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Alyson Graham is seen here with one of her clients.

Mother’s (and grandmother’s) helper

This time of year, we can all feel a little stressed, managing our normal lives while preparing for the holidays. But stress is an everyday factor for those caring for an elderly parent, trying to maintain their own lives while helping their loved ones. This is where Cedarwood Services comes in.

Cedarwood is an in-home supportive care business for seniors in the Glengarry/Prescott/Russell area.  It offers a range of services that are not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) or other government programs. The aim is to help keep seniors independent for longer and relieve family caregivers. Services include:

  • home support services such as shopping and meal preparation
  • help in navigating the health care system and taking seniors to medical and other appointments
  • respite for caregivers
  • assistance in downsizing or moving to another address.

“Hiring a daughter for a day”, is how one senior describes the role of Alyson Graham, the founder of Cedarwood Services.

“It starts with a cup of tea,” Graham explains, describing the trusting relationship she builds with her clients. Mostly she is contacted by daughters or daughters-in-law who are worried about their elderly relatives. “Often they live far away and want to know that someone is checking in with their loved one on a regular basis,” she says. Many of her contacts are part of the “sandwich generation” – usually working, still looking after their own families and trying to do their best for their parents. Some of her clients are in long term care and just need a little support to maintain their well-being. “I can relieve caregivers of some of their responsibility and any feelings of being overwhelmed they may have,” she says.

Cedarwood has just celebrated its fifth anniversary in business. Graham holds degrees in both gerontology and sociology and had more than 25 years experience working with seniors before she set up Cedarwood. “There are so many advantages, both emotional and financial, in helping seniors remain in their homes and as active as possible,” she says. If due to health reasons, a senior has to move into long term care, she can help ease the transition.

One of the benefits of hiring Graham is that she is an unbiased outsider, able to work through family dynamics and offer experienced advice. “Because of my background and education, I can often give advice and think of options that caregivers might not have thought of,” she notes.

An initial visit and consultation is free and resulting services are available for $27.50 an hour, with a two-hour minimum. “One of my clients and I can cover most of the stores in Alexandria in two hours,“ she jokes. When taking a client to a medical appointment locally or in Ottawa, she provides caregivers with a written report on the outcome.

Graham has found that her services are more in demand in the winter, due to family sickness or winter breaks. During the holidays, she can provide short term relief for caregivers.

Eastern Ontario has a higher number of seniors than the national average. To address this growing cohort, Cedarwood is planning a symposium for seniors in Alexandria in May 2019 to share information and organize for the future. Participants and speakers for the symposium include the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN); Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital; Dying With Dignity; and local medical professionals.

Graham finds her work very rewarding. “The trust caregivers and clients place in me is an honour,” she says.

To contact Cedarwood Services for a free consultation, call (613) 360-5512 or go to [email protected].


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Bonnie Laing

Bonnie Laing is the author of four produced plays, the novel, River Reel, and the short story collection Marble Season.

Her short fiction has been published in many Canadian literary magazines.Numerous humorous and non-fiction articles have been published in the Globe & Mail, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and Toronto Star. She has also published two local histories and is the former Coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at Ryerson University.
Bonnie Laing

Latest posts by Bonnie Laing (see all)

Bonnie Laing

Bonnie Laing is the author of four produced plays, the novel, River Reel, and the short story collection Marble Season. Her short fiction has been published in many Canadian literary magazines.Numerous humorous and non-fiction articles have been published in the Globe & Mail, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and Toronto Star. She has also published two local histories and is the former Coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at Ryerson University.

bonnie has 17 posts and counting.See all posts by bonnie

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