Youth Cut Through Alzheimer’s Maze to Make a Connection
Posted Feb 20 2011 8:47am
It seems like an unlikely pairing -- an elderly person with cognitive problems and a young student...
Alzheimer's Reading Room
The article referenced below was of great interest to me.
Three years ago, I tried to make contact with the principal of our local high school on this exact issue. My idea? How about pairing Alzheimer's patients with students? Why not? High school students are required to perform community service in order to graduate.
I wasn't under any illusion that it would be easy to initiate a program of this type. But, I was already convinced that over time students would flock to the program once the obvious benefits became well known.
Here is what happened.
First, I was sloughed off to the principal's assistant. After I explained why I was calling, she told me she would call me back in a day or two.
I called her back after five days. She then told me the teachers were too busy. I asked if she would have the principal call me. No call. I called again in five more days.
I was then told that if I wanted to do anything with the students, I had to go to the school fill out some forms and get finger printed. I tried to explain that what I wanted to do was talk to the principal of the school.
After another week, I went to the school and filled out the forms. They told me I couldn't get finger printed because the only person that took the prints was out until the following week.
I called her 3 times, she never returned my call. I gave up.
"There was definitely something missing in my life" Angelica Ortiz told me. This bright young woman, who plans a career in medicine, perhaps research, has found great satisfaction and the joy that comes from helping another.
"I found out the older person I am spending time with has no family in London so it's important I be with her." Ortiz is one of 300 volunteers of all ages who work with the Alzheimer Society, London and Middlesex. The group I met were all students at the University of Western Ontario and find dealing with Alzheimer's disease or other cognitive issues very rewarding.
"I really benefit from my time with the gentleman I spend time with. He's 82 and loves to walk so I am keeping fit walking with him," says Shamis Nabeel.
I guess I am not made of the "right stuff". Maybe someone will read this and try to get the program going in their community.
Seems to me like this would be a good project for the Alzheimer's Association to pilot if they are not already doing so. If they are, they should create a written plan so it can be shared, and the program could be tried all over the country. You know, real grass roots stuff that makes a difference to Alzheimer's patients and caregivers.
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an X Wall Street executive turned full time Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,310 articles with more than 285,100 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.