Harrison Hot Springs caregiver Earla Legault was ready to help her mother, Joey, transition into long-term care.
Joey, a retired nurse who has lived with dementia for the past five years, was on her way to a new home closer to Earla’s brother while Earla stepped back from being primary caregiver. When moving day came, Joey forgot about the plans and grew concerned. Earla’s brother dialed the B.C.’s First Link Dementia Helpline, who helped reassure Joey while Earla helped her brother support their mother.
Legault and her brother and Joey are among many caregivers and those living with dementia who are attending virtual support group through the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s First Link Dementia Helpline, which recently expanded access to phone and online and is accepting new members.
“(My brother) used it all and it was perfect,” Legault said. “The Alzheimer Society is there to guide you because they’ve been there before. Our family was in new territory and we needed specific support.”
Legault has frequently used the help line and participated in virtual caregiver support groups; the Alzheimer Society has set up groups for caregivers of people in long-term care, LGBTQ+ caregivers, Mandarin- and Cantonese-language groups and many more.
“Hearing other peoples’ stories is really beneficial,” Legault said. “You know their names and remember their familiar voices. I treat the group as a resource because I always learn something helpful that supports me in looking after my loved one and myself. I believe when you’re listening to your peers and hear them being vulnerable, it allows you to be vulnerable too.”
The Dementia Helpline piloted last fall with highly positive results; 85 per cent of participants reported feeling more connected to other members of the group. 0- per cent of members would recommend participating in the program to other people.
Anyone with concerns or questions related to dementia can call the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033 Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.