A vital link to
Program helps patients and families navigate care and resources
The Alzheimer Society’s First Link program is a lifeline to information and resources about
Dementia can be a crushingburden—for both those who have itand their families. But they don’t haveto face it alone.
For people living with dementia,the First Link program is a lifeline toinformation and resources that canassist them through a very complexand challenging time, helping themfind the information and support theyneed, sooner.
“It’s like providing a road map
that can really help you along that
journey,” says Christene Gordon,
director, Client Services and Programs
for the Alzheimer Society of Alberta
and Northwest Territories. “It’s about
helping people understand what is
happening, and plan for the future. It’s
about inviting them into our services,
which are one-on-one support and
The Alzheimer Society’s services
also include a family learning series
called the Seeds of Hope focused
on understanding Alzheimer’s
disease and dementia and providing
information for caregivers, and peer
support and community resources for
people living with dementia.
First Link was piloted in Albertaabout eight years ago in Lethbridgeand Edmonton and its strength isthat patients and families are referreddirectly to the Alzheimer Societyafter diagnosis from a health-careprofessional. Making this contact takesthe onus off patients and families, whoin the past often waited until a crisis toturn to the society.
“Having somebody contact them
is one less thing they have to initiate
themselves,” Gordon explains.
With First Link, contact is madewithin a few weeks of diagnosisof Alzheimer’s disease or relateddementia. The society also contactspatients and families three, six, 12and 18 months later to see if they havequestions or concerns about navigatingthe health-care system and communityresources.
Alberta Health has provided funding
for the Alzheimer Society to roll out
First Link in other cities throughout
the province over the next year and a
half. Referral to the program, which
is free, is by a physician or another
— Jacqueline Louie
As part of Alzheimer Awareness monthin January, Apple and Alberta HealthServices are presenting a series ofthree talks on Alzheimer’s disease anddementia in southern Alberta. See thead on page 8 for details.