Dementia in the days of COVID-19: Letters from volunteers (part two)
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.
Bridget Beggs, Dementia education volunteer
“The thing I’ve missed most about the Society are the individuals and families I’ve met, and the glimmers of light in their lives that they share. I’ve met so many people from various walks of life who are all going through different stages on their dementia journey. In the Society’s workshops, people share their experiences – be it their frustrations, changes in their lives or questions they may have about themselves or a person living with dementia. But what people also share are the small moments in their lives that leave bright spots for everyone.
As challenging as some days can be, the people I’ve met through the Alzheimer Society of B.C. have taught me so much about how valuable and surprisingly uplifting any journey can be. Something I’ve found myself thinking lately is that tough times do not last, but tough people do. The times we are going through are much like the journey of dementia; we don’t know what exactly is going to happen, but we can all learn ways to adapt our routines, connect in new ways and make it through these strange and challenging times together.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay healthy. I look forward to when I get to reconnect with our community again soon.”
Landon Short, Minds in Motion® assistant
“This year has definitely taken a turn that nobody could have expected. For many of us, including myself, this has caused a great deal of stress on how we conduct our day, as this pandemic is seemingly at the forefront of everything we do. While it is easy to focus on all the negatives of this situation, I have had extra time to reflect on what matters to me and what I enjoy. Over the past few years I’ve been volunteering with the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Minds in Motion® program which has become a consistent part of my life. While I greatly enjoy volunteering each week, I think I began to take it for granted and expected the program would always be there for me like it is for so many others. Now with the program on pause, I have developed a newfound appreciation and love for not only the activities we have the opportunity to do, but more importantly, all the great people I’ve met and the relationships we’ve formed over the years that’s made us a family.
The greatest impact this pandemic has had on all of us is the lack of social interaction and it can make it feel alone, but you are not alone. Just as you are thinking of the friends you are missing, remember they are thinking of you, too. I know that I find myself thinking about everybody from the program, especially on Thursday mornings! It’s important to remember that this pandemic will pass and that we’ll all be together again. And when we are, we’ll be stronger than ever.”
Deanna Matthewson, Support group facilitator and community outreach support
“I am a volunteer with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. in Kelowna, where I facilitate two caregiver support groups and assist with community outreach programs, including the annual Seniors Safety Fair. I look forward eagerly to the monthly meetings with my two groups. We always manage to have a few laughs together and come away feeling better than when we started. Each member of the group shares what has happened over the past month in their life and we all look forward to hearing their stories. We also share information about services and ways to solve any problems we have encountered while living with dementia.
Now during these closures, I miss seeing my groups and I wonder how they are doing with all the restrictions on our lives. I know how much I would like to get back to normal to take part in my usual activities and see my friends. I’m sure each and every one of my group members feels the same and is looking forward to the day that they can once again take part in all the things they did before the pandemic. I would like my friends to know I think of them often and sincerely hope they are getting the support they need, especially now as so many programs are closed. My closing message is: I miss you! Stay well until we meet again.”
Sandra Hentzen, Support group facilitator
“As a former caregiver for my mother and having received so much from the Alzheimer Society of B.C., I became a volunteer Caregiver Support Facilitator. Every month, I look forward to meeting with family caregivers and listening to the shared experiences and learnings that they provide to each other. What I’ve missed in the last three months is the ability to be present with these brave and caring individuals as they go through this journey with positivity and growth, and now with an added obstacle to face. What I would like to say to the group of caregivers that I meet with monthly is to stay strong, stay safe, make sure you practice self-care more now than ever. I think of you often and look forward to connecting with you all.”
To read the first 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).