When Don Mastin invited me to spend the day with him and his wife Eileen, I was delighted. Eileen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 11 years ago, at that time Don retired to become a caregiver. He cared for her full time until six years ago when Eileen had to be moved into long-term care. Don remembers every month, every day, every moment.Don recently joined the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s Dementia Champions, a program that mobilized caregivers, like him, and people with dementia to help spread our advocacy messages during the 2011 Ontario election.
Don is no stranger to being an advocate. Ever since Eileen’s diagnosis, he’s been her biggest champion, making sure she receives the best possible care so she can live the best quality of life. He visits Eileen several times a day to feed and spend time with her. Music plays softly in her room that is adorned with personal touches – photos of them, their children and grandchildren. Don has worked tirelessly to make sure that Eileen is happy and well cared for.
And Don isn’t passionate about Eileen’s care only. He’s looking out for the other residents with dementia, too. He’s drawn diagrams for the Personal Support Workers (PSWs) so they know how to move her gently from one position to another and advocated to have a patio installed at the residence. Don jokes about the “trouble” he’s caused, but to the PSWs his diagrams have been a huge help and the other residents, including staff, are enjoying the patio.Don’s sharing of his caregiving journey means more to me than any statistic or report and has given me more insight than I can fit in this blog. Caring for someone with dementia never stops even when that person is in long-term care.
Caregivers like Don Mastin are invaluable and deserve our appreciation and respect. Don is a true champion in every sense of the word.