First Link dementia support coming to Ashcroft and Cache Creek

The program provides one-to-one support for those suffering from dementia and those who care for them.

Barbara Roden

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. will soon be expanding its First Link dementia support program into communities in the central Interior region, including Ashcroft and Cache Creek.

In addition to services already offered in the region, the expansion of First Link will allow the society to build relationships with health care providers, and to proactively connect with more families on a regular basis through ongoing support calls.

“First Link connects people with dementia, their caregivers, family, and friends with support, education, and information at any stage of the journey,” says Tara Hildebrand, the provincial coordinator for support and education services for the society.

“The expansion of First Link will enable us to deliver those services earlier and more effectively to families in the central Interior.”

The heart of the expansion of First Link in Ashcroft and Cache Creek is ensuring that people living with the disease, and their care partners, can access a variety of information and support services, including one-to-one telephone support from the society on an ongoing basis.

Bev Bertoia, a caregiver from Merritt, has found that being able to connect with society staff has helped her face the many challenges and uncertainties presented by her mother’s dementia.

“The Alzheimer Society of B.C. gave us the gift of understanding and acceptance. The support I receive over the telephone and at support groups helps me regain my perspective and my strength,” she says. “They help me realize that the guilt doesn’t have to eat me up. I always feel grounded again, like I can do this.”

“We’re very happy to expand First Link dementia support to provide ongoing connection, information, and touch points for people in the central Interior who are living with dementia,” says Hildebrand.

Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving, or language severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. A person with dementia may also experience changes in mood or behaviour.

Dementia is not a specific disease but can include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body disease, frontotemporal dementia, and others. These conditions can have similar and overlapping symptoms.

Formal referrals from health care providers to First Link help ensure that people living with dementia and their care partners are connected with the society’s support services as early as possible. Bertoia says that “It can be very difficult for people to take that first step. But learning more about the disease and how to cope early on can save a lot of frustration and can help bring the family together. You don’t have to face this alone.”

For more information about First Link dementia support, visit alzheimerbc.org or call the regional resource centre at 1-800-886-6946.