My career in health care started in 1973 when I became a registered nurse, but my counselling career started when I became the Family Life Nurse at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto in 1979. From St. Michael’s Hospital, I moved to St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener where I continued to be the Family Life Nurse in the Social Work Department.
I graduated with a master’s degree in social work, (with distinction) from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1993. While at WLU, I focused my studies on individual and family counselling with a special focus on issues related to people over age 60.
In 1997 I received training from The Ministry of the Attorney General to conduct capacity assessments (which are requested when a person’s decision-making capacity is in question).
It was this extra training that focused my attention on the rights of older adults with the many and serious decisions they may be faced with – deciding to downsize, deciding to give away personal items, deciding to leave the family home, are among the many emotional decisions an older adult may be faced with.
I have also witnessed the demands that a family member or ” substitute decision maker (SDM)” is faced with when they are called on to make sometimes a life and death decision for someone else.
Since 1997 I have worked in a practice solely dedicated to the concerns facing seniors and the people who care for them. This decision to specialize kept my interest for the past 19 years as tremendous health discoveries have emerged and as community support groups have developed for people facing specific diseases (dementia, Parkinson’s and post stroke). There is so much help available now, which is a blessing and sometimes, a curse.
Since 1997 until 2012 I did contract work with the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington & Dufferin (formerly Trellis). In this role I responded to the urgent requests to assess a person showing symptoms of depression, anxiety, confusion or forgetfulness. I met with older adults who were victims of abuse and I acted as a consultant for two programs (the CRBT and IGSW) who serve older adults.
I developed and facilitated an educational series for older adults in the belief that “knowledge is power”
For the Alzheimer’s Society Guelph Wellington, it has been my privilege to facilitate groups for individuals newly diagnosed with a dementia. I have led groups for caregivers of people with a critical illness for Hospice Wellington. I have facilitated groups for people who have suffered losses – from loss of a pregnancy to loss of a loved one through suicide . In every group, I have seen the power of peer support as someone exclaims “You feel the same way, too?!
I am a member of The Association of Social Workers, Hospice Wellington, the Alzheimer’s Society, the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly and Parkinson Canada.
I am committed, both professionally and personally to point out ageism in all its forms and to promote the right of adults to age in a compassionate, respectful and supportive culture.