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Volunteers and Dementia Care

February 26, 2015

By Editor
The following profiles of two volunteers are representative of the almost 250 volunteers of ASLM. 

Blair is currently a M.Sc. candidate in exercise physiology at Western and will be starting medical school in the fall of 2015. He has been volunteering in the Volunteer Companion Program, Food for Thought and Minds in Motion. 

For Agnes, being retired but keeping busy as a volunteer provides an environment for learning, and enhances the quality of her life. Over the last two decades she has been a caregiver for 4 family members, all with dementia. Agnes volunteers in the Artful Minds program.

Of all the places in London you could volunteer your time, why did you choose to volunteer at the Alzheimer Society? 
Blair: It was because of ASLM’s unique set of programs and services. As a firm believer in exercise as medicine, I was excited to participate in Minds in Motion. It was a perfect blend of my own extracurricular passions and an opportunity to give back to the community.
Agnes: I happened to see a video of the Artful Minds program.  As a former caregiver and with a life- long involvement in art, the Artful Minds program was one where I could have something to offer and be involved as a volunteer.  

What impact do you hope to have working with someone with dementia?
Blair: My biggest hope is that I can help them maintain their sense of self and normalcy in their lives. Living with dementia can be tumultuous, but it’s my goal to make the experience as positive as possible.
Agnes: Calm encouragement helps clients recognize and use their skills to the fullest.  Creating an atmosphere in the program where they feel comfortable and can express themselves in artful activities enables them to maintain their strengths and abilities longer.

What is your most memorable moment from your time volunteering with ASLM?
Blair: Minds in Motion has been that for me. During and after the completion of the exercise program, you can see the impact and clarity that the exercise provides to the group. To see those changes is inspiring.
Agnes: It is heartwarming  to see the genuine pleasure clients express each time they come to the program particularly once they’ve completed their projects.  The laughter and friendly connection shared among all those attending makes for a very pleasant atmosphere in these sessions.

What impact has volunteering at ASLM had on you?
Blair: It’s had a large impact on my life. I didn’t have a strong connection to the elderly growing up, but my time with the clients has given me positive new perspectives and is always a bright spot to my week.
Agnes: I’m pleased to be volunteering in a program that provides opportunities for individuals to enhance their abilities, giving them a sense of accomplishment. I leave each session feeling uplifted.

Want a great volunteer experience? Contact our Volunteer Services Coordinator, Jennifer Hale; 519-680-2404 ext. 234 or jhale@alzheimerlondon.ca.