Important voices in the dementia conversation: Allan O'Meara
2016 marks the 35th Anniversary of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. As we celebrate throughout the year, we’ll be featuring interviews with important voices in the conversation around Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – people with dementia, caregivers, volunteers, donors and sponsors – who have worked with the Society to support the 70,000 British Columbians affected by the disease.
For October, we’re featuring Allan O'Meara, a former Ascent for Alzheimer's hiker and passionate fundraiser. We interviewed Allan about his experience with the Alzheimer Society of B.C.
How did you first connect with the Alzheimer Society of B.C.?
I have volunteered with seniors since I was 16 years old and began working with seniors in recreation when I moved to B.C. twenty years ago. Many of the seniors I work with have Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia and it was actually somebody at my facility who told me about the Alzheimer Society B.C. That’s how I initially got connected but things really got moving in 2009 when I heard about the Society’s Ascent for Alzheimer’s event and I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2010. I volunteered as one of the first committee chairs on the Climb for Alzheimer's event and helped to launch its first year in 2012.
Is there something that stands out for you in your time with the Society that has meaning for you?
It’s really hard to pinpoint one moment! To be honest; it’s the people. Everybody at the Alzheimer Society B.C. is so warm and caring. An organization is just an organization but it’s the people that really make it and it is them who keep me connected. I have made true friendships with staff and volunteers and that is something that really stands out and means a lot to me. When I think of the Society I think of the amazing people.
What keeps you connected with the Society?
Many of the seniors that I work with have dementia; I stay connected for them and for the caring people that work with them. I also stay connected because of the friendships. The relationships that I have made throughout my connection with the Society; both staff and other volunteers has been wonderful. I have made a great relationship with staff member, Katie Syroid who organizes the Climb, she’s awesome! Our team of nine who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro is still friends and a few of us meet regularly for hikes and runs. It’s the people that keep me connected to the Society alongside the great work that the Society does.
What do you hope the next 35 years will bring for dementia awareness?
One word: elimination. I love the people at the Society and don’t want them to be out of jobs…but I do!
If we can’t eliminate dementia then education is key. Education for those people who need it and those people who don’t have access to it; everybody should have access to education and support and as early as possible. The Society’s First Link® dementia support is great for that. I would want everybody to be educated; school kids, families who need help learning how to cope, our communities; everybody should be dementia aware.