The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is in “urgent need” of more volunteers for its Greater Victoria dementia helpline.
The number of calls to the helpline is rising dramatically, according to the charity, and the group expects an increased need for volunteers as the province’s population ages and the number of people diagnosed with dementia increases.
“Whether people are calling for general information or they are caregivers in need of support, people just need a starting point to get information. They just need someone to talk to,” said volunteer Christy MacLean in a news release. “You can feel like you’re the only one going through it when you’re caring for someone living with dementia. I see a lot of parallels in caring for my mom.”
MacLean’s mother was diagnosed with dementia two years ago. She didn’t know of the Alzheimer Society’s helpline, at the time.
“My sister and I spent a lot of time dealing with doctors and trying to navigate the health-care system,” she said. “If I had been aware of the helpline, I would have called for help.”
MacLean, as a volunteer, now acts as a resource to others facing dementia or caring for loved ones with dementia. She answers calls for the helpline — the First Link Dementia Helpline — out of the charity’s Victoria Resource Centre in Saanich.
The line is for anyone who lives with dementia or cares for someone with the disorder, but also offers help to those concerned about their memory, those who work with people living with dementia and anyone interested in knowing more about Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or memory loss.
“Volunteers are compassionate listeners who offer information that supports callers who are on the dementia journey,” Caroline Herbert, a provincial coordinator with the Alzheimer Society, said in a news release. “For volunteers, it’s a meaningful role with a direct impact that also provides valuable experience in the social services field.”
An estimated 70,000 people in British Columbia live with dementia, according to the Alzheimer Society.
Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to call Hebert at 778-746-2021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To call the helpline, dial 1-800-936-6033.