Volunteering with People Suffering from Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s affects more than 5.2 million Americans today and as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, that number will only increase. Most people know someone with a family member affected by the disease and because the problem is so widespread, there are many options for volunteering that allow one person to make a big difference.
Consider Becoming a Companion Volunteer
This volunteer role provides much needed in-home support both to the patient and to the caregivers of adults with Alzheimer’s. These volunteers provide companionship, social interaction and some supervision as well. The whole idea is that the volunteer is there to give the caregiver a short break for running errands, go to work or to just have a day off.
Get Informed Before Interacting with Alzheimer Patients
Before Working directly with Alzheimer’s patients, it is a good idea to seek out some instruction or information about the best ways to communicate and talk with Alzheimer’s patients. Most organizations will provide basic training but there are many sources for this kind of information and some are online. One good resource is respected expert and educator, Teepa Snow. There are free videos on her website that can help guide volunteers about how to have conversations and interactions with Alzheimer’s patients. Access a few free videos with Teepa Snow on the Pines of Sarasota website. (https://www.pineseducation.org/welcome-to-the-free-dementia-care-video-clip-library-copy/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAl8rQBRDrARIsAEW_To_bi8iMeaRuBTHhJiR8SsIY8iC-700EXJnoqHo0DjWAKzj_ugqQRbkaAt_ZEALw_wcB)
There are Many Options to Help without Direct Care
Direct care refers to work or help that is given directly to the patient or their family. That is one option, but for many that is not a good fit. They want to help but are not comfortable with direct care. There are plenty of ways to volunteer that do not involve direct interaction. For example, on the Alzheimer’s Association website, each chapter lists volunteer roles that are open and available. Some include office help, event volunteers, and services in kind like providing marketing consulting or help with their communications or support operations.
Another Common Option Making a Big Difference
People without Alzheimer’s are able to participate in an unusual but powerful way by taking part in medical tests or clinical trials that support Alzheimer’s research. This opportunity is not available in every state but when there is a research facility nearby, it is possible to volunteer for ongoing tests and other research. Some of them are medical in nature, others are not. Volunteers can choose what types of activities they are comfortable with but with Alzheimer’s on the rise, this kind of work can make a big difference in finding treatments or a cure that work. To learn what clinical trials are available for volunteers, go to the Alzheimer’s Association Trial Match site. (https://www.alz.org/research/clinical_trials/find_clinical_trials_trialmatch.asp)
Volunteer opportunities are listed on the Alzheimer Association’s website, by geography, simply visit https://www.alz.org and enter a zip code in the topline to find a chapter that is close by or click to search by state. Each chapter posts their specific and ongoing need for volunteers.
SeniorAdvice.com Scholarships for Student Volunteers
SeniorAdvice.com is currently accepting applications for two $1000 scholarships awarded to students who will be attending college in 2018. Eligibility is based on whether the student has been a caregiver for an adult relative or if they have been a volunteer in a senior living community over the past year. All students who fit the criteria are encouraged to apply. Details and instructions for how to apply are available at https://www.senioradvice.com/scholarships.
- Lori Thomas has decades of experience as a caregiver. Her writing for SeniorAdvice.com is informed by years of research as well as hands-on family experience caring for her now late mother, who had chronic health issues for most of her life. Lori is an integral part of the SeniorAdvice.com management team, acting as Vice President of Marketing and Chief Editor.
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