A Relationship of Care

Health-care aide Jocelyn Supremido helps families living with dementia like Meta and Helmut Wieser

 Photo by Jared Sych

Photo by Jared Sych

Retirement can mean many things, including travel, hobbies and more fun with friends and family. But never in Meta Wieser’s wildest dreams did she consider that Alzheimer’s disease would trump all those plans. In 2010, her husband, Helmut, a retired chemistry professor at the University of Calgary, was diagnosed with the disease, and, in March of 2015, he moved to a long-term care facility.

Revera Bow-Crest Care Centre has been a lifesaver for the couple and their two grown children, says Wieser. “The staff is excellent.”

The path to the facility was a bumpy one. First, there was the pre-diagnostic phase when Helmut was still on the job. Memory loss, short-tempered outbursts and difficulties driving were explained away as preoccupation or work-related stress. But after he was unable to complete an executor duty, he reluctantly agreed to see a doctor and the condition was confirmed.

Wieser relied on two-hour-a-week homecare sessions and a support group with seven other couples who were also dealing with dementia called Memory P.L.U.S.

But the situation deteriorated. Helmut began to wander early in his diagnosis, and in January 2015 he wandered into –20-degree weather and threatened Wieser. Emergency Medical Services and Calgary Police Service attended and advised Wieser that her husband was “a danger to himself and to others.” They took him to the Foothills Medical Centre, where he was cared for until a bed came open in long-term care.

Now, it is the team at Bow-Crest who make the difference. One special staff member is health-care aide Jocelyn Supremido. Originally from the Philippines, Supremido brings a background in nursing to her role at Bow-Crest, a job that she has held for the past nine years. Supremido says the best part of her job is connecting with the residents. “Connecting makes my job easier and helps put them at ease,” she says. “I try to listen and talk to them like people.” Supremido’s own grandmother had dementia, so she is inspired to treat the people she cares for like family.

“She was the only one who could handle him at first,” says Wieser. “She is kind, gentle and talks to Helmut when she is attending to him.”

Supremido also connects with Wieser when she visits. “Whenever I have spare time I try to sit down with Meta and share Helmut’s day with her, I let her know when he is happy,” she says.

Wieser has complete trust and confidence in the group at Bow-Crest as they care for her husband of 50 years. She can now go to the bank, visit with a friend and shop for groceries without worrying.

Although life is still a challenge — Helmut is now in a wheelchair and is uncommunicative — there is less guilt, anxiety and upset. Wieser knows Helmut is getting good care, is being treated with respect and with the dignity he deserves. And thanks to healthcare professionals like Supremido it is getting easier, she says. “I am very grateful.” [ ]


Is there a special caregiver who makes a difference? Let us know at greatcare@dementiaconnections.ca