Reflections on the 30th Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference 2015, Perth Australia

By | April 21, 2015

Conferences are about content. And on this score, I learned that:

1) Being ‘dementia-friendly’ is not enough. It implies “recognition” of needs but what we must strive for is inclusion. The expressed wish of many at the conference was that in the coming era, people with dementia will continue to work in both paid and voluntary positions. After- all, the ability to contribute to the world around us is essential to wellness, and participating in society is is a basic human right. We must all learn from each other in order to make sure that work-continuance happens.

2) Language signals dementia’s ongoing stigma and dementia’s work divide. Amongst the many provocations at the conference,  ‘Challenging behaviours’ also referred to as ‘Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia’ (BPSD) was given the thumbs down, in favour of (anxious/unhappy/troubled etc) ‘words and thoughts’ (Allen Power). I, for one, am going to get rid of this ‘behaviours’ word. Scoot, skedaddle! See, easy.

Equally, conferences are about people. I am continually renewed by the extraordinary people who drive the dementia agenda, across personal, familial, bio-medical, social and political lines.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 10.05.37 pm

A snapshot form Dr Allen Power’s presentation, “Enhancing Well-Being: How Do We Get There?”. The quote is by Dr Richard Taylor, author of “Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out

3) I mention, here, a few of the delegates whom I had the pleasure to listen to and chat with. The hyperlinks attached to their names say more about their work.

In no order: Martin Prince for his erudite brilliance and for being the Captain of the Ship; Kate Swaffer, for her energy, provocations and exquisite way with words; Dawn Brooker who continues Tom Kitwood’s groundbreaking work, keeping it alive constant refinements resulting in better, clearer protocols in caregiving – let’s make that “care partnering”; Helga Rohra, who, with the rock-god charisma of Chrissie Hynde or Patty Smith, cuts down hypocrisy and foolishness; Allen Power, a geriatrician whose innate humanism drives his practice and teaching; Daniella Greenwood, for her glorious exposition of ‘Client-Centred Care’ ; DY Suharya who leads the Alzheimer’s Indonesia team with heart and imagination as they drive their nation’s dementia strategy forward. So many others to mention and ‘ ah-ha’ moments to recall…

…and a big thank you to those who responded to my presentation with insightful comments and creative ideas.

ADI 2016 will be in Budapest. Save the date!

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