Receiving more than you give
Elizabeth was shocked when her beloved husband Alan developed Alzheimer’s disease at 65 years of age: “Alan was an Anglican priest. He was outgoing and charismatic and just loved being out in the community trying to find some way he could help.”
As Elizabeth prepared to take on the new role of caregiver, she turned to her local Alzheimer Society for help. A dedicated Society counselor, Joy, helped her access valuable community services and offered strategies to manage Alan’s changing physical and emotional needs.
“Assuming the role of caregiver meant that I was able to take care of Alan in our home where he was most comfortable. I was so grateful for Joy’s regular visits during those years – she would often just listen. She also advised me of the help available to us through the Community Care Access Centre. And when she saw me getting over tired, she was very sensitive in suggesting a couple of overnight stays for Alan at the Lodge.”
“Despite being ‘on call’ 24/7 during that time, I am
so thankful we were together.”
Even after Alan was moved to the Lodge in the last eight weeks of his life, Elizabeth and her children continued to provide care: “Alan would sometimes become agitated especially when it was bath time. I would go down and help him through the shower and dress him.”
“My son and daughter visited their Dad every night they possibly could. And they made sure he had some of his favourite music to listen to which seemed to calm him. Once the summer holidays began that year, my granddaughter came to visit too.”
“I would certainly encourage people to volunteer. I seem
to receive far more than I give.”
Alan died at 70 years of age. To honour his memory, Elizabeth began volunteering at the Lodge, helping feed patients and assisting in religious services. “Alan’s ministry which had included the Lodge and the exceptional care he ended up receiving there, were an inspiration to me. I often know people who have just arrived and I can talk with the family, as I know how they are feeling.”
For families with loved ones living with dementia, the number of
caregiving hours is expected to more than triple by 2031.
One in five Canadians aged 45 and older provides some form of care to seniors living with long-term health problems — and a quarter of them are seniors themselves. With your donations, we will always be there to listen to their concerns, offer advice and help them find respite.
Elizabeth speaks of her Alzheimer Society counselor Joy as someone to whom she could express feelings about what was happening: “It was such a blessing to be able to talk to Joy openly about things that were difficult. She was always so patient and kind.”