'It Was Nice to be Able to See Him Smile'

Written by Darryl Mathers on . Posted in Family Experience

It was a trying time for Beth and her family.

Her husband, Les, was struggling with Alzheimer’s disease as an inpatient on the Geriatric Dementia Unit (GDU) at Ontario Shores as the family was dealing with the hardship of watching the health of a loved one deteriorate.

No stranger to Ontario Shores, Beth worked in the Finance Department for 30 years before retiring from her full-time position in 2000. She worked part-time until her husband’s health worsened and required full-time care on GDU. As a caregiver to her husband, Beth saw a side of the hospital she had not experienced before.

“Working in finance I was never exposed to the medical side,” she says. “It really gave me an appreciation for what they do and the care they provide.”

Beth visited Les frequently and built relationships with both staff and volunteers. But there was one volunteer in particular who left a lasting impact on Beth and her family.

“He would just light up when he saw her,” says Beth of longtime Ontario Shores volunteer Judy Haight. “She just had that very pleasant and happy personality that the patients really loved.”

Judy, whose mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, is a retired Registered Nurse who worked in maternity and gynecology before becoming a volunteer at Ontario Shores almost 20 years ago.

“I like everything about it,” Judy says of volunteering. “I like caring for people and working with them to make something better.”

Beth appreciated Judy’s impact on Les and still cherishes those moments.

“It was nice to be able to see him smile,” she says with a tear in her eye. “It was great to know that was still in him. That was nice.”

Les passed away in 2008, but Beth’s relationship with the hospital has continued. She now volunteers as the treasurer of the Ontario Shores’ Volunteer Association and frequently runs into staff who cared for her husband. She also still sees Judy, that memorable volunteer.

“I see her in summertime, we lawn bowl together,” an emotional Beth says of Judy. “She tells my grandson when she sees him that he looks like his grandpa with his blue eyes.”

 This is one of several recovery stories featured in our 2015-16 Annual Report.