Alzheimer’s Society of BC expands

Opening of the new Surrey Resource Centre bodes well for the local community suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The Alzheimer’s Society of B.C. officially introduced its new Surrey Resource Centre and its one-of-a-kind First Link framework model to the local community.

The Resource Centre is part of The Alzheimer’s Society’s massive expansion plans that will provide an extensive range of services to the South and East Fraser region; this includes, Delta, White Rock, Surrey, Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack and Hope.

The First Link program is an innovative service that connects individuals suffering from dementia, as well as their friends and family to the Society for further information provision, so the opportunity to exercise the basic human need for a better life is met to its fullest.

“First Link provides early access to on-going, reliable support services and education essential for people to live well with dementia,” said Maria Howard’s, CEO of the Alzheimer’ Society of B.C. in a press release statement. “The new Surrey regional Resource Centre will enable us to deliver First Link support services more effectively to places like Hope.”

The announcement by the Ministry of Health in November 2014, solidified its commitment to a $ 4 million grant to the expansion of the First Link program and the Surrey Resource Centre.

Existing services were successfully built-on as a result of the funding.

“The more people that understand Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia’s, the better prepared they are to manage it at all stages of the disease,” said Howard. “We’re very happy to bring First Link to the South and East Fraser region and will provide ongoing connection, information and touch points throughout the journey for individuals with dementia and their family and friends.

The First Link program offers a lifeline and support system to help families and patients navigate the tricky face of Alzheimer’s.

“It teaches them how to plan ahead and is an easy way to connect to different programs like Minds and Motion (a program dedicated to fitness and cognitive coping skills) on a personal level, while providing a bridge to necessary health care resources,” said Kathy Kennedy, director of programs and services at the Society.

Currently there are 70,000 individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and 10,000 of those suffer from early onset of the disease, according to Kennedy.

“The aging demographic is increasing because of the baby boomers and there is still no cure — we provide information options for coping mechanisms, resources for financial planning and health care to help families express angst and guilt,” she said.

Fist Link is also instrumental in helping patients find the means to deal with depression, resulting from diagnosis and aims to help them maintain a good quality of life, while continuing to stay engaged and interactive with friends, family, and the community.

There are fitness and social partnerships, where patients can be matched up with others dealing with the disease, allowing them to have an environment where they feel safe and secure within the confines of the illness.

“Participants have a sense of being alive and of having a safe place to talk — the disease is progressive and degenerative and people need an increasing level of support, as the adult day programs eventually trickle into long-term care programs,” Kennedy told The Hope Standard.