Meet Elizabeth Barrie
When Elizabeth Barrie reflects on her mom’s journey with Alzheimer’s, she uses words you might not expect. “Inspiring; impactful; gracious.”
She highlights the beauty in a challenging circumstance, describing caring for her mom toward the end of her life as a “painful privilege.”
“What I learned, with my children, was to value every opportunity to spend time with my mom. Even if she couldn’t communicate, I felt that her love was expressed to us in many ways,” Elizabeth says.
Elizabeth is a family support worker with the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, where she uses the lessons she learned in caring for her mom, Evelyn Proctor, to help other families navigate a dementia diagnosis. She loves helping people see the capacity in themselves and focus on their strengths in light of a diagnosis.
She started the job six months after her mom’s death, and participated in her first Walk for Alzheimer’s the same year. Her husband, their four kids and their significant others all take part.
With the whole family pitching in to help at the event, it’s a busy day for everyone. Overall, she says, it’s a fun event for people of all ages - a cozy indoor event in the middle of winter with music, performances and food. For Elizabeth, the most special part of the day is when she and her kids take a moment to come together, candles in hand, and walk to honour her mom.
Elizabeth has been a prolific fundraiser for the Walk for Alzheimer’s, but she’s quick to brush off any acclaim.
“It’s not my accomplishment - it’s only because of the generosity of others that I’ve reached that goal. The credit goes to the friends and family and clients who have sponsored me.”
Elizabeth solicits donations through a single Facebook post each year, giving friends and family the opportunity to decide on their own terms if and when they want to donate.
What she wants people to know about the Walk for Alzheimer’s is that all money raised goes directly into programs that support people in Oxford County.
“So if somebody has the time, and they want to do something for just that one afternoon … they can do it knowing that every penny they pledge or they raise goes directly to the programs and services that support someone with dementia and their family.”