Carolyn and Ray’s Story – Caregiver Support
“Although everyone’s story is slightly different, they get it. They understand the feelings and understand what is happening with your loved one.”
A dementia diagnosis doesn’t just impact one person. It changes the lives of many, as a family navigates what their life will be like now that a loved one is living with dementia. It can be a difficult road to travel without support along the way.
As dementia affects everyone differently, no one’s journey is the same. For Ray, his diagnosis in 2009 was only the start of a long journey with dementia.
“At first, it was mild; we could just notice it at times. As the years went by, though, he lost many different abilities,” shared Carolyn, Ray’s wife and caregiver. “He was aware at first of what was going on and was very upset. He said one day, ‘I feel like I’m losing myself.’ He was aware something was wrong, but he couldn’t explain it.”
As Ray’s dementia began affecting more aspects of his life, he started attending two Adult Day Programs in Burlington and the former Sheridan Site (now at Patty’s Place).
“We were blessed here in Oakville with having Acclaim Health. Ray would visit the two day programs three times a week,” shared Carolyn. “My mom, who was living in Brampton, also started to need my support as I was caring for Ray. For a while, I was going back and forth to look after her needs and Ray’s. As time went, by I decided I needed some respite.”
With the support of personal support workers and companions, Carolyn was able to visit her mother without being concerned about Ray’s safety. She trusted her care team and knew that Ray would be safe while she was away.
“I could hire some of the Acclaim Health team for overnight visits, and that saved my life, I think, because I was actually able to get sleep,” shared Carolyn. “All of the PSW were so amazing. His companion that visited throughout the day, she was just so kind and compassionate and took such good care of Ray. Her energy was just so great.”
Carolyn not only got support for Ray from Acclaim Health but support for herself as a caregiver, attending one of our caregiver support groups virtually throughout the pandemic.
“The support groups were wonderful. It is always great to share time with people going through something similar to you. Although everyone’s story is slightly different, they get it. They understand the feelings and understand what is happening with your loved one.”
Acclaim Health runs various caregiver support groups to provide an outlet for the ups and downs of caring for a person living with dementia. These groups allow caregivers to meet, share experiences and explore solutions to common challenges.
“The support groups were a godsend. You could let it all hang out and get suggestions if you were having a particular problem with your loved one,” shared Carolyn. “Sometimes the suggestions worked, but mostly what I got was emotional support.”
Having access to support groups and caregiver activities is crucial for the wellbeing of a caregiver. Providing those moments of respite and support gives caregivers like Carolyn a place to relax and recharge.
“People need to know that there are so many exceptional services that Acclaim Health offers. Nursing, Companions, PSWs, Caregiver Support, it is all there. I wasn’t aware of it until I got involved,” shared Carolyn. “The new centre, Patty’s Place, is so amazing. I plan to stop by there one of these days and just grab a coffee in the caregiver café. If you need help, Acclaim Health has it.”