Still worth something

From the February / March 2017 issue of our magazine, we hear from a Society service user for whom volunteering has given her a reason to carry on.

Lily Harris was shocked to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.

‘I was shattered – I couldn’t believe what was going on,’ she says. ‘I thought, “No, there’s been a mistake”.’

Deciding she didn’t want to ‘sit and feel sorry for herself’, Lily began supporting other people with dementia at a weekly Alzheimer’s Society memory café and a monthly film club in Bridgend, south Wales. She later became an official Society volunteer. 

Strong support

Lily, 72, helps with making tea, washing up, helping people around the venue and generally ensuring that everyone is happy and comfortable. 

‘It’s brilliant, you feel as though you’re still worth something.’

She is treated the same as other volunteers.

‘You’re telling me, I am!’ Lily laughs. ‘I stay behind to do the training sessions and I read paperwork at home.’

The clubs are marvellous, the best thing going. The people here are brilliant, they let me help,’ she says.

‘I’ve made an awful lot of friends here, they give me the reason to carry on,’ says Lily.

She also values the additional help that is available if needed.

‘One of the girls takes me home – it’s good to know you’ve got somebody there. They keep an eye on me, they keep an eye on everybody.’

Can’t stop her

Lily, who lives by herself in a housing complex, says volunteering keeps her going.

‘I’ve made an awful lot of friends here, they give me the reason to carry on,’ she says.

She even took a trip to Australia on her own last year.

‘My son said I couldn’t go but I said, “You can’t stop me!” I had a whale of a time. I can’t remember it all but I’ve got the pictures, including one of me holding a koala!’

Lily is determined to live as positively as possible with dementia.

‘Sometimes you do feel sorry for yourself, but I think, “Come on Lil, get on with life!”

‘We all have a cry sometimes, that’s natural, but you’ve got to get on with it.

‘You’ve got to make the most of every minute.’

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