On Tuesday 20 October, the 30th Alzheimer Europe Virtual Conference (#30AEC) “Dementia in a changing world” was formally opened with almost 800 participants from 42 countries in attendance.

The event is Alzheimer Europe’s first ever virtual conference, taking place between 20-22 October, with over 250 speakers and 100 poster presentations each sharings research, projects and experiences.

It is more important than ever with the backdrop of the global Covid-19 pandemic that organisations and individuals come together in the spirit of collaboration and solidarity to help people with dementia get through this difficult period.

Iva Holmerová, Chairperson of Alzheimer Europe, opened the conference, extending a special welcome to the 35 people with dementia who are among the delegates, as well as their supporters.

She went on to comment, “The COVID pandemic has highlighted many things that are already known, but which are not yet well respected.  Modern technologies are becoming more and more necessary, even and especially in older age and for people with dementia.”

“There is also a need to better attune our healthcare systems to vulnerable people and people living with dementia, and to ensure that long-term care workers receive further training to achieve the necessary level of specific skills that are crucial during a pandemic like this.

“Life brings different risks, one of which is a variety of infections, but is necessary to go on and live. Be careful, but live.”

Last month, CAFE joined stakeholders across the globe in coming together for World Alzheimer’s Day, on 21 September, to raise awareness of the condition and explore ways to support people with Alzheimer’s and those closest to them.

Ahead of this annual event, we spoke with two clubs in England and Germany to find out more about how they support fans with Alzheimer's and dementia.

Football has a wealth of history and memories to last a lifetime, and can play an important role. As the condition largely affects older people, it is likely that many of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's will be some of the clubs' most loyal and longest-serving supporters. Therefore it is important that football uses its unique power to offer its support.

Everton in the Community told us about their Pass on the Memories programme, and the impact it has had on over 750 people living with Alzheimer's and dementia as well as their carers and companions. Director of Health and Sport Michael Salla told us how the project uses the history of the club and the city to evoke memories and stimulate conversation, and how they have continued to support participants during the pandemic.

Hamburger SV also told us about their memory box project, using memorabilia, photos and soundtracks from the club's past to support people with Alzheimer's and dementia in sharing their memories. Project participants have the opportunity to discuss experiences as football fans, as well as memories from their day-to-day lives induced by the contents of the memory boxes.

If you would like to discuss your ideas for projects such as Pass on the Memories or the HSV memory box project at your club, please email us at [email protected] or call +44 (0)208 065 5018.

You can also find out more about Alzheimer Europe's position on the global pandemic and its impact on people with Alzheimer's and dementia.

Published 21/10/2020