A new program is matching up Islanders who have dementia or Alzheimer's disease with volunteers to visit them a few times a week in their homes.

The Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward Island is starting the companion volunteer program and is looking for people who are patient, kind and open to trying new things. Three people with dementia are currently waiting for a volunteer companion. 

"They would do anything that a normal friend would do," Hannah Buckie, the community support co-ordinator with the society, told Mainstreet P.E.I.

Respite for caregivers

"They come in they provide some respite care for the caregiver, which is basically the whole premise of this program." 

To provide the best match, everyone fills out forms about their past life and work experience, as well as preferences such as non-smoking and even religion. Criminal record checks and references are part of the process too. 

Hannah Buckie

Hannah Buckie of P.E.I.'s Alzheimer Society is looking for volunteers to visit with Islanders with dementia.

The society has made up kits for volunteer companions that include suggestions for activities, as well as board games, cards and colouring books. Volunteers can borrow an iPad with dementia-friendly apps.

The society has already made one match, which Buckie said has been great success. 

"It's going even better than I could have imagined. It's very beneficial for both individuals — the volunteer and the individual with dementia. The caregiver tells us great things every single week and they can't thank us enough for helping them." 

Looks great on a resumé

Volunteers have an opportunity to give back, and Buckie said the experience looks great on a resumé.

Both caregivers seeking respite and Islanders who would like to volunteer can find applications on the society's website or from their office in Charlottetown. 

Listen to Mainstreet P.E.I. weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m.

With files from Angela Walker