John Nelson, 54, is from Newtownabbey and was inspired to be a My Life My Way volunteer, having supported his dad for many years to deal with dementia.
Soon after my mother passed away, my father developed dementia, and I looked after him for the next seven years in his own home.
I feel that in a strange way I have had the experience of 'living' his disease for him, from early onset until he needed nursing care. I have been his advocate, fighting his corner when things went wrong, finding ways to manage his behaviour, and ways to keep him safe with new technology. I also support my 'adopted' aunt (a close friend) to care for her sister who is also living with dementia.
My adopted aunt recently said that she would have been lost trying to come to terms with her sister's dementia without my input. I could not have helped her without my experiences with my dad.
I found out about the My Life My Way project through the Age NI website. Having spent time overcoming the hurdles of the care system and accessing services, while caring for my dad and dealing with the trials and tribulations of this ever changing disease, I felt that I could put my understanding to good use.
I felt that I could support other people living with dementia and help their carers who are in a similar situation to the one I was in. So I downloaded the My Life My Way application forms, applied and then met Age NI's project manager, Mandy. After standard checks I attended a training session where I met like-minded volunteers, and shortly after I was matched up with my first client.
It couldn't have been easier to get involved. I get a lot of self satisfaction from volunteering as I enjoy helping others and it's also an opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills. It does my heart good!
Age NI Volunteer
Read about becoming a My Life My Way Volunteer.