Gananoque woman proves age is a just a number

A 98-year-old woman living in Gananoque has earned a spot on a provincial board that promotes the rights of residents in long-term care.

“I guess it’s pretty good to do this at 98,” says Kay Garland with a smile about her recent appointment to the Ontario Association for Residents’ Councils (OARC) which is responsible for 627 nursing homes in Ontario.

“I think it’s an honour, really,” she says about her work. “Our focus is to make the resident our centre of care. It’s about what’s good for the resident. It is the resident’s voice. It’s an organization for residents, run by residents.”

Kay Garland smilingA resident of Carveth Care Centre for the past four years, Kay is in remarkably good health despite four metal stents in her heart. Her memory, vision and hearing are nearly perfect. 

“I was 4.5 hours on the operating table and talked to the surgeon the entire time,” she says about her heart surgery, years ago. “Longevity is on my father’s side. He lived to 99.”

Speaking from her room at the accredited long-term care (LTC) home in early October 2018, Kay is clearly enjoying life. Her paintings cover the walls and her handmade blankets sit brightly on her bed. She works for hours on her arts and crafts. 

“I never dreamed I would have so many meetings,” she notes with her trademark humour about her new role. “I’m surviving it. Actually, I’m kind of enjoying it.”

One of 10 seniors who have voting rights on the board, Kay is the only resident of Carveth Care Centre to become a director. She chuckles at the thought of her four-year-commitment.

“I thought to myself after I agreed to the four-year-term, how foolish can you be? You’ll be 102 years old in four years’ time,” she says charmingly. 

Born and raised in a fishing village in Pacentia Bay on the south coast of Newfoundland, Kay has had a full life as a wife, mother, worker, volunteer and traveler. She also serves as President of the Carveth Care Centre Resident Council.

One of her first duties was to make new residents feel special.

“I have a welcome tea for all of the new residents,” says Kay. “The teas have gone over well. It helps them adjust and settle-in.”

Looking forward to her new role on the provincial stage, Kay is eager to share her opinions and ideas.

“I know more about Carveth now, than I ever did before,” she says with smile about her role to advocate for the best quality of life for residents. “I feel good about this place. They’re all very special around here. Activation staff even cares enough to know your likes and dislikes. The staff does thoughtful things that make such a difference. All of the girls around here have treated me so well.” 

In photo: Kay Garland

This story was originally published by Carveth Care Centre. Reposted with permission.