Jamie O’Leary

An image of a young woman, Jamie O'Leary

1. What led you to the Alzheimer Society of Oxford for your placement?

When I started thinking about where I wanted to do my final placement, I reflected on my previous experiences, interests and what I still wanted to learn more about. I have always felt a connection to older adults and had little experience in non-profit organizations such as the Alzheimer Society. My aunt has always advocated for the amazing services and support provided by the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, and as I didn’t know a whole lot about dementia myself, it seemed a natural choice to reach out to an organization that would educate and challenge me, while also providing much needed support to my own community. 

2. What did you enjoy about your placement with the Alzheimer Society?

I honestly could not say a negative thing about this placement experience if I tried. The Alzheimer Society of Oxford is one of the most versatile, wrap-around agencies I’ve ever experienced. I love that every member of the team truly wants what’s best for the clients and are willing to do whatever they are able to do to ensure that happens. It’s amazing to be a part of a team that is so collaborative, supportive and empathetic. It’s overwhelmingly clear that the clients come first, and that each person at the Society truly cares about the work they are doing. 

I personally loved meeting the clients who were involved with the Alzheimer Society of Oxford. Between people living with dementia, caregivers and care partners, and professionals in the community, I truly learned something new every day. The relationships I built with these clients is unlike anything I’ve experienced before in a professional capacity, and I believe it allowed me to truly understand the life experiences of those who are living with dementia within our community. 

3. What are two top lessons or information you will take with you as a result of your placement?

In terms of education, I will take my knowledge of dementia and mild cognitive impairment with me wherever I go. The many different forms of dementia that exist under the umbrella term is the first thing I learned, and I have already found myself sharing this knowledge quite regularly. The stigma around this disease has perpetuated the idea that dementia is simply memory loss, and that this means one is no longer capable of having a meaningful life- learning all the ways in which this is not true has become something I am very passionate about. Yes, dementia is a horrible disease, but it by no means defines a person, nor is it ‘forgetfulness’. I think learning the ways in which to challenge this stigma in a knowledgeable, respectful way is something that is very important and that I am very proud to feel confident in doing.

Collaboration! If nothing else, I have learned the true importance and the necessity of collaborating not only with team members, but also with community partners. Working in a field that involves supporting individuals and families is bound to be difficult at times, and every person’s situation and experience is unique. It wouldn’t be possible for the women at the Alzheimer Society of Oxford to do the amazing work they do if they couldn’t turn to one another for guidance, advice and support. Every person brings their own knowledge, experiences and expertise, and it’s amazing to see people who are more focused on providing the best care and support possible than they are with their egos. Having a team you can trust and rely on can make or break an agency, and the Alzheimer Society of Oxford definitely has it down pat.


Last Updated: 05/14/2019