2013 St Julian's
Alzheimer Europe held its 23rd Annual Conference in St. Julian's, Malta during 10-12 October 2013 with the motto "Living well in a dementia-friendly society". The conference featured over 110 speakers in plenary and parallel sessions, special symposia and workshops as well as poster presentations.
The conference was held under the Distinguished Patronage of His Excellency Dr George Abela, President of Malta. President Abela officially opened the conference on 10 October by welcoming over 520 delegates to the island and congratulated the Organising and Programme committees for their efforts. He also wished all the participants a very successful conference as they explored the impact of perceptions and the image of dementia on the lives of people with dementia and their carers.
The delegates were also welcomed by Minister of Health Dr Godfrey Farrugia, a representative of Ms Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, Parliamentary Secretary for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Active Ageing Dr Franco Mercieca and Joseph Cuschieri, Maltese Member of the European Parliament. All of these policymakers restated and affirmed the commitment of the Maltese government to the development of national dementia strategy.
The opening ceremony concluded with a keynote lecture by Mr Martin Seychell, another fellow Maltese and Deputy Director General of the European Commission's DG Health and Consumers. Mr Seychell described the EU’s contribution to addressing the challenge of dementia, such as supporting Member States in dealing with the present challenges and preparing them for the future challenges that will undoubtedly come. All of these policymakers restated and affirmed the commitment of the Maltese government to the development of national dementia strategy.
The first plenary session on 11 October was chaired by Iva Holmerová (Czech Republic) and focused on integrated care. Angiolina Foster (Scotland) spoke about the commitment of the Scottish Government to post-diagnostic support and Chris Gastmans (Belgium) discussed dignity-enhancing care for persons with dementia and its application to advance directives. They were followed by Gráinne McGettrick (Ireland), who outlined Ireland's progress in improving dementia palliative care and Jacqueline Parkes (UK) who presented aspects of improving access, care pathways and social care for people with young onset dementia.
Charles Scerri (Malta) chaired the second plenary session that featured presentations on prevention. Martin Orrell (UK) explored the role of case management for preventing institutionalisation and hospitalisation and Finland's Tiia Ngandu gave an overview of our current understanding of the prevention of dementia. Armelle Leperre-Desplanques (France) spoke about how the ALCOVE project toolbox can help to prevent behavioural problems and avoid the use of anti-psychotics and, finally, Myrra Vernooij-Dassen (Netherlands) presented solutions to prevent carer burn-out by empowerment.
In between the two plenaries, the European Working Group of People with Dementia (EWGPWD) held a highly popular symposium entitled “Nothing about us without us”. This was chaired by Helga Rohra (Germany) and featured presentations by Stig Atle Aavik, Jean-Pierre Frognet, Raoul Grönqvist, Agnes Houston and Dermod Slevin. They presented various aspects of how they live with dementia, with a common theme of focusing on their remaining capacities to stay active in society for as long as they possibly can.
On 12 October, the third plenary was chaired by Maurice O’Connell (Ireland) and dealt with innovation and dementia. Nina Baláčková (Czech Republic) spoke about the activities of the EWGPWD, which is giving a voice to people with dementia. She was followed by Elisabetta Vaudano (Italy), who showed the high priority of Alzheimer’s disease within the work of IMI - the Innovative Medicines Initiative. David Mamo (Malta) discussed the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) and Franka Meiland from the Netherlands gave an update of assistive technologies that are supporting people with dementia and their carers.
The fourth and final plenary session was chaired by Malta's Stephen Abela and focused on a dementia friendly society. Joost van Hoof (Netherlands) presented the latest in ageing-in-place or the living arrangements for people with dementia in the community. Carmelo Aquilina (Malta/Australia) showed evidence of the persistence of the self in dementia and Anthea Innes (UK) described several personal journeys to dementia friendly societies.
The conference also included 20 parallel sessions, three special symposia and poster sessions that featured over 50 exhibits. These dealt with specific aspects of dementia, including post-diagnostic support, perceptions and image of dementia, psychosocial care, epidemiology and telecare. Delegates learned about country-specific dementia projects and the latest developments in legal and ethical issues. One particularly well-attended session concentrated on the importance of involving people with dementia. This was emphasised in three presentations from three different continents, showing a welcome positive trend to reduce stigma and increase the quality of life of people with dementia all over the world.
The conference ended with an invitation by Alzheimer Scotland's Jim Pearson to the 24th Alzheimer Europe Conference in October 2014. This was followed by closing remarks and a farewell from Heike von Lützau-Hohlbein and Stephen Abela, respectively the Chairpersons of Alzheimer Europe and the Malta Dementia Society.
Alzheimer Europe and the Malta Dementia Society are very grateful to the presenters, delegates and event staff that helped make the conference a success. The efforts and determination of people with dementia and their carers are particularly appreciated. Their collective contribution has triggered a shift in public perceptions over the past years, leading to a growing commitment by national and European policy makers to give dementia the attention it so rightly deserves.
The 23rd Alzheimer Europe Conference has received funding from the European Union in the framework of the Public Health programme.
Last Updated: Tuesday 20 January 2015