Browsed by
Tag: Volunteer

Lauren volunteers to learn new skills

Lauren volunteers to learn new skills

Why do I volunteer?

I took on this volunteer position to learn and expand my skills. This position allows me to do that and make a difference in the lives of people with dementia and their caregivers.  It’s great to know my work has a purpose.

What is my background?

I am employed with an adult day program for people with dementia. I have also volunteered with the Alzheimer Society in other cities, such as with their Volunteer Companion Program when I was an undergraduate student. I enjoy reading new research studies and advancements on dementia.

What is my impact?

I began volunteering with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario working on a housing proposal with their Public Policy department. This opportunity allows me to be a part of important provincial initiatives, which will help people for many years to come.

Why should you volunteer?

The Alzheimer Society of Ontario has supported me immensely in my effort to support others. I believe in their humanistic philosophy and their work has a big impact. I encourage anyone who believes they have something to contribute to get in touch and see how they can help.

Learn more about volunteering and how to volunteer at the Alzheimer Society.

Lauren McLean

Volunteer, Alzheimer Society of Ontario

Graham volunteers for experience and to give back

Graham volunteers for experience and to give back

Why do I volunteer?

I volunteer with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario because I want to contribute to the strength of the education and services that the Society provides for Ontarians with dementia and their caregivers. The rise of dementia in our community, its economic impact and its impact on quality of life is a major health care issue. Like many Ontarians, the impact of dementia has affected my family.

What is my background?

As a clinical researcher of cognitive decline, I have met many older adults suffering from cognitive trouble or dementia and have observed its impact on their life and their caregivers. My research aims to better understand the science of cognitive decline and how it may lead to dementia in later life. However, any benefits of my research likely wouldn’t be realized for many years.

What is my impact?

Volunteering with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario allows me to contribute to the management of dementia in the community now. Together, with the public policy and program initiatives team, I am helping to identify key areas of overlap between the strengths of the Society and the needs within the Ontario strategy for dementia care.

Why should you volunteer?

If dementia has had an impact on someone’s life and they would like to join the fight, the Alzheimer Society is an excellent organization to volunteer with. There is a great diversity of opportunities with a wide range of required involvement. And most importantly, the Alzheimer Society is fully committed to improving care and education for those with dementia and their caregivers.

Learn more about volunteering and how to volunteer at the Alzheimer Society.

Graham-photo2Graham Mazereeuw

Volunteer, Alzheimer Society of Ontario

Susan Parish: Champion for Dementia

Susan Parish: Champion for Dementia

As a graduate from nursing at Western, Susan understood the devastating impact of dementia.  Prior to retirement, she worked for ten years in a long-term care home in Lindsay, where many residents had Alzheimer’s disease.

It was after retirement that Susan noticed unsettling cognitive changes. During the summer and fall of 2009, Susan began to feel very nervous when driving. Her husband Brian also noticed subtle changes in spelling, numeracy, comprehension, memory and coordination.  After a prompt referral to a Gerontologist in Peterborough and a specialist at Toronto Western, she was definitively diagnosed at age 60 with Post Cortical Atrophy (PCA), an atypical variant of Alzheimer’s.

The next year was dark for Susan, Brian and their family. But one day, she had a change of heart. Perhaps because of the “nursing” in her blood, she knew that wallowing in self-pity would change nothing. To help herself, she decided to reach out and help others.  As a first step, she invited a journalist friend in Lindsay to help her “out” herself to the community. The article also focused on the importance of early diagnosis and how denying it only perpetuates stigma.

With the encouragement from the local Alzheimer Society, she became a ‘Champion of Change’ for the Kawartha Lakes area, advocating on behalf of people with Alzheimer’s at the local, provincial and federal level.  On a visit to her local MPP with local Alzheimer Society staff, she posed questions about funding for research, capacity of long-term care and the need for better home care that were met with  sincere interest and concern.  She has communicated with politicians at all levels about these issues and also the importance of a National Dementia Strategy.  She believes these concerns must be on the political agenda.

Susan has continued as a prominent spokesperson for those with the disease. In 2012, she presented the keynote speech at the annual Alzheimer Society General Meeting in Peterborough. Last January, she was interviewed by CTV health reporter Avis Favaro.  Her performance on The National was also inspiring.  In that interview Susan said, “we choose to live with Alzheimer’s.” And she has lived by those words.  Since her diagnosis, she and Brian have travelled to Peru, Kenya, Western Canada, Turkey, Eastern Canada, Arizona and will be visiting Patagonia this February.

Susan is also now involved with the development of a “Dementia Friendly Downtown” program, where local shop keepers are encouraged to address the needs of customers with dementia. Susan and her local Alzheimer staff partner recently presented their ideas to the Bobcaygeon Chamber of Commerce members.  They were receptive.  After an initial trial in Bobcaygeon and some “tweaking,” she hopes to present the idea to the Chamber of Commerce in the much larger town of Lindsay, with the hope of full implementation.

With her experience in long-term care as a nurse, Susan knows that those with dementia require special accommodations.  Currently in Canada, these special accommodations are rare.  Susan would like to see that change. She is particularly interested in the promotion of specialized small group, residential homes similar to some that are functioning well in Great Britain, Europe and the United States.

Susan became a Dementia Champion because it allowed her the opportunity to do something that could help others. “I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t just sit here doing nothing.” Susan heartily recommends anyone interested in advocating for dementia to get involved as a “Champion for Dementia.”

Visit our website for how to become a Champion for Dementia.

susan-parishSusan Parish

Champion for Dementia