Married for over 40 years, Rosanna Olsson and her husband, Allan, live in a cozy apartment in Kitchener.

“I would like to try to stay in our home together for as long as we can. So far I’m healthy so I hope I can stay there for a long time with him,” said Rosanna.

Rosanna is a full time caregiver to her husband who was diagnosed with dementia two years ago. He attends an Alzheimer’s day program twice a week, and uses transportation services with Community Support Connections – Meals on Wheels and More (CSC) to get to and from the group.

“It’s such a relief, especially in the winter time. I don’t have to worry about him getting there. I’m always waiting when he comes home,” she said.

Reluctant at first, Rosanna eventually reached out for support to help manage the unique challenges she was facing in her caregiver role.  She is now a participant in CSC’s caregiver support sessions hosted by Linda Flemming, Client and Caregiver Engagement Specialist.

“You feel guilty sometimes. You think why me, you cry, and you just feel really down. And then Linda makes you feel like you’re a good person, you’re the caregiver, so it makes you feel good,” she said.

During the four week sessions, caregivers learn about topics including self-care and how to navigate the healthcare system. Upon completion, caregivers are welcome to attend an ongoing peer support group.

“Caring for a loved one can be fulfilling, but it can also be isolating. Our support groups can help make things a little easier by providing a sense of connection,” said Will Pace, CSC’s Executive Director.

While Allan is attending the day program, Rosanna enjoys activities like going for dinner with friends. Self-care is now a vital part of Rosanna’s life as it helps her be a better caregiver.

“I love coming to the group because it’s very supportive and I find it very encouraging. Sometimes I get rather negative, but when I come to the group, I feel more positive,” said Rosanna.

Rosanna hopes that by sharing her story she will encourage other caregivers who are feeling alone on their journeys to seek the support they need.

“My one tip for a caregiver is to try to keep positive, to look ahead, and just take your time and challenge each day, and be thankful for what you do have,” she said.

CSC’s caregiver support sessions are free for participants and a variety of dates are available to accommodate those with busy schedules.

If you are interested in learning more about the program, or if you would like to support the program with the gift of a donation, please call CSC’s office at (519) 772-8787 or visit cscmow.org.