Henry, Mark, Emily and Sarah meet once a month to talk about how their lives are affected by dementia. They are all caring for family members who are in various stages of the disease. They attend a free caregiver support group offered by the non-profit Alzheimer Society of BC.
“This is their lifeline,” says Julie Leffelaar, the Society’s Support and Education Coordinator for Nelson. “They can meet with people with similar issues who are in a unique position to offer support to others on the same journey. The group is a place where they can talk openly, share information and give each other mutual support.”
An estimated one in 11 BC residents over age 65 already live with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. That number is projected to double within a generation (25 years). The resulting need for assistance is soaring, and volunteers help ensure that the demand is met.
“Volunteers are absolutely invaluable to our team,” said Leffelaar. “It’s exceptionally rewarding work to know that you are making a meaningful difference in someone’s life. Our volunteers tell us they get far more in return than they give.”
Want to be a support group facilitator? The position has a few requirements:
* Excellent listening and empathetic skills.
* Knowledge of dementia or a willingness to learn.
* Facilitation skills or a willingness to learn.
* Formal or informal caregiving experience an asset.
Training is provided and a one-year commitment is required.
For more information and to volunteer, contact Leffelaar at 1-855-301-6742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents can get more information on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by visiting www.alzheimerbc.org.