The non-profit Alzheimer Society of B.C. offers a free dementia support service to help residents access services faster.
As well as visiting the visit the regional resource centre, individuals and families in Oak Bay can or call the First Link Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033.
“Because of the stress and stigma associated with a diagnosis of dementia, it can take families time to adjust to their new situation. On average, families may wait up to 11 months before they connect to First Link for help,” says Gabriela Townsend, support and education coordinator at the society’s North and Central Vancouver Island Resource Centre. “A referral at the time of diagnosis ensures that families are being supported during time that can be critical for advanced planning and developing support networks.”
When a health-care provider refers someone to First Link, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. reaches out to them to ensure that they have the option to receive services to assist in maintaining quality of life as much as possible as the disease progresses. While a referral at the time of diagnosis is ideal, people can be referred to First Link at any point in the dementia journey. Dr. Kathleen McFadden, a general practitioner, is an avid champion of First Link and the services offered through it.
“We may only see an individual or family once or twice, but with a First Link referral we know they will be provided with ongoing support,” Dr. McFadden says. “Giving the diagnosis is a lot easier when you know someone from the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is there to help them through the journey.” People may be referred by many different kinds of health-care providers, whether a general practitioner, an assessment clinic or a home and community care case manager.
“The Alzheimer Society of B.C. values all our health-care partners in working to build a community of care with us,” says Gabriela. Oak Bay residents concerned about dementia can call the First Link Dementia Helpline (1-800-936-6033) or visit alzheimerbc.org.
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