Kathryn Creston, B.C.

Hope Air helps B.C. woman reach dementia specialists

Kathryn-story.jpgImagine losing one's memory but not being able to receive a proper diagnosis because you live a long drive from the specialists who could help you. That was the reality Kathryn needed to confront at 55 years old when she began to notice her increasing memory loss and confusion – and Hope Air gave her the support she needed to get a proper diagnosis.

The single mother lived in the village of Salmo, B.C. in the Kootenay mountains – a nine-hour drive from Vancouver. In 2013, Kathryn discovered problems with her memory and quickly lost confidence in her ability to perform routine tasks such as driving. As her memory lapses grew worse, she applied for a leave from work, but was denied. To cope, Kathryn had to quit her job and prioritize her health.

Kathryn’s doctor referred her to the brain centre at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Driving to Vancouver would not have been possible for Kathryn. She wasn’t able to do it herself and she’d forget where she was going. Aware of Kathryn's financial struggles, the doctor gave her the number for Hope Air to provide her with free flights to medical care.

"The staff at Hope Air were fantastic," says Kathryn. "Due to cognitive challenges, I was unable to go online and request service. The customer service people were so kind. They allowed my daughter to process the request online for me.

Hope Air provided flights for both her and her daughter, as Kathryn’s medical condition made travelling alone difficult. It took three trips to the university, an MRI, and various tests until Kathryn was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Without Hope Air’s services, Kathryn says she would have struggled to reach her appointments. 

Hope Air offered support by paying for my daughter to accompany me and for arranging for accommodations. I cannot tell you the ease and comfort I felt being supported. This was huge in my struggle for health and wellness. I am forever grateful to Hope Air.

Once she had the diagnosis, Kathryn decided to adjust her life. She enjoyed living in Salmo, but she sold her house and moved to Creston to be closer to family and live in a milder climate. She is now living as simple and healthy a life as she can. It is thanks to Hope Air that she could reach the help she needed and take the necessary steps to continue to live in the present.

If you need help to reach dementia-related medical specialists far from home, Hope Air offers free flights, accommodations, and bridge and ferry passes (PEI only) for those in financial need. To apply, visit hopeair.ca or call 1-877-346-HOPE (4673).