When my wife Gloria was living with dementia, we discovered that the care, concern and compassion of staff members at the Alzheimer Society has a beginning, but not an end.
I first noticed that things were changing in Gloria a few years ago when she couldn’t remember the ingredients in her favourite recipes. The changes were gradual, but eventually we decided to get things checked out.
At one medical appointment, a resident doctor wondered if we would like to be referred to the Alzheimer Society. We didn’t make contact immediately, but when we finally did, we were welcomed with warmth and kindness.
That was just the beginning of our relationship with the Society and its staff, who cared for us gently and with no judgement. The first thing we did was attend the Experiencing Dementia workshop for six weeks. Gloria looked forward to it every week and thought she was attending a “class.”
As time progressed, we joined support groups – Gloria was in a group for people with dementia, while I attended informal meetings with spousal caregivers in a nearby restaurant. I also took part in a special group that helped me, as a caregiver, to understand loss associated with dementia and to develop coping strategies.
Another highlight was my participation in the Care4u Family Conference, where I connected with families at different stages of the journey. Despite the serious discussions, I always came away with hope.
Gloria passed away on March 11. It was then that I found out that support from the Society doesn’t end. I still meet with staff, and I continue to have coffee with my friends in the informal group. These meetings are a source of encouragement for all of us.
My four children and I bought a leaf for the Society’s Memory Tree – every time I visit, I see Gloria’s leaf and am reminded about the care and support she received.
The meaningful connections that Gloria and I made with the Society would never have happened had it not been for the suggestion from the resident doctor five years ago.
I have learned that the Society can barely keep up with the referrals that come in. I can’t imagine not having the support that we got, and I encourage you to donate to the Society so others can get it, too.
The caring staff were there for Gloria and I, and my hope is that they can be available for you in your time of need.