, care and respect as the beginning.” We couldn’t agree more.


Meet Our Volunteer: Wilma

Meet Our Volunteer: Wilma

Our beloved volunteers decide to help us for many reasons. Some volunteers even end up using our services themselves. When Wilma started to require CHSLC’s services for herself, she told us that her years as a volunteer made all the difference when accepting help for herself.

Wilma contacted us in 1999. Her husband had passed away and Wilma realized that she needed to fill her time. She also wanted to bring purpose and meaning back to her life. When Wilma’s mother-in-law suggested CHSLC Wilma jumped on board.

The rural Diner’s Club benefitted early on from Wilma’s dedication and lovely demeanour. Then, she volunteered as a transportation driver and Meals on Wheels dispatcher. Wilma arranged delivery for 45 meals one day!

Through her service, Wilma was able to make acquaintances with many people, but two clients made the most impact on her. Denise* and Wilma spent hours conversing about everything under the sun. Time seemed to fly by when they spent it together, talking. Having this relationship helped Wilma feel less alone and she felt accepted and needed. Her relationship with Denise meant the world to her.

One afternoon, Wilma spent time calling people to remind them about Diner’s Club and to encourage everyone to come. Her voice sounded so friendly on Bruce’s* voice mail that he decided to call her back. Wilma and Bruce had a great discussion and she thought his comments about her voice were funny as well as flattering.

Wilma has had her share of experience with medical surgeries, but 3 operations on her leg didn’t stop her from volunteering with us! She spent her time while laid up, calling clients to attend dinner.

CHSLC really is like a family. One morning, Wilma walked outside her home. She was just going out for a minute, so didn’t take the time to dress appropriately for the brisk winter weather. Two of our Transportation drivers arrived at her house a little earlier than normal to pick up Wilma for an appointment. When they arrived, she was on the ground and couldn’t get up. She had fallen and broke her leg.

Since her surgeries, Wilma has been receiving CHSLC’s services herself. She receives transportation to doctor’s appointments, Meals on Wheels deliveries and Foot Care. We love giving back to Wilma who has given so much to us and our organization!

In Wilma’s words, “This place is just wonderful. There are no words to explain how I feel about this place. There was nothing like this during my parents time.”

And, when Wilma talks about Suzanne at our Perth Office her face lights up. “Just give Suzanne a call. Find out more information. CHSLC is a ROCK!  I can phone to get information and help. I don’t know what I would do without it.”

The funny thing is, we feel the same about Wilma! She’s been a steady rock throughout the years and a valued volunteer we could always count on.

Thank you for everything you do, Wilma! It’s always a pleasure working with you.

 *Names have been changed. 

Why We Hike for Hospice

Why We Hike for Hospice

Caring for a loved one with a life limiting illness is difficult, regardless of how trained you are for the job or how much patience you’ve acquired over the years. It’s emotionally and physically draining, yet you’re committed to helping your loved one feel as healthy and comfortable as possible. That’s where Community Home Support Lanark County’s hospice  palliative care services and volunteers can help.

Talk to Us

Our hospice palliative care services and volunteers are available to you. Talking with someone other than your loved one or your family and friends can be helpful. We can give you an experienced, unbiased viewpoint and we won’t judge you for any feelings of resentment.

Visiting volunteers take the time to spend social time with clients and give their caregivers a break. The day hospice program is a safe and comfortable space where clients of all ages come to share similar experiences and connect. A meal and a game of cards or a sympathetic ear with a friend who doesn’t need an explanation can be a welcome relief.

Trained Volunteers

A long-time hospice palliative care volunteer with us has taken courses and training for nearly 40 years! She happened across the palliative care path unexpectedly when she discovered a friend was suffering in distress with a life-limiting illness and had no one to help. Many of our volunteers have stories like this. Many stumbled into the field of care through helping a friend or family member and then continued on volunteering, knowing their experience and training will help others.

As for our 40 year trained veteran… She began her journey by helping her friend and then continued on to become a palliative care nurse, a bereavement counsellor, a home visitor, a hospice professional and now, in retirement, a hospice volunteer! We’re grateful to work with such a knowledgable and caring volunteer.

Canada Proud

Forty years ago, the first comprehensive palliative care program in the international community was initiated at McGill University’s Royal Victoria Hospital. The world looked to Canada as an innovator, not only as a pioneer. Courses were offered, and palliative care units were established.

Perth and Smiths Falls once had a dedicated and funded palliative team, but, as budgets were frozen and staff left, the services disappeared. Now, thanks to community involvement, palliative care is available in both the Perth and Smiths Falls hospital campuses and volunteer services of hospice palliative care have developed. CHSLC provides day hospice, bereavement support, a resource centre as well as a volunteer visiting service. The South East Local Health Integration Network provides approximately 50% funding the other 50% required to operate the services comes from donations and fundraising events.

That’s why we hold events like our annual Hike for Hospice coming May 1st. If you’re interested in participating or donating to the event through a monetary donation or volunteer services, contact us at (613) 267-6400 or visit our Hike for Hospice page.

Boost Your Resumé with Volunteer Work

Boost Your Resumé with Volunteer Work


Every year our Hike for Hospice event draws out volunteers of all ages, the young and the young at heart. It had us thinking about our age-young volunteers and how they can use volunteerism to find the job they want after school. 

Based on our experiences, here are the top 3 ways volunteering helps boost your resumé.

Build a Network

Knowing what you want to do “when you grow up” is half the battle when job searching. The other half of the battle is creating connections in the workplace and building working relationships with key people who can help you get the type of job you’re searching for. Volunteering requires you to meet new people — potential coworkers, employers and decision makers for the organization.

Explore Your Options

So, you haven’t decided what you want to do “when you grow up”? No worries! Volunteering allows you to explore various job markets without affecting your resumé or future job prospects. A resumé that lists a series of jobs that you’ve tried out, but didn’t succeed at doesn’t look good. It makes you look indecisive and unreliable. Employers will think you’re unemployable even though you’re smart and capable. Volunteering allows you to experience a field of work without having to include it in your resumé unless it will help your prospects.

Expand Your Skill Set

Every field of work has a particular skill set that applies only to that field. There are also universally important traits like time management and communication skills that are beneficial to any job. Take for example, working with seniors who live at home and subscribe to our Meals on Wheels program. As a delivery driver it’s important to arrive on-time and safely. It’s also important to strike up conversation if it’s welcomed. Being flexible, yet timely is key to running a service that is efficient and friendly. It’s also an important skill set to apply to any field of work you end up pursuing.

Over the next few months we look forward to working with students and young volunteers during our Hike for Hospice. We wish them all the best in their studies and future careers!

Helping Us, Helping You


Connection. It’s the glue that holds our communities, friends and families together.

Have you ever moved to a new city or town and felt like you were living on a deserted island, far from civilization? You walk passed strangers on the street or buy your milk at the grocery store, but you feel alone. Sure, you might chat it up a bit with the cashier at the store, but the connection is lost somehow. 

A similar situation happens when we retire from work. Your routine changes, often drastically. As a member of the organization you work for, there is a common goal or cause that brings you and your coworkers together. When we lose that connection, we might also lose our sense of self-worth.

There are a million reasons why we lose a sense of connection with our environment and the people around us. The above are only two examples. Change is difficult and resisting it, either consciously or subconsciously, is a completely normal reaction. However, resisting change does not help you in the long run.

One way to break out of a resistance to change, is to engage in activities that allow you to use your talents and skill sets to serve others.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Gandhi

Volunteering at an organization like CHSLC will help you…

  • Make new friends and contacts
  • Increases your social skills
  • Feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment
  • Increase your self-confidence
  • Provide you with career experience

Our volunteers are shining examples of people who love what they do!

They use their time and resources, whatever they have to give, to help our clients. In turn, while they might not be aware, they are also helping themselves. We notice it in a smile or a laugh, in their dependability and in their commitment. And, we’re thankful.