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Make a Connection

The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County recognizes that people living with dementia and their caregivers are profoundly affected by COVID-19 and social distancing. We continue to respond to the needs of our community with Make a Connection.

22 December 2020 – The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County continues the fight against social isolation for people living with dementia exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact on people living with dementia and their caregivers has been profound: they are experiencing deep isolation, diminished social opportunities, and a disruption in routine, which may contribute to the acceleration of symptoms.

The Dementia Society’s new Make a Connection Program—serving Ottawa, Renfrew, Prescott-Russell and Lanark Counties—creates new virtual and in-person social connections for people living with dementia in the pandemic.

Make a Connection trains and matches screened volunteers with a person living with dementia for regular, personalized visits, while also providing the caregiver with a much-needed break. Visits can be made by phone, online or even safely in person. The program is offered in over a dozen languages—namely English, French, Mandarin, Arabic, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, Hungarian, Kurdish, German, Persian, and Dutch languages—thanks to a diverse group of volunteers.

“With our fabulous volunteer, Krystal, I get away for appointments. Every Monday she calls and speaks with my husband for an hour, giving me time to care for myself. Krystal is gold, the Dementia Society has done a good job hiring her, and she is fabulous.”

Susan ~ Caregiver in Ottawa

Make a Connection is free and it’s simple to register:

  1. Introductions: Fill in the client profile and tell us about yourself, if you are a person living with a diagnosis of dementia, or about your person living with dementia, if you are a caregiver.
  2. Connect: The Dementia Society will match you with a trained volunteer and schedule regular visit for your by phone, via a Web platform like Zoom or FaceTime, or even in person, safely.
  • Recharge: While the person living with dementia makes a new connection, the caregiver can take a few minutes to catch their breath, and take care of themselves and other business.

Funded by a grant of the United Way Eastern Ontario and the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund, the Make a Connection program was developed following the migration online of the majority of the Dementia Society’s numerous in-person support, education and recreation programs in April. “We knew at the outset of the pandemic that people living with dementia and their caregivers would find this time even more challenging than before. Dementia has a way of isolating people—weather you are a person with a diagnosis or a caregiver,” notes Wendy Grimshaw, CEO of the Dementia Society. “This new program is a way to reach people in their homes and connect one-on-one with individuals living with dementia, while also supporting caregivers.” With additional support from the Ottawa Community Foundation, we are also now able to visit people safely in their homes, when virtual visits don’t work for them.” (NOTE: This in-person program is suspended as a result of the province-wide shutdown beginning December 26, 2020 and will resume as soon as public health measures allow.)

Serving Ottawa and Renfrew County, the Dementia Society is proud to collaborate with the Alzheimer’s Societies of Cornwall and District, and Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Counties to support people living with dementia, their caregivers and families across these regions.

To learn more about this program, to register or to volunteer, please visit: or visit

Media enquiries:

Kate Holmes

Director of Marketing

Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County


About the Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County

Dementia affects our memory, thinking, emotions and ability to perform everyday tasks. In Ottawa and Renfrew County, 24,000 people live with a diagnosis of dementia and one in 5 of us cares for someone living with dementia. In the next decade, the number of diagnosed cases

is expected to double. The Dementia Society receives funds from the Champlain Local Health Integrated Network and through additional fund development initiatives, we develop, deliver and innovate a wide range of social, recreational and educational programs to reduce isolation

and engage people living with dementia and their caregivers and families in meaningful and supportive activities so that no-one faces dementia alone.

About United Way East Ontario:

Working with communities in Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark and Renfrew Counties, United Way East Ontario invests resources where they are needed most and will have the greatest impact. Through research, evaluation and partnerships with community experts, we identify the root causes of the biggest social challenges facing our communities and help find solutions that change tens of thousands of lives for the better. 100% of donations to United Way are put to work in the communities where they are raised to help those most in need.

About the Emergency Community Support Fund:

The Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) provides financial support to charities and other qualified donees adapting their frontline services to support vulnerable Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ECSF was announced by the Government of Canada and is administered in collaboration with United Way Centraide Canada, Community Foundations of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.

About The Ottawa Community Foundation:

The Ottawa Community Foundation is a public, non-profit organization created by and for the people of Ottawa. It connects donors who care with causes that matter and serves as a trusted resource for addressing issues and leveraging opportunities in the community. It attracts and manages a growing endowment, the invested earnings of which provide grants to charitable organizations.

The Foundation’s role is as neutral broker in support of all charitable causes that contribute to the community’s quality of life. With a growing profile, the Ottawa Community Foundation has built an enviable reputation for astute financial management, high-quality donor services, strategic grantmaking and innovative partnerships. For more information, visit

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