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Courageous Caregiver: Althea’s Journey

Dedication and caring have been central in Althea’s life for many years prior to becoming her spouse Ralph’s primary caregiver.

When Althea was in her 20s, and working as a single mother, she suffered a stroke. The care she received during her recovery inspired her to return to school and become a community nurse. She made a full recovery from her stroke, and went on to work for over 30 years in hospitals and community agencies.

“One of my roles involved working as a nurse on a reserve. I was proud to contribute as the only Black woman in the community,” says Althea.

After retiring from her nursing career, Althea wanted to continue caring for her community and decided to return to university to become a nursing teacher. “I wanted to help train the next generation of nurses,” she says.

Unfortunately, only four months before she was to finish her degree, Althea lost her vision due to glaucoma. Her teaching plans looked like they were over.

After connecting with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Althea had renewed hope. The organization encouraged her to return to school, and she’s currently in the process of completing her degree.

While managing the last few courses she has to complete, Althea also provides primary caregiving support to her spouse Ralph. Ralph recently suffered a brain aneurism, leaving him with hearing and cognitive issues as well as epilepsy.

Connecting to the Caregiver Club for Support

In May 2021, Althea connected with Caregiver Navigator Faith Robinson and Social Worker Patricia Wendy for support.

Both Faith and Patricia have worked with Althea to provide supportive counseling and access to caregiver webinars, helping her feel connected to a larger community of family caregivers.

“The counseling has helped me to adapt to life changes in a more positive way,” says Althea. “I’ve always been a strong and independent woman, and maintaining a sense of control has been important to me.” 

Additionally, receiving community resources, such as Meals on Wheels from Bernard Betel Centre, and weekly Circle of Care PSW visits for her and her spouse, has helped Althea and Ralph adjust to the new changes that face both of them.

“The meals and visits are a true blessing,” says Althea. “They’ve helped a lot.”

Overall, being connected with the Caregiver Club has allowed Althea to maintain a positive spirit as she learns to navigate her vision loss and the demands of caring for Ralph.

Nominated as the Courageous Caregiver for September

Patricia nominated Althea as this month’s ‘Courageous Caregiver’.

“Althea’s life is incredibly inspiring,” says Patricia. “She’s so committed to her caregiving role, as well as pursuing her own ambitions. I’m incredibly proud to recognize Althea as this month’s Courageous Caregiver.”