Brenda's Story: Respite and Adult Day Programs in Waterloo Wellington Support Residents and Allow Caregivers to Participate in Life

Brenda and her motherBrenda has fulfilled many roles in her life.  She has a full time career, she is a wife, a mother, a daughter. She is also a caregiver.  And some of the services that are available in Waterloo Wellington to support caregivers have allowed her to continue playing the role of daughter and caregiver while participating in all other aspects of her busy life.

“My mom moved in with my family about 10 years ago, after my father passed away,” she explains. “At first, it was just small things that we noticed. She would be driving and forget where she was going, she would repeat herself, she would misplace items but then it turned into trouble reasoning and making decisions. She also became easily confused.”

Brenda thought the behavior to be out-of-character for her mother but the family doctor thought it could be changes brought on by mild depression after experiencing the loss of her husband.

“I knew it was more than depression though,” says Brenda. “I really had to advocate for her, and be her voice.”

Then came the diagnosis. It was Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer’s. The family provided day-to-day support and care and as the disease progressed, began looking into available support services to keep her mother active, safe and engaged.

“She first started attending a day program one day per week at Trinity Village,” says Brenda. “We wanted her to be able to attend the program more often but each day had a separate waiting list.”

Community Support Connections, an organization that provides a range of services and supports to help adults live at home with independence and dignity provided Brenda’s mother with rides to and from the day program. Now, Brenda’s mother attends the day program at Trinity Village and Sunnyside five days each week.

“The day programs are great – I wouldn’t be able to continue working without them,” says Brenda. “It gives me a sense of security. I know she’s safe, she’s getting meals and she’s getting some social support. They have a range of activities and crafts that my mother enjoys.  The staff and volunteers at the Day Program are all wonderful.”

Brenda has also used the overnight respite program at Sunnyside a couple of times.  This has also allowed Brenda and her family to plan to take a vacation early next year, knowing that her mother will be safe and cared for while they are away. “Caregiver fatigue is very, very real,” says Brenda. “Do not underestimate it and the importance of looking after yourself.”

The Waterloo Wellington Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) has arranged for some Personal Support Work (PSW) and the Community Responsive Behaviour Team to strategize how to manage her mom’s agitation and wandering in order to reduce safety risks.  For now, Brenda is fortunate enough to be able to supplement the shortfall of hours with private care.

“There are great services in the community but sometimes they are difficult to access, with wait lists, especially as the disease progresses. As our population continues to age we certainly need more support to prevent people from reaching a crisis stage.”

Supporting caregivers health and well-being is a priority of the Waterloo Wellington LHIN. The WWLHIN recently invested $1 million in additional caregiver supports.

Brenda’s last reminder: be a strong advocate for your loved one, plan early and seek out the support you will need.

Resources

Waterloo Wellington CCAC

Community Support Connections

For information and Adult Day Program locations throughout Waterloo Wellington