Community Blog

The Joy of Inclusion

By Bonnie Roberts

I love being part of my husband’s large family and attending the annual reunion which always caps off the holiday season. Even though we get together at least once, sometimes twice, a year and most of us are connected through Facebook, it’s always fun and surprising to personally witness the maturity and growth of the younger generation. (It’s also mighty fun to be the “old aunt” who sits back and watches the young mothers chase after their toddling offspring!) As always at these events, conversation ebbs and flows around family milestones: who’s getting married, who’s pregnant, and who has died since our last get-together.    

It always breaks my heart, though, to think of elderly or disabled loved ones who are left out of family events such as weddings and reunions because of their special needs. It was for this reason that we developed the Event Companion program at Home Helpers of Londonderry. I have had the privilege of escorting a Mother-of-the-Bride with a traumatic brain injury and a Father-of-the-Groom with Parkinson’s disease to their respective children’s weddings, an elderly mother with Alzheimer’s disease to her family’s Thanksgiving church service at which her son sang in the choir, and a grieving spouse to her husband’s funeral. We have been the one-on-one support for a number of clients at family functions, and I can safely say that it never fails to make an impact on the client, let alone the family.

Our Event Companion program provides a dedicated companion for clients who need focused attention during wedding festivities or other family events. It gives families peace of mind knowing that their loved one is being well cared for while at the function and allows all family members the opportunity to relax and enjoy the event. Because the program can include transportation, it’s especially useful for elderly relatives or those with physical challenges who may want to come late and leave early.

The moral of this story is that there is no need to isolate a loved one or to keep them from attending a family function. Yes, it takes a bit of preplanning and communication, but in most cases it is very doable.

Do you know someone who is getting married or planning a special family event and wants to invite their elderly or disabled loved one but isn’t sure how to manage the logistics?  Have them give me a call, and I’ll help them work through the details. And with local agencies throughout the United States, chances are that Home Helpers can help regardless of where the event is being held.  (Of course, I’m personally available for destination weddings in the Caribbean!)

Bonnie Roberts
Home Helpers of Londonderry