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Hilary Doxford writes “A month in the life of a volunteer”

Thursday 26 November 2015

I am fortunate to still be working full time despite my diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. I also find great enjoyment in my volunteering role to do whatever I can, wherever I can, whilst I still can to make a difference for those of us with dementia and those who help us.

So what does a typical month look like for me? As Christmas approaches things quieten down on the volunteering front. But to give you some idea of what you can become involved with, here are some excerpts from my November diary.

Three filming sessions: to help with fundraising; working with researchers; and the importance of involving people with dementia in all aspects of project work.

Four conferences, speaking about: building a dementia friendly community; giving a patient perspective at the opening of a new brain research centre; “Together for ‘Dementia” how to better work together to improve lives; and driving innovation.

Four clinical trial and research appointments: mapping disease progression and cognitive decline; seeing if a blood pressure drug can slow decline; understanding change in the hippocampus; changes in amyloid and tau.

Attending two steering group meetings: improving our local hospital for patients with dementia; evaluating services for younger people with dementia.

Document reviews: commenting on the Alzheimer’s Society five year strategy; providing feedback to four researchers on their projects; reviewing eight grant applications.

Completed a four week on-line course on “Improving Healthcare through Clinical Research”.

In addition I have written three articles, attended the AGM (online) of Dementia Alliance International, taken part in calls relating to the World Dementia Council’s plans for 2016, written a framework for the initial steps to set up a new working group in England and Wales, and prepared for: a radio interview; attending the EWGPWD in Brussels; and an international conference in Switzerland in December.

So volunteering gives me huge scope to be involved in many aspects of dementia. Most of all it does me good keeping my brain stretched and active, gives me hope from the great insight into all the good work going on and selfishly, it makes me feel a little better about myself. Volunteer, so much to gain.

Hilary Doxford

Vice-chair EWGPWD