By Kara Jacobsen

Alison Hranek realized she enjoyed working with people living with dementia when she began volunteering with Alzheimer’s San Diego as an ALZ Companion volunteer, in-office assistant, and education assistant in 2017. She was so inspired by the people she met and the mission of the organization, she knew serving this population was part of her purpose.

Alison is from the North County area of San Diego and is a double alumni from San Diego State University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Film and Television Production but left the industry to pursue her Master’s in Social Work. She interned with Alzheimer’s San Diego as part of her graduate program and was the only student in her class with a film background!

“I really enjoy interacting with people living with dementia and their care partners. During my training as an ALZ Companion volunteer, I became interested in how Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias affect the functioning of the brain. This kickstarted my passion for studying different types of dementia, becoming a dementia care certified in-home caregiver, and led me to get an MSW with a focus on Geriatric care,” she describes. “Things have seemed full circle now that I’m a social worker for the same respite program I volunteered for.”

LEARN MORE | ALZ Companion Respite Program

In addition to providing support over the phone, Alison also works with the community firsthand, performing home assessments throughout San Diego County for the ALZ Companion respite program. In this program, volunteers spend time with people living with dementia so caregivers can get a much-needed break. The challenges care partners face are not easy, but Alison finds it meaningful to be able to provide reassurance and build relationships so that care partners feel seen and heard.

“When the people I’m able to connect with tell me they feel a lot better after speaking to me, my heart feels full and happy,” she explains.

Alison’s main piece of advice to care partners is to continue to focus on what the person living with memory loss is still able to do instead of what they can no longer do. It’s easier said than done, but she encourages those who need help to reach out and not be afraid to give us a call. It’s why we’re here.

If you or someone you know is living with dementia and needs support, talk with a compassionate Clinical Care Coach like Alison by calling 858.492.4400