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April 01, 2024 In the heart of every caregiver lies a story of love, resilience and dedication. As we commemorate National Caregiver Day on Tuesday, April 2, we spotlight Marilyn Gilbert, a beacon of unwavering support and care for her husband amid his battle with dementia. Marilyn’s journey is a poignant reminder of the complexity and challenges caregivers face, especially when caring for loved ones with dementia.
A Love-Fueled Endeavor
For approximately 12 months, Marilyn has been the primary caregiver for her husband, navigating the turbulent waters of dementia, a condition marked by confusion, memory loss and personality changes. Her decision to step into the role of caregiver was not one of choice but a natural progression of love and commitment. "It's what we do for someone we love," Marilyn reflects on her motivation, highlighting the profound bond and sense of duty that guides her through this demanding journey.
Facing the Challenge
The path of caregiving is fraught with emotional turmoil and helplessness, particularly in confronting the reality of a disease with no cure. Marilyn describes this as the most challenging aspect of her experience, mourning the progressive loss of her life partner and best friend. Despite the despair, she finds solace in the positive impact of Baycrest’s day program on her husband, whose return home with a smile offers her a glimmer of hope and comfort.
A Daily Strategy of Love and Patience
Marilyn’s approach to caregiving is one of patience, love and adaptability. Each day presents new challenges and her strategy revolves around creating moments of joy and maintaining her husband’s sweet and kind disposition through simple acts of love, like waking him with a silly song.
The Importance of Support
Support from family and friends has been crucial. Marilyn has also found that her husband attending the Samuel Lunenfeld Mountainview Day program at Baycrest has given her needed respite in addition to improving her husband’s mood through the activities, socialization and comradery he experiences in the program. Marilyn also gets strength from her children and the expert staff at Baycrest.
Advice for Future Caregivers
Marilyn emphasizes the importance of self-care for caregivers, advocating for exercise, a healthy diet, hobbies and good sleep to manage the emotional toll of caregiving. Her advice underscores the need to prioritize one's well-being to sustain the strength required for this demanding role.
A Lifelong Connection to Baycrest
Marilyn’s relationship with Baycrest, a world leader in dementia care, predates her current caregiving role, having been a part of her life through her in-laws who were residents in the Apotex Centre at Baycrest. She praises the facility’s day programs and staff, which have provided her husband with social experiences and excellent care.
Looking Toward the Future
Reflecting on the broader challenges of dementia, Marilyn hopes for advancements that will bring hope, if not a cure, for future generations. Her journey with Baycrest and the Mountainview Day Program Community has been a source of support and learning, illuminating the path for her and her husband in these trying times.
As we honour caregivers like Marilyn Gilbert on National Caregiver Day, we recognize the immense sacrifices and love that define their journeys. Marilyn’s story is a testament to the strength, compassion and resilience required to navigate the challenges of caregiving, offering hope and inspiration to others walking a similar path.

Let’s unite this April 2 to celebrate the caregivers among us, acknowledging the immense dedication and compassion they pour into their roles every day. Your participation not only honours them but also reinforces our shared mission to support and uplift the caregiving community.
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