“We Serve” Feature: A Dementia Caretaker Finds Community
As part of Floyd Lee Locums volunteerism program, “We Serve,” we encourage employees to partner with people and programs that better the communities we live in. But, sometimes, as our Curriculum Development Specialist Joanna Van Oss found out—the community betters us at the same time.
In July 2020, Joanna, like millions across the country, had a parent diagnosed with dementia. In her case, Joanna’s mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia, but the community of those managing similar conditions including Alzheimer’s is broad and touches families of every background.
“Everyone’s journey is different,” said Joanna. “Even though my family was incredibly supportive and helped tremendously, I started feeling isolated, lonely and a multitude of other feelings. The pandemic was in full force, which didn’t help, and I didn’t have anyone to answer my questions.”
Those questions only multiplied for Joanna. So, upon her mother’s diagnosis, she started educating herself and joined community support groups for those going through similar caretaker journeys. This led her to MyAlzTeam (an online platform) and later the Alzheimer and Dementia Support by Compassionate Education on Facebook.
At first, Joanna described these resources as just an outlet to answer questions. But, as time went out—and she became comfortable with her role as full-time caretaker for her mother—she was able to provide support and answers to others searching for information.
“A lot of people have no idea the time, effort, mental and physical toll taking care of someone can have,” said Joanna. “Hearing other’s stories can be heartbreaking, especially when they don’t have any support, so I vowed to be there for those who I could help. I always take time out of my day to answer questions or to offer support. Providing moral support and showing that you care can have great impact on another person’s life—it did for me.”
These online communities and hubs are a lifeline for those navigating through the stages of disease. Joanna spoke to caretakers like her constantly and on several topics, like how to get her mother to eat when she needed help, what type of hallucination medications were best, what wipes to use for bathing, and more. These international Alzheimer and dementia caretaker groups surrounded her with information and support.
That’s why—while Joanna herself lost her mother only a few short months ago—she still continues to provide online help to caregivers living with and finding their ways through family diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Her advocacy and support will persist as a volunteer in Flagstaff with The Alzheimer’s Association Desert Southwest Chapter.
For her resilience, compassion, and generosity, we celebrate Joanna and how she gives back.
About Floyd Lee Locums
Floyd Lee Locums provides an elite concierge experience to Physicians, Dentists and advanced practice healthcare clinicians in hospitals and healthcare facilities nationwide. Founded by industry veterans Matt Floyd and Natasha Lee, the company has built an exceptional team of experienced locums and healthcare staffing professionals.
Named the “2020 Best Staffing Firm to Temp For” by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), their hands-on approach to delivering best-in-class service, personalized career solutions, and coverage that positively impacts patient outcomes is setting a new standard in the locums industry.