First Link Program
Our First Link program is an early intervention program that connects people living with dementia to the Alzheimer Society for services and support. Often, when a person receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or other dementia, they are given a prescription that may or may not help slow the progression of their disease, and told to come back in 6-9 months for a checkup. It can feel like there is not a lot of follow-up personal support from the medical, or often your own, community.
It is a terrifying diagnosis; one that can seem to immediately isolate you from your family, your friends, your job, and even your independence. People fear losing their jobs, their ability to drive or live on their own, or most terrifying of all, their own memories and sense of selves. The Alzheimer Society created the First Link program as a way to help people understand what changes are coming in their lives, what the disease really is, and how to help themselves (or their loved one) as they travel down their new path. Each person has unique challenges that cannot be summed up as a group, and finding help during this devastating time can seem impossible.
Whether you are living with Alzheimer’s disease, another form of dementia, or supporting someone who is, First Link connects you to health services and information in your community, from the time of diagnosis throughout the progression of the disease. First Link is about helping you and your family make informed choices so you can live better with dementia at every stage of the disease.
When you connect with First Link you can:
• Receive one-on-one or group support
• Be referred to local health professionals and community services
• Meet other people in similar circumstances
• Get help to plan your future
Doctors and healthcare professionals will often refer clients to us, but patients and families can also give us a call without a doctor's referral at any time. We offer First Link to the community free of charge so that is accessible to anyone, but there are costs associated with running this amazing program. Families will often continue to access our services after the First Link program, but it is the first, most important step in helping us to create a more dementia-friendly world where patients and families are not left alone on this difficult, misunderstood road. We are asking for funding to help us to continue to offer this vital program to our community.
Who Will it Benefit?
There are currently over 45,800 Albertans living with dementia, and over 564,000 Canadians. This number is expected to reach 937,000 in 15 years. In addition to people who have received a diagnosis, this disease has incredibly stressful and devastating effects on their families, and their care partners. There are over 1.1 million Canadians directly or indirectly affected by dementia.
We estimate that 1 in 3 people are or know someone living with dementia.
Our idea will help those people newly-diagnosed or seeking assistance with a terrifying, isolating, and unique-to-each person diagnosis of Alzheimer's and dementia, their families, and their care partners.