Red Deerians were able to see the Alzheimer Society’s new office in the city during an open house Thursday.
George Andrews, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories, said it’s exciting to move into the new office, which is just a few doors down from the old office space.
“It’s perfect for us. It’s friendly and intimate, but it’s not too ostentatious,” Andrews said.
“We’re able to have a bigger footprint, but it’s still a bit of a more user-friendly space and a little more homey. Plus we’ll be in the same parking lot, so it’s a little easier for clients to find us.
“It’s important we are members of the community and not just working with people who happen to live here.”
The “jewel in our crown” is the Red Deer office, said Andrews.
“It covers such a large space. During COVID we had to rely on technology and things like that, we developed some strong skills in using technology to interact with people. As a consequence, many of the focus groups and support sessions that we would typically do face-to-face, we had to adapt.”
In the past year, the society has served 1,332 clients from 93 communities in Central Alberta.
Andrews, whose mother is living with dementia, said one in three people are directly or indirectly impacted by somebody living with the dementia.
“It’s important for us to talk about it and let people know there are resources and hope for them,” Andrews said.
“We want to let people know we’re here. We want people to know we acknowledge that in some corners of our communities, there’s a bit of a stigma admitting you have a cognitive impairment.”
One of the society’s main programs is First Link, which is focuses on getting referrals of people who have been diagnosed with dementia.
“About half of our referrals come from doctors … but the other half is from people who self identify,” he said.
“The people who self identify, they don’t reach out to us until about 11 months after diagnosis on average. Almost always they’re in a situation as a result of crisis.
“We’re happy to be helpful at any time, but if we can improve turnaround from diagnosis to support, we believe we can help people be better prepared.”
Through the First Link program, there have been 248 referrals and 1,328 hours spent with clients. Additionally, $141,984 has been given to researchers, supporting investigations in Alberta.