First Link®


If you are newly diagnosed with dementia, First Link® can connect you to the help you need as soon as possible.

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Contact our First Link® Coordinator, at [email protected] for further information or at 519-482-1482 (Clinton) or (519)271-1812 (Stratford)

You can also learn more about First Link® through our downloadable brochure. Contact us to have a copy sent to you.

Why choose First Link®?

It can be difficult for individuals and families affected by dementia to ask for help.

Many families are told about the Alzheimer Society and dementia care services, but few make a phone call until a crisis occurs.

First Link® removes this barrier by ensuring that individuals and families are referred directly to First Link®-approved health services and information. This occurs at the time of diagnosis or as soon as possible after a diagnosis is made.

How does First Link® work?

The goal of First Link® is to ensure you have the right support and information, from the time of an initial diagnosis and throughout the progression of the disease.

When you give permission to your healthcare provider to share your information with our First Link® staff, we will contact you directly. You can also give us a call when you or your family feel comfortable.

This First Link® phone call connects you to local health services and resources that best suit your situation.

You will have access to Alzheimer Society programs and services to help you learn about dementia, talk about your concerns and live well with the disease.

Connecting with First Link® means you can:

  • Receive one-on-one or group support
  • Be referred to local healthcare providers and community services
  • Meet other people in similar circumstances and exchange experiences
  • Get help to plan your future

“I came to First Link® feeling afraid and alone dealing with my husband’s Pick’s Disease. But I have developed a feeling of gratitude and appreciation of what other caregivers are going through. I strongly recommend First Link to anyone unsure of how to handle Alzheimer’s or other dementias. It’s such a valuable learning tool.”
–Caregiver .

Who can refer me?

Your First Link® partners are people who who work in the family practices, healthcare facilities and community agencies close to you, including:

  • Your family physician,
  • Geriatric specialists,
  • Nurses,
  • Social workers,
  • Occupational therapists,
  • Pharmacists and
  • Social service workers.

How do I get a referral?

Talk to your doctor about First Link®.

If you need more help, contact us and we can help you take your first steps in getting a referral through First Link®. Contact Us or email us at [email protected].

Referral process for Healthcare Professionals

First Link® is a referral program that helps you as a healthcare provider* connect a person living with dementia to their local Alzheimer Society, from the time of diagnosis and throughout the duration of their experience living with the disease.

That way, people living with dementia and their families receive education and support in their community as early as possible.

*First Link® partners include family physicians, geriatric specialists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and social service workers, amongst others, who work in family practice, healthcare facilities, and community agency settings.

To make a referral through First Link®:

  1. Ask your patient or their family member’s permission to forward his or her name to their local Alzheimer Society.
  2. Then, fill out the Referral Form.
  3. Complete the First Link® referral form and return it back to your local Society.

What happens after the referral is made?

Once the referral is made, a First Link Co-ordinator from your local Alzheimer Society will contact the person living with dementia and family members, linking them to programs and services within their community.

More useful links and resources

First Link® … your first step to living well with dementia. Alzheimer Society of Canada. This downloadable brochure gives an overview of how First Link® can connect people living with dementia to programs and services in their community.

First Link® evaluation project: Final evaluation report. Carrie A. McAiney, PhD; Loretta M. Hillier, MA; and Paul Stolee, PhD; 2010. This report, submitted to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, evaluates the effects of the First Link® program based on the first years.

Resources for people with dementia: The Alzheimer Society and beyond. Christopher Frank, MD, FCFP; Sid Feldman MD, FCFP; and Mary Schulz, MSW; 2011. This clinical review discusses the benefits of referring people with dementia and caregivers to the Alzheimer Society.

‘Throwing a lifeline’: The role of First Link™ in enhancing support for individuals with dementia and their caregivers. Carrie A. McAiney, PhD; Loretta M. Hillier, MA; Paul Stolee, PhD; David Harvey, Joanne Michael; 2012. This research article further examines how First Link® has helped people living with dementia and caregivers in the provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan.