Dementia in the days of COVID-19: Letters from volunteers (part one)
Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do, and the meaningful relationships they build make our communities so special. While our in-person groups have been unable to meet in recent weeks, volunteers have shared what they miss about their role and messages to the people they volunteer with.
Cheryl MacDonald, Support group facilitator
“What I miss most about volunteering with the Society are the people. There is a very special bond that is created, and although one cannot experience another’s journey, you live a piece of it with them through personal sharing and group discussions. I miss being a part of something so important. I have the privilege of being a facilitator for Caregiver Support Groups as well as Early Stage Support Groups, where my individual group members are willing to share and support each other.
If I was able to tell my group members anything, it would be: you are courageous, caring and show amazing strength. I would like to say thank you for letting me catch a glimpse into your journey.”
Gina McCulloch, Support group facilitator
“While caring for my own mother for ten years, I was fortunate to receive guidance and support from the Alzheimer Society of B.C. After mum’s passing, I realized how critical the Society had been in assisting us both through the process. Until I joined a peer support group, I found the dementia journey was lonely and stressful. By sharing my journey with others, although the stress still remained, I was no longer lonely. Knowing the importance of group support led me to volunteer as a facilitator, hoping others would also benefit from the experience as I had.
My thoughts frequently turn to our group members as we are no longer able to lean on each other for support and understanding. I hope each of you realize that while we aren’t together in body, we are still together in spirit. I easily recall each member and the issue that was weighing on their mind at our last get-together. We volunteers remember you. We share your journey even though we can no longer sit beside each other.
I miss the time we share together, as I’m sure you do too. We all look forward to being able to gather again as a group. Until then, take care of each other and stay safe.”
Janis Wright, Support group facilitator
“My volunteering at the Alzheimer Society of B.C. involves facilitating the meetings for two support groups in the South Okanagan, and sometimes to help out with one or two others. In addition, my 97 year-old mother lives with the disease, which has given me first-hand experience as a caregiver.
During the pandemic, I not only miss visiting my mom, but I have found it even more difficult being unable to meet with my support group members each month. I miss the camaraderie, the laughter, as well as the tears. We all connect in a meaningful way because there is a special closeness that develops when people feel safe enough to share their fears.
I miss all of you! I want all group members to know that we volunteers are thinking of you during this challenging time, wishing we could be there for you, and hoping we will be able to do so very soon.”
To read the second part of our volunteer letters, or to explore the rest of our "Dementia in the days of COVID-19" stories, visit: alzbc.org/COVID-stories.
If you have questions or concerns about dementia or caring for someone living with dementia, call the First Link® Dementia Helpline. Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. in English (1-800-936-6033) and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007) and Punjabi (1-833-674-5003).