CCEL Spotlight: Alzheimer’s Society of B.C.
November 9, 2023
BY Taja De Silva
The Canadian Centre for Elder Law has had a longstanding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. The CCEL has collaborated on many projects over the years and have benefitted immensely from the practical and real perspective that the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C. brings – it has strengthened our research, our approaches, and our publications. Our CCEL Director, Kelly Melnyk, took some time last week to interview a representative from the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C. Here is the and discuss the important role that this organization holds in Elder Law and the greater community.
What are the key services the Alzheimer Society of B.C. provides?
Working in communities throughout the province, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. supports and advocates for and with people affected by dementia. We enable research into the disease, which includes collaborating with municipalities and businesses to build communities that are inclusive, supportive and accessible for people living with dementia. Through the Dementia-Friendly Communities initiative and close work with health authorities and care providers, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. helps to connect people to the services they need and ensure health-care providers have the skills and knowledge to provide the best care possible, through access to person-centred dementia education. We also work closely with advocates with lived experience to ensure their voices are heard by leaders and policy makers at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
Through the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s suite of First Link® dementia support services, the Society provides:
- Individual support: Ongoing support calls to identify changing needs and offer information and resources tailored to each unique situation;
- Support groups: In-person and online groups for caregivers and people in the early stages of dementia to learn from and connect with others in a similar situation;
- Dementia education: Workshops and weekly webinars on a wide variety of topics from diagnosis to end of life;
- Minds in Motion®: A social and fitness program for people in the early stages of dementia and a care partner, based in community centres;
- Coffee and Chat: A social program for people in the early stages of dementia and caregivers to have fun while connecting with others in a similar situation;
- Information: Resource handouts, brochures, fact sheets and videos, as well as quarterly newsletters containing updates on events in a specific area; and
- First Link® Dementia Helpline: A centralized access point for dementia information and support for anyone affected by dementia, personally or professionally. Learn more here.
What are the connections or interactions between the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and the law?
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. supports and educates families in planning for the future, including legal and financial needs. Connecting with partners such as the CCEL is a way to provide the families support with meaningful and accessible information from experts through workshops. The Society also works directly with organizations and businesses who engage with families affected by dementia – including law firms – to develop dementia-friendly practices. Partnering with the CCEL has been an opportunity to educate lawyers about the impact of legislation, regulations and policy on people with lived experience of dementia, while also being able to contribute to and influence law reform – an essential component of improving the lives of people affected by dementia.
Why is the Canadian Elder Law Conference important to the Alzheimer Society of B.C.? Do you have any topics from past conferences that you found stuck with you?
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. appreciates opportunities to share its vision and mission with a wider audience of people interested in issues affecting our aging population, as well as being able to share dementia-friendly practices and amplify the voices of people with lived experience.
Anything else you want to attendees/potential attendees to know about the Alzheimer Society of BC and their efforts in serving an aging population?
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. believes that people living with dementia are individuals with the same human rights as everyone else, including the right to form their own opinions and participate in decisions about their life and care. It is essential that people living with dementia and their families and caregivers be consulted in discussions as well as legislative or procedural decisions on topics that affect them. The Society respects the right of all people living with dementia to advocate for their personal best interests; we are here to provide people living with dementia with support and information so that they can make informed decisions about their care, including end of life. We encourage people living with dementia to engage in personal planning and make their wishes for health and personal care decisions known to their family members and substitute decision-makers as soon as possible after diagnosis. Ensuring lawyers see that a diagnosis of dementia does not mean one loses the ability to make or communicate a decision – and that patience, respect and making space for the person living with dementia, is critical to ensuring the person living with dementia retains their right to express their own choices.