HCN News & Notes

Glenmeadow Seeks Volunteer Companions for Residents with Dementia

LONGMEADOW — Glenmeadow is seeking companions to spend time with residents who are living with dementia and will offer a training for the volunteers on Tuesday, Oct. 9 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the life-plan community.

Laura Lavoie, director of life enrichment at Glenmeadow, said the new volunteers will receive certificates of completion in a Positive Approach to Care (PAC) training that she will lead as a PAC-certified trainer. Volunteers will then be asked to make a weekly commitment of several hours to a resident.

“The more we can get people in the community to feel comfortable communicating and spending time with people living with dementia, the better-equipped they will be when they meet people in the community living with the disease,” Lavoie said. “It would be really great to have people coming from around the area to work with our residents, who might feel isolated and misunderstood.”

She said the program feeds into the buddy-system culture that Glenmeadow is growing, through which residents are paired with a companion and have the opportunity to build meaningful, long-term relationships. “This allows our residents to feel a new connection with someone and feel that they have a friend who is interested in them.”

As part of its strategic plan, Glenmeadow has enhanced its focus on dementia care, and Lavoie said this volunteer offering is yet another way to offer support to those in the community living with dementia and their family members.

Glenmeadow also offers a new Memory Café, a monthly gathering for people living with dementia and their caregivers, and offers two monthly caregiver support groups to professionals and family members who are assisting someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. Glenmeadow is also part of the Dementia Friendly Longmeadow initiative.

Lavoie was recently certified in PAC and is able to train volunteers in developing a positive outlook in working with people who are living with dementia. “We are developing a new culture around dementia, trying to remove the stigma,” she said. “We want to train people to focus on the person who is still here and his or her strengths, rather than on the skills and abilities they might have lost.”

To volunteer at Glenmeadow or for information on the support groups or dementia tour, contact Lavoie at (413) 355-5905 or llavoie@glenmeadow.org.