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Volunteers enrich seniors’ lives

Volunteers are the heart of Nanaimo Travellers Lodge, a non-profit, charitable organization and the only dedicated dementia care facility in the mid-Island.

The lodge has 75 active volunteers of all ages as well as the 11 board directors who give their time, talents and energy to enhance the lives of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“Volunteers greatly enrich the lives of the elders by freely giving their time to assist elders engage in meaningful programming,” said Sharen Plecas, volunteer coordinator at the lodge. “The elders look forward to the time they spend with our volunteers. The time they contribute truly makes a difference.”

Travellers volunteers work with trained activity aides who assist residents with baking, crafts, bowling, walks, etc. The lodge also relies on volunteers for monthly entertainment, assisting residents care for indoor plants as well as adventure into the gardens in the spring and summer, watering the plants and seedlings.

The process of an activity is far more important than the finished product for most people living with dementia. The simple acts of cooking, gardening, caring for pets or playing cards make residents feel good.

Keeping skills alive and triggering positive memories are some of the goals of NTL’s volunteer assisted programs.

Solveig Hanson, 13, has been volunteering since the fall to bake with the residents or help with the fitness program. The residents have gotten used to having the vibrant Grade 8 student around and wait for her at the door on Saturdays.

“I really look forward to the way the elders faces light up when I come to volunteer,” said Hanson. “The more time I spend with them I realize that everyone has an interesting story to tell about their life experiences or their family – I learn a lot from them.”

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