“It was totally an example of God taking something bad and turning it into something good,” said Sharon Osvald, who describes herself as “the mild-mannered worship coordinator” at Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Brighton, Ontario.
In 2010 Osvald’s mother suddenly developed vascular dementia and went from independence in her own home to complete dependence on her daughter. The sudden onset of the disease forced the Osvald family to change their plan of sharing their home with their 82-year-old mother and grandmother. Just four months after the elderly woman sold her home in southwestern Ontario to move into her daughter’s home in eastern Ontario, she was moved into a Brighton nursing home.
“After our situation finally settled down and Mom moved into her long-term care home, I felt compelled do something so that others would not have to go through the difficult transition we had due to a lack of information,” said Osvald. She began the blog mymotherscaregiver.com, journaling her experiences and directing people to local resources for support.
Soon she was being invited to share her story and consult with the medical community—including those who design and implement services for people with dementia. “This fall, I was offered the part-time position of Lived Experience Coordinator as part of a pilot project to collect other people’s lived experiences and input,” she said.
On February 18, Osvald’s church hosted a community event called What Next? offering area residents information about Alzheimer’s disease and the services and support available to help families dealing with dementia issues. More than 70 people, most of them not church members, battled snowy roads to attend.
Osvald said she received many positive comments afterward about what a practical way it was to serve the community where the need is so great.