/Volunteers needed to help bring Memories to Life
SIRCH’s new senior wellness co-ordinator, Jan Saugh, is looking for volunteers and participants to help launch Memories to Life, a program that helps seniors living with dementia create a scrapbook of their life. The program will provide training to volunteers and pair them with participants. Those interested in volunteering or participating can contact SIRCH. /Photo submitted

Volunteers needed to help bring Memories to Life

If you enjoy the company of seniors and are a good listener then we want to hear from you! SIRCH Community Services is re-launching a program aimed at supporting seniors with memory loss or early stage dementia through the creation of a scrapbook filled with their life stories. 

Memories to Life was first developed and piloted by SIRCH over 10 years ago.  The success of the pilot was undeniable, however, until this year, funding was not available.  Recently an anonymous donor funded SIRCH to reinitiate this valuable program, set to launch in March.

SIRCH executive director, Gena Robertson, is excited about the possibilities this program can bring to isolated seniors who are looking for connection, companionship and a supporter who can help bring their legacy to life. 

“Research shows that social isolation is associated with about a 50 per cent increased risk of dementia, as well as speeding the cognitive decline,” Robertson said. “Memory loss can create profound sadness and grief at the loss of the life as you know it. It may affect self-esteem and create depression or anxiety, especially during COVID.  Memories to Life is about providing connection and a sense of value.”

Memories to Life is designed to help seniors with memory loss remember and document their accomplishments, their history and the people who have been important in their lives, and give them a sense of pride, belonging and recognition of their impact on the world. As memory loss progresses the memory books will provide family members and friends with a way of communicating and reassuring the person with dementia, as memory and ability to communicate decreases.

Prior to the program launch this March, SIRCH is looking for volunteers and participants to partake in this new initiative. Volunteers will be supervised by SIRCH’s new senior wellness co-ordinator, Jan Saugh.  

“Volunteers can be any age, but need to be able to listen and be non-judgmental. Our volunteers will be matched with someone following training, factoring in things like location and interests, etc.,” said Saugh. “Volunteers should be able to commit two to four hours each week. Ideally, each volunteer will help two to three clients over a one-year period.” 

If you think you would be a good fit for this program, either as a participant or a volunteer, or if you want to learn more about it we encourage you to contact SIRCH. Selected volunteers will go through a three to four day orientation and training process prior to the start of the program, and will meet regularly to share ideas and resources.

Robertson is grateful for the wonderful donation that brought Memories to Life back.  “We are so thankful. The donors want no recognition – they just want to support this community. Wow!”

Those interested in volunteering or participating can contact Jan Saugh, co-ordinator for senior wellness by emailing  jan_saugh@sirch.on.ca or call 705-457-1742. 

Submitted by SIRCH Community Services