Alzheimer Society of Canada Programs Are ‘First Link’ of Support

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by Mary Chapman |

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To ensure that dementia patients and their caregivers have proper support and information, the Alzheimer Society of Canada is calling attention to its First Link program, designed to share a key message: “You are not alone.”

The Canada-wide campaign, announced in January during the country’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, seeks to remind those with dementia or the progressive neurodegenerative disorder that the nonprofit serves as a “first link” to support, knowledge, and community. The Alzheimer Society wants patients and caregivers in Canada to know that it is available to them from diagnosis, and throughout the disorder’s progression.

“A diagnosis of dementia is not easy,” the organization states in a press release. “Making a quick connection to a community of support can make a big difference by eliminating uncertainty and unknowns. The Alzheimer’s Society is the first place to turn — and First Link is the connection to support, care, knowledge, expertise, and referrals.”

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There are more than a half-million Canadians currently living with dementia, a figure that’s expected to double to 1 million in a decade, the nonprofit says.

The overarching goal of First Link is to make it as easy as possible for users to gain access to services, information, and care.

“A diagnosis of dementia hits hard and would leave any of us at a loss,” the program states on its site. “Dealing with the news is something few are prepared for. First Link, with a spectrum of services, information, and support, is the first place to turn when you need help answering the question, ‘What do I do now?’”

The program covers many aspects of dementia care and management — from diagnosis onward — including risk reduction, community services, research, advocacy, education, and disease progression. Its aim is to teach people how to live well with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

First Link also apprises patients and caregivers of services and programs available at society chapters near them. Such services may include counseling, referrals to local healthcare providers and community services, and information regarding healthcare options in specific provinces. Program staff can help users gain access to appropriate services, depending upon the disease stage.

In addition, people can be connected with those in similar circumstances, and can get help with disease management and future planning.

As one caregiver put it: “Prior to First Link, my wife and I didn’t know anything about dementia or Alzheimer’s. With the information we received, we were able to become proactive in dealing with this illness.”

To gain access to the program, individuals may seek a referral from a healthcare professional or contact the Alzheimer Society directly.

The Alzheimer Society is Canada’s leading nonprofit organization for people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and their caregivers. Since 1989, it has invested more than $67 million in research grants and awards aimed at finding treatments and cures.

“With more than a half-million Canadians living with dementia today, a number expected to reach almost 1 million in 10 years, the Alzheimer Society is continuing to enhance its support amongst people living with dementia to meet their needs early in, and throughout, their journey,” the organization added.